Friday, June 20, 2008

Choose Happiness

In October 2002 Conference, Elder Claudio R. M. Costa of the Seventy told us, “Many people in this world do not understand the difference between fun and happiness. Many try to find happiness by having fun, but the two words have different meanings.”

He continued to say, “Fun is play, pleasure, gaiety, merriment, source of enjoyment, amusement, to behave playfully, playful, often a noisy activity, and teasing. Happiness is contentedness, joy, delight, and satisfaction.”

In the same conference, President James E. Faust told us, “Pleasure is often confused with happiness. Pleasure, unlike happiness, is that which pleases us or gives us gratification. Usually it endures for only a short time. Obviously, there is a great difference between feeling happy at a given moment and being happy for a lifetime, between having a good time and leading a good life.”

After reading these talks, I decided that it wouldn’t do me any good to go on a vacation to find happiness. If I want to be happy, I can find it in my own backyard. A shopping trip, or going out to dinner is not going to do the trick. There is only one thing that will work, and that is if I choose to be happy.

The pursuit of happiness is within my reach. All I have to do is choose it. I know my Heavenly Father desires that I am happy during this life. He wants me to hold out my hand and grasp the gospel teachings available to me. If I choose to obey the commandments, listen to the prophets, and attend the temple, he will take my hand and lead me to happiness.

He offers all of us the great plan of happiness – Alma 42:8 – Now behold, it was not expedient that man should be reclaimed from this temporal death, for that would destroy the great plan of happiness.

Our Father in Heaven sent His Beloved Son to carry out the Atonement so we can be happy in this life and receive a fullness of joy. He gave us the freedom to choose and learn, and respects our freedom and independence. I know He will not force us to accept this joy. Satan wishes to deny us our independence and agency, and he opposes the freedom of choice offered by our Father. We have to choose happiness. It is not something that someone else can decide for us.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

My Destiny

There are many things that are important in my life. Among them is my church. I attend regularly and do many things to help those around me. I’m sure it’s not enough. My parents taught me the difference between right and wrong so I know what I should do, and if I goof up I have no one to blame but myself. I’m responsible for my own destiny.

It’s my fault if I don’t do service as often as I should, or if I’m a bad example to people. Often times I hide in my computer room and forget all about the world around me. Someday I may have to answer to my maker about my choices.

The one thing I hope I never do is drive someone away from my church by the things I do, and I don’t want the actions of other people to push me away from the things I know to be true. People don’t always treat others the way they should. Sometimes they say hurtful things or act rudely towards others. My skin has grown tough over the years, and most of the time I let those unkind things slide away.

I’m sure most people aren’t cruel and spiteful on purpose. Today I want to encourage others to look the other way and ignore the insensitive things said to you. Rise above the cutting remarks and act as the Savior would.

If the hurt won’t go away, you need to talk to the person who offended you. I did that last week, and the entire problem turned out to be a misunderstanding. She honestly didn’t know she had offended me. If I had let it go, and refused to talk with her about it, I think I’d have been upset for a long time. Instead, because I gathered the courage to call her, I won’t carry that burden any longer.

Don’t think calling her was easy, because it wasn’t. It took three days for me to pick up the telephone to call. She was surprised to hear from me, and even more amazed to discover she had offended me by her actions. Of course, since she was unaware I was the only one suffering. It’s great to have such a burden lifted.

My advice to anyone reading is to stand up for what you know, but don’t carry unnecessary burdens.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Successful 6/7/8 Conference

Last Saturday I attended a writing conference at Cedar Fort that gave nourishment to my mind. Never have I been as well fed as I was that day. To me, it was a feast unlike any I’ve ever attended before.

Don’t get me wrong – all the writer’s conferences I’ve attended the past four years have been good, and I’ve received lots of excellent information. It’s just that this time most of the topics were new to me.

Doug Johnston started out telling us that as writers we should focus on our audience and try to reach them. He then turned the time over to our next speaker, Abel Keogh, who told us five reasons why a writer needs a website. He convinced me and soon you’ll see mine up and running.

Our next speaker was Janet Kay Jensen who encouraged self-promotion. She told us we all need a Media Kit to send out with our books, and explained the type of supplies we should include.

Next, Doug Johnston asked, “What is a publicist?” He explained they generate and manage publicity for a public figure. The best publicity is free, and we can all be our own publicist.

In the afternoon, we had an impressive guest speaker, Eloise Owens. She started out by asking us to list the qualities of a great writer. It was determined that the top trait was the ability to self manage everything. I enjoyed the afternoon and it flew by much too fast. The ending remarks will remain with me for a long time. We are writers and we have many opportunities to move people.

I could give you my notes or tell you more about what I learned, but there is nothing like hearing it first hand. Nothing I write will inspire you as much as listening with your own ears. It was a good conference, and I’m glad I went.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Why Am I Here?

The plan was for me to leave heaven and come to earth. Did I want to come? Yes, I anticipated the time when I could leave the spirit world to come to earth and have a body. I learned that I could discover through personal experience the lessons that would bring me happiness here on earth, and lead me to exaltation and eternal life.

Of course, it wasn’t supposed to be easy. Challenges were sure to come because of the evil influences that would be on the earth. It didn’t matter to me I was excited to begin a new adventure.

Lucky me, I started out in the best place. I was born to parents that married in the temple. They loved me and taught me about the true church on earth, and the reason why I was here and what I needed to do to return to live with my Father in Heaven again. I learned to seek Him in prayer because He would give me comfort, peace, and guide me in my decisions. Sometimes I’m dumb and don’t always consult Him in all I do.

With my prior memory erased, I have to live by faith, but I still make mistakes unless I listen to the still small voice, or His appointed prophets. They teach me about finding the joy that comes through doing the will of my Heavenly Father.

I know that it is not enough to believe in Jesus Christ. I must work and learn, search and pray, repent and improve, know His laws and live them. If I do these things, I will find peace, happiness, and everlasting life. This is the purpose of life. It is His plan.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A friend recently said she thought I should have become an archaeologist, but after some thought I disagree. My passion is studying the past, particularly the written record. I love stories that pass down from one generation to another. The career I should have chosen is historian. Digging up bones, and studying about them doesn't pique my interest.

I notice that the word history comes from the Greek, and means learning by inquiry, to examine, to observe, to inquire. "Academically, history is the field of research producing a continuous narrative and a systematic analysis of past events of importance to the human race." Doesn't that sound fun.

I might enjoy ethnography which studies groups through direct contact with the culture. For a high school English paper I studied different forms of marriage. It must have touched my soul because since that time these types of studies interest me.

I could be wrong because in doing research it says that historical archaeology is the study of cultures with some form of writing. I did like wandering in medieval villages while I was in England. I just don't want to dig them up. Several times I've visited sites where students were out in the hot sun digging with little spoons.

History and prehistory might be an area I would like to investiage. Recovering knowledge of the past in an area where there is no written record would make me stand up and take notice. I've always believed that history begins with the handing down of traditions. We should carry on habits and lessons of the past into our future.

I actually think since I'm not a new kid on the block, and my career days are almost behind me I'll just concentrate on being a writer, but exploring the possibilities was fun.