Understanding God’s Plan of Happiness

If you understand the great plan of happiness and follow it, what goes on in the world will not determine your happiness Boyd K. Packer

The Great Plan of Happiness

Questions like “Where did we come from?” “Why are we here?” and “Where are we going?” are answered in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Prophets have called it the Plan of Salvation and “the great plan of happiness” (Alma 42:8). Through inspiration we can understand this road map of eternity and use it to guide our path in this life.

The gospel teaches us that we are the spirit children of heavenly parents. Before our mortal birth, we lived as the sons and daughters of the Eternal Father. We were placed here on earth to work toward eternal life. These truths give us a unique perspective and different values to guide our decisions from those who doubt the existence of God and believe that life is not part of an eternal plan.

Our understanding of life begins with a council in heaven. There the spirit children of God were taught his eternal plan, the “great plan of happiness,” as Alma called it. We had progressed as far as we could without a physical body. To realize a fulness of joy, we had to prove our willingness to keep the commandments of God in a circumstance where we had no memory of what took place before our birth on earth.

In our lives here on earth, we would become subject to death, and we would be soiled by sin. To reclaim us from death and sin, our Heavenly Father’s plan provided us a Savior, whose atonement would redeem all from death and pay the price necessary for us all to be forgiven of our sins if we keep his commandments and repent of our sins.

When we understand the Plan of Salvation, we also understand the purpose and effect of the commandments God has given his children. He teaches us correct principles and invites us to govern ourselves. We do this by the choices we make.

We who know God’s plan and have covenanted, or promised, to participate in it must desire to do what is right, and we must do all that we can all our lives. When we have done all that we can, we can rely on God’s promised mercy.

Today’s article is from a talk by Dallin H. Oaks and is shared from the following website: https://www.lds.org/friend/1995/04/the-great-plan-of-happiness?lang=eng

 

No widget added yet.

Counting Our Blessings

We should certainly count our blessings, but we should also make our blessings count Neal A. Maxwell The Power of Counting and Speaking Your Blessings

Once upon a time, a wise man met with a king. The king challenged the man with a riddle. He said, “In my hands is a small bird. Is it alive or dead?” The wise man paused and looked down.

The wise man thought to himself, “If I say it is alive, he will close his hand and crush it. If I say it is dead, he will open his hand and let it fly away.”

The wise man turned his head up and said in a soft yet commanding voice, “It’s all in your hands.”

The same is true for us. Our lives are in our hands. It is not always easy. We face struggle, challenges, and difficulties. But we can derive blessings from them, if we are intentional. We can, to use the phrase of the late Debbie Friedman, “find the courage to make our lives a blessing.”

To make our lives a blessing, we need to make two critical choices: count our blessings and speak our blessings.

Counting our blessings

As a father of two young children, I am truly blessed. Yet, that’s easy to forget at 3:00 a.m. when one child’s loud crying wakes up the other.

One of the ways I remind myself is by following an ancient Jewish custom. In Judaism, the first thing we are supposed to do each morning is sit up and say the words,

I am grateful to you, Oh God, who has restored my soul from sleep and given me the breath of life.

No sighing. No turning our pillows over and burying our heads in them. We recognize the blessing of life. We prime ourselves to live with gratitude. We count our blessings and find happiness in them.

Saying blessings

It is not enough, however, to recognize and count our blessings. We have to say them, too. Acknowledge them. Speak them.

That’s why the ancient sages urged us to say 100 blessings a day. Something magical happens when we give expression to our feelings, when we use words to show gratitude.

About a month ago, I saw an example of this magic. I was in my office when a member of my congregation came by. He had a burning question.

“I was dining at a restaurant in New York,” he began. “A few tables away from me a man stood up and proposed to his girlfriend. She said yes, and everybody in the restaurant cheered. Then the man walked quietly over to a corner, put on a yarmulke, and said some type of blessing. His and his fiance’s eyes filled with tears. Rabbi, do you have any idea what blessing he said?”

I recited a blessing I thought it might be, and he said, “Yes, that’s it! Do you have a copy?” “Sure,” I said. “Why do you ask?”

“I am planning to propose to my girlfriend this weekend, and I want to say it with her.”

With tears in my eyes, I handed him the blessing.

How a blessing works

Blessings express our feelings. They need not be traditional ones. They simply need to come from the heart. When they do, they can change lives.

I experienced this truth near the end of my grandfather’s life. We were very close. Up until his death, I tried to talk to or visit him every day. We would usually end our conversations with my saying “Talk to you tomorrow.” We did not say, “I love you.” He was not a warm fuzzy kind of guy, and it just did not feel right.

But during the last few weeks of his life, something changed. Perhaps it was the birth of my daughter or his declining condition. Whatever the cause, our moments became more infused with meaning.

When I said, “I love you”

A month before my grandfather died, I was sitting by his bed, talking to him. As I got up to leave, I felt a twitch in my stomach. Turning to him, I said, “Grandpa, I love you.”

He didn’t say anything. Our connection, however, had changed. Thereafter, we ended each conversation with my saying, “I love you.”

Saying ‘I love you’ to our dearest ones blesses them and us. It is a way we make our lives a blessing. It is something each of us can do today, tomorrow and for the rest of our lives.

This is one more way we can speak and share our blessings. When we do, we learn the discipline of gratitude and the importance of words in our daily lives.

Everyone has an opportunity look at his or her life and decide what to focus on. Will it be the tragedy, the pain, the hardship? Or will it be a blessing? You decide.

The Blog post I am sharing today was written by Evan Moffic and is from the following website: https://goinswriter.com/count-your-blessings/

No widget added yet.

Overcoming Depression – The Amazing Power of Friendship

Cherish your human connections -  your relationships with friends and family    Barbara Bush

When I was going through depression, there was nothing more important to me than to feel like I had a friend. Thank goodness my husband and my children were such good friends to me. Often, my other friends had no idea that I was going through depression – even though it felt like I had a neon sign hanging around my neck which flashed: “Danger! Danger! I’m hanging from the neck of an Emotional Wreck!

It was during my most difficult days that those friendships gave me strength and the desire to keep fighting. I hope that if you are going through depression, that you have good friends to turn to. In turn, be the best friend you can be. We never know what others might be going through.

If you are going through depression, find those that you can trust. I know that it is not always easy but …. it is possible. A true friend can help you through your hard days and laugh with you on the better days! We are connected more than we know on this planet. When we connect to others in a positive way, we help ourselves, we help others and we help the world!

I hope you will enjoy today’s story about friendship! It’s hard to place a value on friendship – it is such a priceless commodity! :

An Inspiring Story About Friendship

In ancient Greece, Socrates was reputed to hold knowledge in high esteem. One day one fellow met the great philosopher and said, “Do you know what I just heard about your friend?”.

“Hold on a minute,” Socrates replied. “Before telling me anything I’d like you to pass a little test. It’s called the Triple Filter Test.”. “Triple filter?”. “That’s right,” Socrates continued. “Before you talk to me about my friend, it might be a good idea to take a moment and filter what you’re going to say. That’s why I call it the triple filter test.

The first filter is Truth. Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?” “No,” the man said, “actually I just heard about it and…”. “All right,” said Socrates. “So you don’t know if it’s true or not.

Now let’s try the second filter, the filter of Goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about my friend something good?” . “No, on the contrary…”. “So,” Socrates continued, “you want to tell me something bad about him, but you’re not certain it’s true.

You may still pass the test though, because there’s one filter left: the filter of Usefulness. Is what you want to tell me about my friend going to be useful to me?” “No, not really.”

“Well,” concluded Socrates, “if what you want to tell me is neither true nor good nor even useful, why tell it to me at all?”

Story shared from the following website: http://www.videoinspiration.net/blog/short-stories-about-friendship/

No widget added yet.

Overcoming Depression – Creating an Attitude of Gratitude Part 2

God gave you a gift of  86,400 seconds today. Have you used one of them to say Thank You?   William Arthur Ward

As I worked to overcome my severe depression, I found I needed to turn to the Lord daily in my efforts to get better. Through that entire process, He taught me many things. He taught me me to trust in the journey and He taught me the importance of my mindset.

One day, He inspired me with a story that I then wrote down. I call the story The Counters. As I wrote the story, I knew that it was really the Lord that was providing the story to me – not my vivid imagination. When the story was written, I was profoundly affected by the message of the story. I knew the lesson of the story was meant for me.

I am currently working to turn my story into a children’s book so I won’t go into the details of the story, but suffice it to say that being a counter is not a good thing. I realized I was a counter. I counted good events in my life and bad events in my life. I felt it was unfair for the bad to outweigh the good. I took my lesson to heart. I quit being a counter.

“Counters” are so busy counting all of the negatives that they fail to see their blessings. I knew better. I had and still have an incredible amount of blessings to be thankful for. I know that life is not fair. Now, I have learned to quit expecting life to be fair and to focus on the good, positive and amazing blessings of life that the Lord has provided to me.

As you read today’s article, I hope you will take time to reflect on your blessings. What do you have to be grateful for? Then take a second and express a sincere Thank You to someone!:

3 Ways To Develop Gratitude (The Great Healer)

Such an approach, though, eventually imprisons us in the very small world of our own needs, pushing away other people, and closing down the possibility of real growth. We may seek relief in a variety of ways – from the pleasures of physical entertainment, to the call to community service, and the possibilities of peace offered by spiritual practices and religion – but we often find that these tactics don’t provide the relief that we had hoped for, leaving us feeling more apathetic and cynical than before.

How can we escape this downward spiral?

All that ails us and the world, and the cause of all cynicism and apathy, I believe, comes from the lack of one essential factor in our lives: gratitude. The greatest human spirits have recognized that gratitude is the most rewarding and transformational practices that we can undertake. Cicero, the versatile Roman philosopher, stated:

Gratitude is not only the greatest of the virtues, but the parent of all the others.

In a similar vein, the thirteenth-century Christian mystic, Meister Eckhart, advised:

If the only prayer you said your whole life was “thank you,” that would suffice.

What exactly is gratitude, though? One definition that I discovered notes that gratitude is “an emotion that involves indebtedness toward another person,” and that this emotion arises when one receives something that meets the following criteria:

• It is valued by the recipient.
• It is costly to the benefactor.
• It is given with positive intention.
• It is given graciously, without any societal or professional obligation.

According to this definition, when these four criteria are met and we allow the emotion to arise, we experience gratitude. The problem with this definition, though, is that it makes gratitude conditional. When one of the criteria is not met – for example, when we don’t value the gift, or when we don’t believe that the gift is costly (monetarily, emotionally, or temporally) to the giver – according to this definition, we are excused from feeling gratitude.

Ethical, religious, and spiritual traditions encourage us to adopt a higher perspective on gratitude. From this point of view, gratitude is something far more profound than a momentary feeling of thanks for a specific valued gift. At its deepest potential, gratitude comes from an existential awareness that our bodies, our minds, our families and friends, the world in all its miraculous diversity, and all that we have are gifts. And that these gifts are given to us unconditionally, in love, at every moment of our lives.

This concept can be very difficult to incorporate because, as noted earlier, we tend to associate gratitude only with the receipt of a gift that we perceive to be valuable. When unwelcome events inevitably happen in our lives – disappointments, illness, conflicts – we naturally feel bitter and can easily believe that there is nothing to be thankful for. Conversely, when we get things that we think we want, we may be tempted to take all the credit, and believe that we have achieved these successes solely based on our own efforts and attributes. True gratitude, however, calls us to feel grateful not only for our successes, but also for our problems, our mistakes, and even for people who treat us unkindly. We can actually feel gratitude for our most difficult struggles, because these are seen as ultimately beneficial in our lives, even if the intention is not always immediately clear to us.

Gratitude can solve all that ails us because when we are truly grateful we immediately rise above our fear-based needs to dominate, control, or retreat in to cynicism. And when we approach people and situations with gratitude we will naturally be drawn to positive action, discovering new possibilities that we could never have imagined in the protective shell of self-isolation. These actions can take many forms, depending on the needs of the other person and the situation in the moment, but will always be beneficial for humanity.

Although gratitude is a feeling, it must be cultivated through action. The following offers several suggestions for developing gratitude:

1. Make a gratitude list: Srikumar Rao, who teaches a hugely popular class at Columbia Business School, and is author of “Are You Ready to Succeed”? recommends that we write a daily list of the things that have occurred for which we are grateful. These do not need to be major events, but can be the little occurrences that we usually ignore – the train arriving on time, good weather, a satisfying meal, a stranger’s warm smile – and the wonderful people and things in our lives that we all to often take for granted – our families, spouses, friends, jobs, homes, health, bodies.

2. Say “Thank you” to others: Stay alert for opportunities to express gratitude to others as often as you can. You will find that even when you are not feeling grateful, simply saying “thank you” will connect you to others, and will have an impact beyond the moment.

3. Develop a daily gratitude prayer: All religious and spiritual traditions stress the essential nature of gratitude, and place it as the bedrock of faith. Within many of these traditions the first prayer that a practitioner says every morning is “I am thankful for having awakened to another day.” This is a prayer of gratitude to our Creator for the very miracle of our lives.

These practices remind us that gratitude is available to us at any moment and under any circumstance, even – or especially – when we are not feeling particularly thankful. Seen from the highest perspective, gratitude is the door that opens to individual and world transformation, revealing our true nature, binding us to each other, and to the Divine.

Today’s article is shared from the following website: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/rabbi-alan-lurie/gratitude-the-great-heale_b_266952.html

No widget added yet.

Make a Difference by Doing Small Things

Ordinary people who consistently and diligently do simple things will produce extraordinary results David A. Bednar

I exercise 30 minutes a day every day but Sunday. It is my sanity time – regardless of what else is going on in my world. I could never explain adequately to you what that time means to me. I’m pretty sure that I don’t even completely understand myself.

I am LDS. (Most people would better recognize me if I called myself a Mormon.)

So many years ago that I can no longer remember, I made a promise to God that I would read at least one chapter of the Book of Mormon a day. I suspect it was sometime during the early days of my headaches. I have been headache free about 10 years now and I had migraine headaches 24/7 for about 15 years – so the math would say that was a long time ago.

I can remember missing one day of reading the Book of Mormon in all of that time. I remember the day well. I was so sick that I could not lift my head. (I think God understood)

By now, both my exercise and scripture reading habit is deeply engrained. I don’t need to go into the specifics but suffice it to say that I plunged into both habits with a certain outcome in mind. Now, these many years later, the reason I cling to those habits has changed. I began exercising for strength and weight loss. I now exercise for sanity. I began my scripture reading for sanity and to receive certain blessings from God. I now read my scriptures for strength and I no longer remember the promise I sought from God.

Both of my daily habits reap amazing benefits for me and I cannot imagine living without either of them. Both habits have blessed my life spiritually, emotionally and physically.

I recently read the following scripture from the Book of Mormon:

1 Nephi 3:7 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.

In this story, Nephi and his brothers have been assigned a difficult task. Nephi is also facing great opposition from his brothers. Because he has made a habit of seeking the Lord, he understands that the Lord will provide a way for the task to be accomplished.

Because the task that Nephi and his brothers set out to accomplish takes longer than anticipated, Nephi’s mother begins to complain to her husband and becomes convinced that her sons have been killed. She blames her husband and his visions for the loss she believes she has suffered.

However, the sons eventually return and in this verse, this is what she has to say:

1 Nephi 5:8 And she spake, saying: Now I know of a surety that the Lord hath commanded my husband to flee into the wilderness; yea, and I also know of a surety that the Lord hath protected my sons, and delivered them out of the hands of Laban, and given them power whereby they could accomplish the thing which the Lord hath commanded them. And after this manner of language did she speak.

What point does all of this have for you?

The good things that we make a habit of make a difference. In and of themselves, they may seem insignificant. However, as they are practiced, day in and day out, their positive influence in our lives often makes all the difference.

We live in a face-paced world that often tried to convince us that little things don’t matter and that everything has to be accomplished ASAP.

During my near-death experience, I learned that the Lord does not operate at a microwaveable pace. Instead, He knows what He wants to see materialize in the grand scheme of things and He is more interested in the step by step positive progression we make than in how quick we get there. He is interested in transforming each of us into a masterpeice – He is not interested in the “quick fix”.

Nephi’s habit of daily seeking the Lord transforms him into an individual that I think any of us would be proud to emulate. His willingness to exercise faith in the Lord is noteworthy.

For me, his story reminds me of the importance of being consistent in what may seem the small things of life. A morning prayer, a verse of scripture read, the habit of sharing a simple complement; in time, they all compound into something more grand and glorious than we might have anticipated.

Today, I share an inspirational article that echoes my point. I hope you will enjoy!:

Consistency: The Forgotten Skill That Makes All The Difference

Let’s say you were given a choice right now.

You could either have 3 million wired to your bank account this very second or you could get a single penny that doubles in value every day for the next 31 days.

Which one would you choose?

Perhaps you’ve heard of this scenario before. In that case you know you should go for the penny because that option will generate greater wealth.

Still, it’s intuitively hard to believe the penny will result in more money in the end. Why?

Because it takes so much longer to see the payoff.

The Compounding Penny

Let’s say you decide to choose the 3 million and a friend of yours gets the penny. On day five, your friend will have sixteen cents. Not much compared to your three million.

On day number ten your friend is up to $5,12.

After 20 days the penny has increased to $5,243.

It’s not until now the magic of the invisible compound effect starts to show.

On day 31, the small mathematical growth improvement has turned the penny into no less than $10,737,418.24 – more than three times your 3 million.

The compounding penny is a great example of why consistency over time is so important.

On day 29 you were still ahead of your friend who at that point had about $2,7 million. It isn’t until day 30 that she finally pulls ahead, with $5,3 million.

Very few things are as impressive as the magic of compounding pennies. And what’s more, this force is equally powerful in every area of your life (1).

The Myth of the Quick Fix

Now, lets pretend your friend regretted her decision early on and threw the money away in frustration? $5,12 after 10 days doesn’t seem like much when you compare it to the 3 million, after all.

Now she wouldn’t have gotten to experience the awesome effect of the compounding penny and she would’ve missed out on the maginificent results that were just within her reach.

And yet this is exactly how most of us spend our time. We invest in the gym membership but quit after a month. We buy the guitar and let it collect dust. We switch to a healthy diet for a week. We put away 10 percent of our salary into a savings account… one time. The list goes on and on.

We’ve become so accustomed to immediate results and instant gratification that we’ve come to believe our personal transformation should happen instantaneously, the minute we decide we want it to happen.

Everywhere we look there’s promises of getting rich quick, lotteries that’ll make you an overnight millionaire, fad diets and training programs that’ll transform your appearance in a few weeks.

Fast food, one-hour glasses, thirty-minute photo processing, overnight mail, microwaved food, instant hot water, emails and text messages that are delivered anywhere in the world on seconds notice. These are all things that have made us come to expect instant results to the point that when we don’t get them we get discouraged and quit.

The truth is lasting change doesn’t happen quickly. But if you let the magic of compounding efforts do their thing, over time you can have some truly amazing results in any area of your life. This requires a skill we seem to have forgotten…

The Power of Relentless Consistency

For the most part, the results we’re looking for won’t come quickly. But they don’t take that long either. In my experience, it takes just a little bit longer than we’re comfortable going for.

  • Exercising for one hour three times a week for month will show very little, if any, results.
  • Reading one book in January won’t make much of an impact on your personal growth.
  • Meditating for 10 minutes for a couple of weeks won’t show much of an affect on your mind.

But what if you decided to drop the quick fix mentality and commit for the long haul? What if, instead of obsessing over (and very likely getting discouraged by) the short-term results, you chose to focus on the small steps you need to take each day to get where you want to be?

What if you turned your obsession to the simply daily disciplines that you know will make all the difference, and leave the results to take care of themselves? What if you decided to make a permanent change and stick to it for life?

Ironically, by shifting your focus away from the results you’d see plenty of them. Within a year:

  • You would have 150+ hours of exercise under your belt. More than enough to have a huge impact on your health and appearance.
  • You would have read 10+ books. This means tons of new insights, ideas and concepts to enrich your life.
  • You would have 60+ hours of meditation experience. This translates (among many other benefits) into improved focus, creativity, compassion, memory, less stress and anxiety.

But these estimations aren’t accurate. You see, the effects of positive change tend to compound just like the penny did, and spill over into other areas. Once you get into exercising and start feeling good at it, you’ll want to do it more. And then you’ll naturally become motivated to change your diet. And your sleeping habits.

You’ll get the energy and inspiration to read more books. You’ll learn to read faster and get quicker at understanding the concepts and ideas. Then the ideas from the books you’re reading start spilling over to every area of your life. Soon this ripple effect will showing all kinds of results you weren’t even planning for. And the more consistent you are, the more rapid your personal growth will become.

How to Develop World-Class Consistency

1. Let go of your need for short-term results. The first step to develop game-changing consistency in everything you do is to realize that true, sustainable change doesn’t work the same way that your microwave does.

If you want to transform your health, physical appearance, finances, relationships or some other area of your life you need to ignore the mainstream advice for getting rich quick and building rock hard abs in three weeks. You cannot change your situation overnight, but you can change the direction you’re heading in. And that’s enough.

  • Take a look at you long-term goals. What small action do you need to do every day to get you there? Remember, ”small” is the key word here. A five minute walk. Veggies on your dinner plate. 2 pages in a book. 1 minute of meditating. Start so small that it’s impossible for you to say no and let the magic of the compound effect start working for you.

2. Commit to your habits, not your goals. Goals can give you a burning motivation… and they can get you completely stuck. The problem with focusing too much on your goals is that they remind you of how far you have yet to go which can lead to overwhelm and in worst case complete stagnation.

If you have 40 pounds to loose, and your scale keeps showing nothing but status quo or minuscule improvements it can be disheartening. But if you decide to measure only how many healthy behaviours you manage to pull off every day, suddenly you’re completely in control of the outcome. As you keep sticking to your daily habits, the more you’ll get addicted to them, and you’ll start to build some serious momentum.

  • Start tracking your habits. Create a list of your habits and check them off every time you complete them. Be proud of your small wins and you’ll soon start building some great momentum. Apps like coach.me is great for this.

3. Review your progress. No matter how good your intentions are you will slip up from time to time, especially when you’re just starting a new habit. That’s why it’s crucial to go back and review your progress continuously. Schedule fifteen minutes once a week to:

  • Celebrate what you did well. If you’ve pulled off a great streak in your habit formations, acknowledge it! Reinforce your habits by patting yourself on the back and being proud of what you’ve accomplished. Also examine what went wrong. If a habit for some reason didn’t get done, have a close look at the reasons why and then adjust your game plan accordingly. Perhaps you fell victim for the planning fallacy and need to reschedule. Maybe you keep forgetting your habits and need to attach them to implementation intentions. Perhaps you need to change your environment a bit to promote your habit. Maybe you need to raise the stakes. Feel free to shoot me a message if you get stuck.

Fall in Love With the Process

In the gym, people tend to be most impressed with the people who are the most fit. Not me. I’m most impressed with the people who are out of shape and still keep showing up.

Why? Because those fit people already got this stuff down. At least when it comes to their exercise. They’ve fallen in love with process. And when you’re in love with the process is no longer hard work to show up at the gym. It’s just something you do. It’s part of your lifestyle and your identity. You don’t need to muster up a bunch of willpower to go to the gym. You just go because that’s what you do and you’d feel worse if you didn’t.

The out of shape person doesn’t have this luxury. He or she is in the thick of it, working hard to getting the habit working, fighting to form a new identity of an active person. To me, that’s way more impressive.

The good news is anyone can fall in love with the process. Every expert was once an amateur and every master was first a beginner. What separates them from the crowd is their relentless consistency in showing up and doing the work.

Drop your need for immediate results, focus on your daily habits and keep adjusting as you go. The results are always within reach, just slightly beyond where most people are willing to go.

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap,
but by the seeds that you plant.”

Robert Louis Stevenson

Sources

1. The story about the compounding penny is borrowed from Darren Hardy’s awesome book The Compound Effect: Jumpstart Your Income, Your Life, Your Success

Today’s inspiring articles was written by Patrik and is shared from the following website: http://www.selfication.com/mindset/consistency/

No widget added yet.