Instead of worrying about what bad thing might happen, we can rejoice in what good things will happen.
When we try to make positive changes, it works. We improve the world daily.
For every worst-case scenario, there is also a best-case scenario.
Nothing can grow exponentially forever. Growth levels off.
We have had so many innovations, development, and major advances in the world in the last few decades.
We notice the negative so that we can fix it. But then when we fix it, we don’t notice anymore.
People do good things all on their own all the time. People are a force for good.
We can’t predict the future–but we can choose to make our future better.
Over the history of the entire world, things always get better in the long-term.
There is humor and goodness in every hard situation.
It can be really easy to get discouraged right now. But there is so much good happening. We will get through this time, and we will probably be better off at the end of it.
Sometimes I am reading a book or watching a movie and I want to make sure that everything will work out all right in the end of it. When it’s a TV show, I often know that things will work out because there is another episode. But isn’t that life? There is always another episode, which means that we continue on and we don’t have to be afraid of an unpleasant ending.
Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place. -Rumi
There have been times when I rejected sorrow, wishing for a happy and easy life. I did not want to feel sad. I did not want to struggle.
I would pray seeking relief. I would pray that everything could just change and everything would become better all at once. And while there have been many times when I have been delivered, I find myself profoundly grateful for my sorrow as well.
In hard times, I have not looked to the gospel to save me from those times, but to save me through those times. The gospel gave me continual hope and guidance–I could not see the end, but I could hope in each next step. I have built my faith because of difficult times.
Miracles happen. And miracles happen not because everything is easy, but because they are hard.
Over the past few days, I have read article after article, trying to figure out how we can go back to normal. I read about different possibilities of what might happen and I want to know how this end. But we don’t go back to normal–we find a a new normal instead, something that we can’t wrap our minds around right now.
If we are always thinking about and looking to the the future, we can miss the good that is happening now. Yesterday, I did a video chat with all of my family members. I watched my kids as they played outside for ages. I watched a video of quarantined people in Italy making music on balconies.
I realized that I don’t have to hope for a better future.
I can have hope for now.
If worst-case-scenario happens and it’s awful, you can tell your children you love them. You can serve in small ways. Worst-case-scenario will never be without hope and happiness somewhere.
There is no hole so deep and there is so circumstance that is too bleak that light cannot enter in some way.
No matter how hard life is, there is still good. Good is infinite and it never ends. Right in each moment, there is something good you can do. In despair, you can do something.
You don’t need to pause your life and wait for things to work out. You can live for now.
As long as you keep creating and loving, you can keep living.
No matter what is happening in life, you have the ability to create something. You have the ability to connect. You have the ability to help.
Music and art and words and laughter and growth and friendship are always there. That is where hope is.
The essence of our lives is not the convenience, but the innovation and the creativity.
If you want joy, create. Draw. Sing. Write. Make something. And then share it. Connect. And that creating and connecting can never go away.
The world won’t end. Because the best parts of life, family and people and learning and growing and being, those best parts can never, ever be taken away from us.
Take hope not in the end of trial, but in that fact that no matter the difficult circumstances, you can wake up, greet the sunrise, and live beautifully right in that moment.
Things are rough right now. Pandemics and earthquakes and economic uncertainty. We are looking at a recession and a health crisis and we are all stuck at home, isolated from normal life. I’ve been checking the news constantly, though I’m not sure what I am looking for–some way to understand this? Some morsel of hope that this will end and life can go back to normal?
But it will end. We will recover. That’s what people do. We pick themselves up and we keep going.
There is hope. So much hope. I have been reading some books about when times were harder than they are now–times in war and famine; times where disease was rampant and healthcare was almost nonexistent and children and parents died. We have learned so much since then–we have learned how to treat and prevent disease, how to stabilize an economy, and how to build better infrastructure.
Let’s not feel entitled to our comforts and our easy way of living. We are accustomed to good health and to readily available care. Our large, warm homes protect us with readily available food and supplies in abundance. We are used to continual growth and innovation and prosperity. And those things haven’t gone away.
We are resilient. The hard things in life do not derail us from the love and hope and charity that abound in the world. The hard things are a catalyst to strengthen all that is good. We can remember everything that we have and to be extraordinarily grateful.
While so many things are shut down, we have the internet that allows us to continue on in remarkable ways. We can still see each other and talk to each other. Our schools and work can transition to our computers and phones. With our technology, we can order basically anything we want to buy and stay updated with the latest news and find stories of people helping and serving others. And we can listen to messages of hope.
It’s a time for a different type of growth. We can learn humility, preparedness, self-reliance, unity, and connection with our families. And we can feel hope and peace that the Lord’s hand is in our life in the small details.
My Grandma Walker passed away two days ago. But she saw the good things in the world. I remember her smiling often. She was so grateful for other people. She trusted in God’s love for her. When she was young, her family would be running out of food and she would go down to the cellar and always find something more. As a teacher throughout her life, she shared her faith in others. Miracles were not the exception; miracles were how the Lord worked and she saw them often in her life.
I have hope this morning, even though it is Wednesday and I usually hate Wednesdays. It can be a good Wednesday because I am grateful for my family, for this world, for the chance to write this, and for happiness and joy that will always return and persist through any difficult time.
Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true. (Alma 32:21)
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)
There are certain things that I do know. I know that there is a God. I know that the power of the atonement of Jesus Christ has worked miracles in my life. I know the Book of Mormon brings me joy. But there are a lot of things that I don’t know. I don’t understand all the answers and I can’t answer all the questions.
But if I did have all the answers, then I wouldn’t have faith. If I knew everything perfectly, I wouldn’t need faith.
And I like faith. Because I am not capable of understanding everything right now. I can know some things, but not everything. And faith means I don’t have to know everything right now. I don’t have to have it figured out.
Faith means that there is hope in dark places. Faith means that there is more to life than I understand. Faith means that there is help and happiness ahead. Faith means that there can be unexpected miracles that bring joy.
I can have faith. I can’t have all the answers. But I can have faith.
My life necessitates that we aren’t really that busy. We have to spend a lot of time together as a family. Sometimes we moan and groan and complain about it a little bit, but we also laugh a lot and really enjoy quite a bit of the time we have.
I know that a lot of people get really busy and they have a lot going on. I have used that excuse, but it’s usually not very accurate. Yes, I am busy sometimes. I may have a lot on my to-do list. Or I might have lots of places to go and do things. But it never lasts that way for a long time.
I hope that as my kids get older and our life changes, that we don’t get too busy to do the really important things. Sometimes family time doesn’t seem that urgent, but it is. The best moments are not always on the schedule or show up on any list. They exist when you are paying attention and you see the people in front of you.
I know that there are enough activities and busyness in the world to fill up several lifetimes. But I still want time so that I can wash the dishes with a kid next to me, play the piano while they fall asleep, read my kids a story, teach them something new, and listen and be there without having to rush somewhere else. I need those moments.
And when I am busy, when there is so much to do, I have found that I can include my kids. I once stuck my computer screen onto the TV so the kids could see what I was doing. I’ve talked to my kids about my plans and what I’m trying to accomplish. I’m happiest when I include them in doing things, even if it takes some effort from me. We can love and support each other when we are busy, so that we aren’t busy alone.
I don’t want to be caught up in filling up our lives so that we don’t have time with each other anymore. Relationships are always more important than accomplishments.
Sometimes it’s hard to see the Lord’s hand in our lives, but sometimes that’s because we don’t have the right perspective.
I was thinking of pointillism paintings where you have to look closely to see the paint strokes and you have to look far away to see the picture. You need both perspectives to understand the painting.
We may have to look really closely to see the Lord’s help in our life, because he helps with very small things that are easily dismissed. We have so many blessings that we don’t always even notice: How many times have we prayed to be safe and we have remained safe? How many times have our finances worked out exactly right, like having the right amount of savings or finding good deals right when we need them? I have been given strength and happiness in difficult circumstances. We’ve had really good days when I’ve been able to know what to do and say with my children. I’ve been able to complete school work quickly. I’ve had opportunities at the right time. I’ve had such good friendships. And so many blessings have come from a loving Heavenly Father, if I choose to look at them.
For a long time, I wanted to be able to live in a town and send my kids to school and live a more normal life. It’s not what I have right now: we homeschool and we live far away from a small town and life is different. But it’s not bad either. I’ve prayed and hoped that things would change, and they didn’t change. But I’m okay with that right now, because I’ve been blessed in so many small ways: I found good books and ideas that helps us with homeschool. I’ve been able to think of myself in a new and better way. I never thought I could really teach, but now there are days that I absolutely love it. I’ve had inspiration, like I put the TV away for most of the week and we were so much happier. I’ve been able to complete projects on my computer more quickly so I can spend time with my kids.
I have felt this :
And now, my brethren, I desire that ye shall plant this word in your hearts, and as it beginneth to swell even so nourish it by your faith. And behold, it will become a tree, springing up in you unto everlasting life. And then may God grant unto you that your burdens may be light, through the joy of his Son. And even all this can ye do if ye will. Amen. (Alma 33:23)
While I do ask for specific blessings that don’t happen, there are also so many times I am blessed in better ways that I could have not expected.
I have to look at the details, and sometimes I need to zoom out and see the overall perspective as well. I get too caught up in negative moments, thinking that hard times will last forever (they don’t). I believe in a life after this one, that everything will be made right. I don’t need to have everything right now. I want to progress and grow and change, and that requires patience with myself and trust in the the Lord’s timing.
1. Go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time.
If sleeping is a problem, research good sleep hygiene and do the little things, like not watching television or eating or exercising before bed, having a good routine to wind down, and learning relaxation techniques and thought defusion techniques in order to calm worries and anxieties. I can not compromise sleep or I pay for it. Sometimes if I stay up late, I find that I’m acting like a different person the next day.
2. Eat regular and healthy meals and snacks and drink lots of water.
We all have our bad eating tendences. I tend to not eat enough sometimes, and so I have to remind myself to have snacks, eat more fruits and veggies, and not forget to eat. Some people snack throughout the whole day. Other people eat too much sugar or too much salt. But while bad eating habits are all bad in their own way, good eating habits look alike: more fruits and veggies and whole grains; less sugar; breakfast, lunch, and dinner; concrete snack instead of grazing; mindfulness about what you are eating. And drink water. I’ve lived half my life minorly dehydrated and it’s not healthy.
3. Exercise and regular physical activity.
Exercising for ten or twenty minutes in the morning and then sitting for the rest of the day is really not the best. I’m trying to live a more active lifestyle, and that can be hard. I try to play with my kids and go on walks and resist laziness. And I do like to formally exercise as well. I have a lot of different apps on my phone I switch between, like 7-minute workouts and yoga. I still want to improve on this–I want to feel stronger, and I know vigorous walking is a really good way to clear my mind.
4. Spend time outside.
I find myself incredibly happier when I spend more time outside. But in our modern lives, sometimes there is barely reason to go outside. We make excuses if it is hot or raining or snowing or whatever, but with proper preparation, you can be outside in almost every kind of weather, at least for a minute. Whenever I go camping, I feel this release when I have to be outside to cook and go to the bathroom and live. I wonder why we’ve made our lives so closed out to the outside world sometimes. Kick your kids outside to play and you’ll find that they are way less cranky–and if you go join them, you’re going to be less cranky too.
5. Practice Mindfulness and Meditation
You’ve probably heard about this because it’s everywhere right now, and there are so many guides and apps out there. I am not a very mindful person and meditation is incredibly difficult for me, which is why I keep trying anyway. I need it to calm my mind and to remember what I value. And you don’t have to be good at it to be good at doing it. A week of distracted meditation is better than a week of no meditation. Just keep trying.
6. Limit screen time
How many times do you check your phone? How much time do you spend staring at a screen? Even if you do it for work or school, is there a way you can reduce it? I get constantly distracted on my phone and my computer, but I put blocks into place to help me. I usually have my web browser blocked on my phone so I can’t access the entire internet, and I never install games. And on my computer, I have an app called FocusMe (which I paid for, and it was worth it), which helps me block things without easy ways of getting to them again.
There are lots of ways to simplify your life. You can get rid of stuff: when you look in a closet and the only things in there are the things you use and you love, you feel a whole lot calmer. We try to only have toys we really play with. It’s so nice to be have space around you and room to breathe. The joy of having a simpler life is much greater than the joy of having lots of stuff. And you can simplify your time too. What projects can you drop? How can you simplify errands and routines? How can you simplify parenting? How can you simplify your finances? If there is a way to simplify, that way may be a better way.
8. Set regular routines and follow them
You don’t have to have routines for the whole day, just small routines that help you know where you are. I wake up and read my scriptures, say my prayers, meditate, exercise, eat breakfast, read scriptures as a family, get in the shower, and get my kids dressed. If I do that every morning, my days go so much better. In the evening, we put the kids in the tub, brush teeth, and then read stories and say prayers. Kids like routine. Adults like routine. Life should have some stability to it.
9. Serve others and increase social interaction
Isolating yourself is really easy, but it will make you miserable. We need face-to-face interaction with other people. And we need to serve other people too. I’m always much happier when I serve, and sometimes it means that I drop what I’m doing in order to send a message, make a phone call, go visit, say hello, or edit something for someone. Making someone else happy in meaningful ways increases your own happiness.
10. Prayer and Scripture Study
My daily prayer and scripture study is essential to my life and my mental health. I need the Lord’s help in all of this. We all do.
I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 20:35)
Sometimes I think I want blessings like these:
Owning my own house that is well-decorated with a beautiful garden
Figuring out a perfect schedule that enables me to always be on task and accomplish everything
More money and better stuff that works and doesn’t break
Being able to see people that are fun to be around
Living where I would like to live, in a convenient place with lots of good people
But instead, throughout my life I have received blessings more like these:
Living in an area that was fairly low-income with people that needed a lot of help and support
Visiting with people that were overwhelmed with their own problems
Living in highly inconvenient places and making friends with people who are not like me at all
Learning hard lessons and then being able to share and help other people because I’ve been there
Becoming really good friends through people I have helped and who have helped me
And looking back on my life, I have had much greater satisfaction when I have been able to give. It’s not very meaningful to get everything you want for your birthday. It’s not very interesting when life is easy and you have everything you ever wanted.
We like to struggle. And we like to help each other in that struggle. The best relationships I have are built through serving and loving–people I have served and people who have helped me. Those relationships are much stronger than sharing common interests. They mean a whole lot more.
And those relationships are the basis of a good and happy life. My greatest blessings in my life have been the opportunities I have been given to help other people. I would always give up an easy and rich and fortunate life if that meant that I could develop meaningful relationships and be in a position to help others.
I didn’t realize that when I was younger–my dreams and goals were more about myself than about helping other people. And I’m so glad life has gone in a very different direction, and the Lord has blessed me so much in unexpected ways.