Do you know how to be happy?

A few days ago Ann, Nick and I were talking about some of the hard things people we know are going through. I said something like “I hope that they can be happy.”

Ann surprised me a little with her response: “I’m not sure they know how to be happy.”

If you’re like me, you’ll stop and think about that for a while.

On the surface, it seems ridiculous. Surely everyone knows how to be happy, right?handstand-1439662

If things are good, then you are, you know, happy.

It’s the natural order of things.

Or is it?

Just like anything else in life that is worthwhile, being happy takes hard work.

A lot of it.

Continue reading Do you know how to be happy?

Gain faith, grant forgiveness and then go forward

(All images in this post are from the LDS Media Library)

I remember a conversation I had with my dad several years ago. We were in his office at work and I was in meltdown mode.

So what’s new, right?

But I was stumbling over inadequate words trying to communicate the incredible fear that would grip me, paralyzing me inside and sending me into frantic pacing on the outside.

I wasn’t afraid of anything in particular; I was just full of fear of everything.

And nothing.

Suffice it to say that it was pretty maddening.

I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a picnic for Ann and the kids either.

Lately I’ve been able to make clear contrasts between then and now.

Jesus embracing

The entombing fear is gone; I know in my head and my heart and my spirit that I have nothing to fear.

Why?

Continue reading Gain faith, grant forgiveness and then go forward

When Happy and Sad make room for each other

Not many mornings ago I found myself in that wet-concrete of being trapped between sleep and awake, with the accompanying confusion between misty reality and all-too-real dreams.

It had been kind of a rough night and rather than waking refreshed, I was more tired than when I had gone to bed the night before.

depression3I was sad physically, emotionally and mentally.

As I turned my head to face the window and the light coming through, a tear slowly fell down past my ear onto the pummeled and flattened pillow.

It was going to be another long reach down inside to find the ability to raise my head, slide my feet off the edge of the bed to the floor, and stand.

While grasping for something deep down, anything really, I heard Ann and Nick talking in the kitchen. As Ann laughed readily, fully, and completely free of pain or sorrow at something ridiculous Nick must have said, my spirit immediately smiled.

Reflexively an unspoken prayer of gratitude floated through my mind and out the window, into the brightening day.

Closing my eyes again, and feeling the remaining tear squeeze past the damp lashes, I realized that the same tears on my pillow that moments before had been shed in exhaustive sadness, had made room for the quiet happiness.

The same tear, the same moment, the same body.

But I solidly understood that I could cry tears of hurt and of gratitude at the same time.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

For so long I have been unsuccessful in my attempted placement of the two emotions as opponents on a battlefield, always facing each other, feeling that one must be stronger in order to vanquish the other.

But Happy and Sad don’t have to cancel each other out; they can actually exist in harmony – one helping to make a little more sense of the other.

Happiness gently reminds sadness that there is indeed so much good interspersed between the difficult.

Sadness can help keep our perspective grounded a bit as we take time to alleviate another’s suffering.

If we balance it just right, each day has the potential to become a great explosion of beauty and pain and joy and frustration.

fireworksSome fireworks displays will be better than others, but in the end they all bring color and light and warmth.

When we allow Happy and Sad to make room for each other.

 

Winning collectively is determined by choosing individually

A wonderful friend from junior high years made me aware of the following talk by Elder Ronald Rasband:

Three things to do about religious freedom

Please take the time to read his remarks; they present clearly what I have been stumbling over.

I will take the liberty to quote several passages, but will try to be clear in distinguishing his clear message from my rambling thoughts.

He begins:

discussion“Because you are a sophisticated and intelligent audience, I intend to speak to you with the candor your generation craves. I suspect that for some of you the phrase religious freedom feels more like freedom to discriminate. I want to talk to you about this view and help you understand what the Church means when it talks religious freedom and why it is so vitally important for your future and for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

We must deeply value that he is speaking to us as if we are capable of rational thought, and take seriously the responsibility to actually step up to that expectation. Yesterday we may have been able to plead naïve innocence; but to ensure the security of the gospel tomorrow, we no longer have that luxury today.

Continue reading Winning collectively is determined by choosing individually

Choosing which hand to hold

Okay, I think by now it’s pretty obvious that I have some definite opinions on religious liberty and justice for all.

I guess it boils down the simple truth that if we value and want to keep our freedoms, then we must fight for everyone else’s.

To me, that would just take some common sense and reasonable thinking.

clownHowever, judging the current political circus, and the poll numbers showing the mania following it, we have our work cut out for us in finding those who could fit the bill.

I firmly believe that the only way we can be defeated is by our own hand.

To a point, that is why terrorism is so counter intuitive to its supposed objective: those who are attacked tend to unify in defending precisely that which was the terrorist’s target.

I guess if they were smart, they’d just leave us alone and watch us over the next year as we ignite another civil war over who should and shouldn’t be the next president.

We could argue it to be a good thing that they aren’t that smart; sadly, however, neither are we.

Continue reading Choosing which hand to hold