Things aren’t always as they seem.

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Have you ever looked at someone that you admire and thought, geez, I wish I could be more like her/him.  They have it all, a great job, great family, great spouse,  their kids are perfect, they always seem happy.  And look at that home…. it’s ALWAYS clean.  And so and so on.

You think to yourself, I can’t even keep the laundry folded (or maybe even washed) and dinner on the table. Wait, I can’t even fix dinner because I haven’t had any time to go the store in the last couple of weeks.  And pretty soon you’ve talked yourself into such a personal pity party that you’re fighting with your imperfect kids.  And you’re short with your husband and friends.  You may be fuming about work projects or situations where you just felt that things were dumped on you, or just not fair.

Does any of that sound familiar to you?  Me too!  We’re so good at finding all of our flaws and imperfections and comparing them to the strengths of others whom you admire.  But the truth is, things aren’t always as they seem!  In fact rarely are they as they look on the outside.  EVERYBODY (at least in my past 51 years of experience) is going through something hard.  And to a certain degree, we all try to put on the face that nothing is wrong everything is just rosy!  It’s time for us to get real, and quit the fake.  That is quite the buzz word at the moment isn’t it?  Just quit the fake, right? But it’s not really that easy to do.

Let me ask you a couple of questions that I really want you to ponder.  Really ponder.

1.What is it about my life that is sooo horrible that I can’t help but look at others and want what they have?  And

2. What good is there in my life right now that others might see as optimal (the blessings you have in your life)?

Sometimes we are so focused on what we don’t have that we forget to be grateful and celebrate the things that we do have!

I personally think that is why it is so important to keep some sort of daily gratitude journal!  It reminds you to be aware and mindful of all the little things that are good in your life.  It helps you to focus on the positives.

One of the the things in my own life that I could really make into a horrible thing, I can make it a negative or a positive, is the fact that I have Bipolar disorder.  It would be very easy for me to look at all the negative that comes along with this diagnosis.  And it does get the best of me at times.  But one of the ways that I try to make it into a positive is to try and help others who may be struggling with similar issues.  I am always amazed that just by sharing what I go through, it always touches someone in some way.  Sometimes it is in a big way and other times it is as small as them recognizing that they are not alone.  They don’t always reach out and let me know, but when they do, it always makes me feel like what I am struggling with is a blessing that I can use to help others in their own lives.

And lastly, looking at and focusing on the good in your life is a practice that is so easy to pick up and really doesn’t take much.  Try recording just 3 things daily that are good in your life that day, that moment.  It doesn’t have to be anything big.  Sometimes for me it is just the fact that I am here on this Earth living another day!

So with that said, go out and look for the good today!  Remember that things aren’t always as they seem when viewing what others are putting out there.  And know that you are never alone!  I see you!

 

Gratitude starts with an attitude

It’s interesting to me that within the word “gratitude” lies the word attitude (without the extra “t” of course).  Isn’t it ironic that this character trait of Gratitude, that is so important to have in our lives would be intertwined with another important characteristic?  I don’t think so, I believe it really is intertwined for a purpose, that it is all in our attitude as to how much we value and use gratitude in our lives.  I sincerely try to be grateful for all things.  Even the events that I can not understand and the hard experiences that I go through, such as my illness.  I “choose” to experience them with a heart of gratitude.  You see, we each personally get to choose our attitude.  Thereby making it possible for us to have an attitude of gratitude daily in what ever comes our way.  Now it’s certainly not easy, in any sense of the word.  But if we can try to “live in thanksgiving daily”  as it states in Alma 34:38 of the Book of Mormon, we may find that it makes our days significantly better;   …and that ye live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you.

After I went through my divorce, I really struggled with this concept.  I felt lonely, betrayed by some and I was bitter.  I had a hard time choosing to have a grateful heart.  I knew that it was up to me and that I needed to change my attitude and when it came right down to it, it wasn’t difficult to find things to be grateful for.  I had 4 amazing healthy children, whom I love with all my heart,  I had a roof over my head, and most thankfully I had a good enough relationship with their father that made it much easier to deal with the divorce and all that comes with it.  I know that not everyone gets to experience a divorce in that way.  Like I said there was plenty for me to be bitter about, but I chose to look for the things that I could be grateful for during that time and that’s how I was able to survive it.

Elder Wilford W. Anderson of the Seventy said something in a recent BYU address that I found very important he said: “Gratitude will inoculate you against pride and make a way for your escape from the pride cycle,” 

So the opposite of Gratitude is pride!  He goes on to say: “There is a prevalent pattern of behavior in the Book of Mormon commonly referred to as the ‘pride cycle,’” he said. “It is repeated so frequently that one begins to sense that the Lord and His prophets are trying to teach us something important—that perhaps its inclusion in the record is meant to be a warning from the Lord to each of us in our day.”

One of the ways that we can experience more gratitude and inoculate ourselves against pride in our lives, is to reach outside of our little circle and find ways to serve others.  The Christmas season is a great time to begin that habit.  We just had Thanksgiving and hopefully you got to spend time enjoying those closest to you.  Now it is time for us to look for ways that we can help others who may be lonely, hurt, lost, or in need in some way.  The LDS church of which I am a member, has a great program designed to do just that!  It is called #lighttheworld I would invite you to participate in this great program with your family throughout the month of December who knows, maybe it will become something that you can do all year round!

Elder Anderson ended his remarks with this statement “Recognize that all good things come from God,” he said. “He is the source of every blessing you receive. Fill your heart with gratitude for His merciful kindness. Treasure and follow the counsel of His servants. Your gratitude will inoculate you against pride and make a way for your escape from the pride cycle.”

Let’s let go of our pride this Christmas season and look outside ourselves and find the one who needs YOU!  Sometimes YOU are the one that is called to touch another.  Don’t let that opportunity pass you by!

Use this calendar put out by the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints for inspiration in coming up with ideas and activities that you can do for #lighttheworld

https://www.mormon.org/christmas/25-ways-25-days-calendar