Tuesday, February 18, 2014

10 Things I Do When I'm Feeling Down

All week long I have been focusing on my Adversity Lesson and it has helped me reflect and think about how I handle the struggles I'm going through in my life.  I've thought about my good days and bad days and what has helped me make it through the bad.  

In our family growing up, I was the middle child.  I was the trouble maker and I know the most difficult kid to raise (sorry mom and dad).  My older brother, Adam, on the other hand, was perfect.  He always looked out for me and protected me.  He was seriously my hero as I awkwardly stumbled through childhood.


I have this memory of the two of us.  I was mad about something and sitting up in my room listening to music or whatever it is teenagers do when their angry with their parents.  Adam came in and sat down beside me.  I vented to him about everything, how "this isn't fair" and "why wont they let me do this?"  He sat silently and listened to every word.
I knew he understood.  I knew he was listening with his whole heart and was aware of what I was feeling.  Then he gave me some advice.  He put the situation into a different perspective and had me try and put myself in mom's and dad's shoes.  Adam has always been an old, wise soul, even during his youth.  He was there that day to comfort me and cheer me up.
The most important part of this memory was what happened next.  He nudged me and said, "C'mon.  Don't sit in your room being upset all day.  Let's go and do something."  

When I think about the atonement, I know that the Lord knows my pains and can comfort me when I'm feeling sad.  But sometimes I stop there.  Sometimes it feels good to be sad.  I feel more justified about what I'm going through and find myself sitting alone feeling sorry for myself.  But the Lord doesn't want us to do this.  It's okay to feel sorrow at first, but we also need to move on.  



Even though our Savior went through pain and suffering, I don't think he would sit and linger on the negative experiences he went through.  And neither should we.  When we are faced with a difficult trial the Lord can come into our lives and understand us and comfort us through the atonement.  But then we need to get up and move on.  He wants us to take his hand, walk away from our sorrows, and be happy.

I sat down and decided to make a list of my TOP TEN things I do to try and stay positive.

1.  I COUNT MY BLESSINGS... OUT LOUD
I know this sounds SUPER corny, but I swear it works.
I was on my way to work one day, just grumpy as could be.  I didn't want to go, I was practically in tears and for some reason I started listing to myself all of the things I was thankful for in that five minute drive.  By the time I arrived I was SO HAPPY.  I spent my entire shift smiling and being thankful for everything around me, including my great job!

2.  I INVITE THE SPIRIT INTO MY HOME
Elder Dallin H. Oaks said, "If we are practicing our faith and seeking the companionship of the Holy Spirit, His presence can be felt in our hearts and in our homes."  
Whenever I'm just feeling "BLEH," it helps when I walk in the living room and switch on some uplifting music.  I turn on my SCENTSY to lighten the mood and tidy up any clutter.  Then I bake some cookies or find and activity that brings peace into my home.


3.  I FIND A NEW PASSION THAT DISTRACTS ME FROM MY TRIALS
I have tried doing this in the past and it didn't work.  I would find a fresh hobby or learn something new and would eventually get bored, find myself down again and now burdened with unfinished projects to add to my list of things to do.  
The key is truly finding something you are PASSIONATE about.  
It took me a while to discover what my passion was.  It even took nights and nights of praying, asking my Heavenly Father to help me find ways to be happy and adapt to my circumstances instead of pleading for my circumstances to change.  
But one day I found it and I began writing.  And I kept writing every single day and still do.  I have found that my positive attitude has been stronger these last few months than they've ever been before.  I have used my writing to keep myself distracted from my troubles.  


4.  I ASK FOR PRIESTHOOD BLESSINGS
Everyone has a love language, right?  And a love tank that constantly needs to be filled to feel appreciated?  I have come to realize that I have a spiritual tank.  And when I receive priesthood blessings of comfort from my husband or another priesthood holder my tank OVERFLOWS.  It gives me a huge emotional boost knowing my Heavenly Father is there for me and loves me.
The words of comfort which are spoken I know are coming directly from my Father in Heaven and I can't describe the peace and happiness I feel inside when I feel His love encompass my soul.

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5.  I LOSE MYSELF IN SERVICE
This one is kind of like when I count my blessings.  At first I might roll my eyes and think of it more like a chore than something fun to do, but once I act upon it I end my day with feelings of pure joy.  When you find someone around you to help and serve, you become numb to your own worries and adjust your focal point to someone who needs it more.  
I have a challenge for you.  Set aside a teeny, tiny, microscopic budget for helping others.  I mean it.  Do it.  Now.  Go.  Seriously.
Even if it's two dollars a day.  That adds up to $62 by the end of the month.  Take that money and plan an activity with your family to anonymously help another person.  I swear, you will be smiling all week long!  Whether you use it to pay for someone's dinner, donate it to a charity, or buy a huge bag of dog food and doorbell ditch the local humane society with fresh puppy chow, giving away your money to help others is so fulfilling and rewarding deep in your shaky bones.

Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Matthew 25:40

6.  I CHANGE AROUND MY FURNITURE
Sometimes if I get a little depressed all I need is a simple change.  Moving things around to grasp that "fresh start" feeling helps me feel motivated to get up and do things.  We've started getting giddy for spring cleaning the house and embracing that extra refreshing boost.


7.  I TAKE MY SHOWERS WITH THE LIGHTS OFF
So weird, I know.  But whenever I'm feeling down, I do this and I love it.  I turn on the water and quickly memorize which shelf has the shampoo bottle and which one has the conditioner so I don't mix them up, then shut off the lights and shower in complete darkness.  It helps me sort through my thoughts.  I like to do this to get inspired to write too.  Something about the darkness takes away distractions and allows me to focus and think more clearly.  It can help me control my thoughts so I can brush out the negative and embrace the positive.

8.  I GET SOME FRESH AIR
This is incredibly easy to do when one is married to a mountain man.  Mitch can be busy working on anything and if I tell him I feel like going on a hike, he will literally drop everything and say, "I'll go get my boots."  I think being away from people and surrounding yourself with nature's tranquility allows you to meditate and see a bigger picture so you can realize how little your problems are on the grand scale of things.


9.  I SPOIL MYSELF
If I'm grumpy and desperate, I run to the freezer and chow down on vanilla ice cream.  With chocolate sauce.  And whipped cream.  AND rainbow sprinkles.
Sometimes I just need a fun shopping day to buy a new outfit or I'll get some flowers for the kitchen table.  The other day I was feeling negative and I had this strange desire to color in a coloring book, so BY GOLLY I DID!!  I" kindergardened" it up (yes, I made that verb up) and dusted off my colored pencils.  I may have felt a little childish, but strangely I felt satisfied and happier afterwards.  I do what I want!


10.  I GO TO THE TEMPLE
Even if I'm just walking around the outside of the building, I feel a beautiful peace.  The temple to me is a lot like when I'm out in nature.  My perspective is forced outside of myself and everything seems bigger.  Countless times I have attended the temple because I was troubled by something and seeking inspiration.  But as soon as I step inside, none of it matters anymore.  I sit in the celestial room and stare at the awe-inspiring chandeliers sparkling above me and realize everything is taken care of.  Our adversities and afflictions shall be but a small moment. Everything will be okay and no matter what trial I am facing, with help from the Lord, I can withstand anything.


HAPPY TESTIMONY TUESDAY

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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Why Do We Have Adversity?

Get this week's lesson here.


In writing, there always has to be conflict, or you have no story.  When a reader is reading a book, they want to help the main character solve their problems and watch them grow through their struggles.  Can you imagine how boring Lord of the Rings would have been if Frodo had no adversity?  What would be the point of the story?

In our lives, there must be opposition in all things.  We can not experience happiness without misery (2 Nephi 2:11).  When Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden, they were glad and felt joy that their eyes were opened because of their transgression (Moses 5:10-11).

If we never got sick we'd never appreciate being healthy
When we exercise, without the pain of sore muscles we'd never get stronger
If we didn't have bad days we wouldn't recognize the good days


The idea of adversity and enduring trials in my life brings the lingering thoughts of a few painful memories, but with that, the completeness of a beautiful understanding of why it is necessary in our lives.

WRAPPED TIGHTLY IN ITS COCOON, THE DEVELOPING CHRYSALIS MUST STRUGGLE WITH ALL ITS MIGHT TO BREAK ITS CONFINEMENT.  THE BUTTERFLY MIGHT THINK, WHY MUST I SUFFER SO?  … SUCH THOUGHTS WOULD BE CONTRARY TO THE CREATORS DESIGN.  THE STRUGGLE TO BREAK OUT OF THE COCOON DEVELOPS THE BUTTERFLY SO IT CAN FLY.  WITHOUT THAT ADVERSITY, THE BUTTERFLY WOULD NEVER HAVE THE STRENGTH TO ACHIEVE ITS DESTINY.
-JOSEPH B. WIRTHLIN


When Joseph Smith struggled in Carthage Jail he was told 
"All these things shall give thee experience and shall be for thy good.
The Son of man hath descended below them all.  Art thou greater than he?"

We will all experience trials.  When you reflect on the song THE WISE MAN AND THE FOOLISH MAN did you ever stop and noticed the rains came down on BOTH of them?  Not just the foolish man who was making poor choices?  Everyone in this life will have to experience challenges.

I love President Monson's talk HOW FIRM A FOUNDATION:
At the time I met him, President Tanner was president of the vast Trans-Canada Pipelines, Ltd., and president of the Canada Calgary Stake. He was known as “Mr. Integrity” in Canada. During that first meeting, we discussed, among other subjects, the cold Canadian winters, where storms rage, temperatures can linger well below freezing for weeks at a time, and where icy winds lower those temperatures even further. I asked President Tanner why the roads and highways in western Canada basically remained intact during such winters, showing little or no signs of cracking or breaking, while the road surfaces in many areas where winters are less cold and less severe developed cracks and breaks and potholes.
Said he, “The answer is in the depth of the base of the paving materials. In order for them to remain strong and unbroken, it is necessary to go very deep with the foundation layers. When the foundations are not deep enough, the surfaces cannot withstand the extremes of weather.”
Over the years I have thought often of this conversation and of President Tanner’s explanation, for I recognize in his words a profound application for our lives. Stated simply, if we do not have a deep foundation of faith and a solid testimony of truth, we may have difficulty withstanding the harsh storms and icy winds of adversity which inevitably come to each of us.
When I did track in high school, I remember practicing my high jump approaches over and over.  My coach used to say, "I want you to learn your approach so well that you'd be able to jump with your eyes closed!"
Can you imagine blindly springing as fast as you can towards heavy standards and a bar that could clothesline you, jumping high into the air and landing on your back on what hopefully should be a cushioned mat if you approached correctly?
I practiced and practiced and practiced until I had every step and every turn perfectly memorized.  I still looked at where I was landing, but I remember thinking, if someone ever wrapped a blindfold around my head, I've totally got this.
Then one spring day... in Central Oregon.... it began to snow.  And it snowed HARD.  It was during a track meet and they called my name to jump.  I had already practiced and taped my marks on the ground and knew where to start my approach.  I looked up at the high jump bar, and the snow falling was so thick that I couldn't see the pit.  I just saw white.  I felt like I was blind!
Looking back on it, the wise choice would have probably been to wait for the snow to pass to avoid a major injury.  But in my mind, I heard my coach's words, "Learn your approach so you can jump with your eyes closed."  I felt confident from all my earlier practices and I ran.  I sprinted into nothingness.  I turned and planted and when I jumped, it felt like I was flying through the clouds.  I stretched through the air having faith that the mat would catch me, even though I couldn't see it.
And it did.  And I cleared the height!


When we build a strong foundation of faith and a testimony of truth, we won't panic when adversity comes our way.  We just need to keep doing what we were doing before and rely on the Lord.  Know that He is in control, fall into His arms and trust that He's there to catch us.

 7 My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment;
 8 And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes.


What does endurance mean?  If you were racing, is it being like BOLT from the Olympics and sprinting 100 meters or is it like the long distance runners that run around the track over and over and OVER again and have to go for MILES before crossing the finish line?
I always thought long distance running was so much harder because it's not only testing you physically, but mentally as well.  You're constantly telling yourself, "My body hurts so bad.  I hate this.  I want to quit.  No, don't stop!  Let go of the pain.  I hate this."

My favorite quote from the book UNBROKEN was during Louie Zamperini's race when he said:
"A LIFETIME OF GLORY IS WORTH A MOMENT OF PAIN"

Although it may hurt now, our afflictions will be but a small moment.  Through the atonement we can be comforted during our challenges and sorrows.  Our trials are there to perfect us.  And if we develop a strong foundation, our faith will be there to strengthen us when the rains come tumbling down.

LAST THING
I PICKED A FEW OF MY FAVORITE SCRIPTURES EXPLAINING WHY WE HAVE ADVERSITY AND MADE A WORKSHEET FOR THE GIRLS TO FILL OUT.