Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Finding Happiness

I have so many thoughts going through my head, so bare with me..
Over Thanksgiving Break, my mom seemed noticeably happier. She has dealt with a lot these past few months and as if all of that wasn't enough, she recently found out that she has thyroid cancer. I know that she had so much weighing on her and I wouldn't have blamed her for feeling negative or for being unhappy, but like the amazing woman she is, she made a change in her life and I definitely noticed.
When I brought up this change that I saw in her, she started to mention a book called The Power. It talks a lot about giving love and how the universe will bring love back to you if you think happy thoughts. What you give, you receive. And what you think about and who you interact with will set that stage of positivity in your life. At first I wasn't very receptive because, like any teenager, I felt like she was directing all of this towards me, trying to hint that I was doing something wrong in my life and needed to change. However, looking back on it now, I can see that she genuinely just wanted to share this happiness she had found with me. (Anyone else instantly think of missionaries spreading the gospel?) My mom even had to bribe me to take the book home with me to college after the break . But when I started to look at the bigger picture, I realized that it wasn't personal, and I began to read the book. Holy cow am I happy that I did! It has already changed my life.
Let me go back a little in time and explain...
For a while I have felt like I have been stagnate: in life, in relationships, and in the gospel. But I wasn't quite sure what I was doing wrong, or if I was doing anything wrong, and I didn't know how to change. I just couldn't shake the feeling of inadequacy. I would look around at church and in school and see people who were achieving so much and growing constantly in knowledge. I felt average at best. I was never sad, but it had been way too long since I felt overjoyed. I was just content with life. I didn't want to be just content. I wanted to feel overwhelming happiness. 
As time went on, I felt like I was on the right path. I mean, I felt happy and I had a lot going for me: good grades, lots of friends, a good job. Until recently, I realized that I wasn't happy the way I wanted to be happy. I began to just accept that that was what happiness was supposed to feel like. Then I met some amazing people, and I tried harder. I let go of the people who weren't helping me progress (though they weren't pulling me back either). I felt motivated to be a better person and to seek personal revelation through scripture study and institute. I had a desire to grow in knowledge and faith, to be on the same level spiritually as them. I knew that this was a good atmosphere and these were good people. I knew that being around them meant that I could find my overwhelming happiness again.
It slowly grew and grew. But that little extra nudge from my mom really pushed me farther ahead. It has been a week since I started reading The Power. This has been the best week of my entire life. This book has been bringing me to the realization of what true happiness is. I already feel more happiness than I ever have. Most of the time I feel so happy and blessed that I literally feel like my heart is going to burst. I can't keep my happiness in; my cheeks hurt from smiling so much. And it's all because of my mom. So thank you mama bear.
Now, I'm sure you are wondering what is so important in this book that would cause me to feel such complete joy after one week. Well honestly, this book brings up nothing new. It explains everything we have already been taught as we have grown up, but there is something about the way this book explains it that just makes you realize how important it truly is. The Power talks about how you need to realize how great your life really is and you also need to have faith that life (and God) will bring about great things as long as you set your mind to those great things. If you believe that it will happen, then it will. And as long as you keep positivity in your heart, mind, words, and actions, then positivity will come back to you in some form or another. Basically, its like karma. You can receive good karma, or you can receive bad karma. You decide which one you will receive based on your thoughts. If you are judging someone, you are not loving them and your thoughts are negative. When you "vent" to a friend, you are surrounding yourself with negativity and negativity will come right back to bite ya in the bum. But on the other hand, when you verbally compliment someone else, first off, your thoughts are positive and you are showing them love in a very positive way. That means that positivity and love will come back to you.
This week, I have kept that in mind and have been trying desperately to change my ways. When I wake up in the morning, I pray and thank my Heavenly Father for all of my many blessings. As I get ready, I say all that I am thankful for once again out loud and I constantly acknowledge how great my life is and how good God has been to me. At the end I say, "And I know that all will go well in my life." This helps reaffirm to me that I should be happy and positive through out my day.  I have been choosing to look at life in a positive way and everyday I strive to find the good in others and keep good thoughts. It might all sound silly, but in some strange way that I don't quite understand, it really has all worked out for me.
In church on Sunday, it was the first time in months that I went to church and didn't look at the clock to see when church would be over. Not that I didn't want to be there, but I just wasn't being very receptive and I found it hard to be attentive. But on this particular Sunday, I was actively participating in all my classes and I was eager to learn and be taught. This might sound so simple to some, but for me, this was a huge accomplishment; something I had been praying for.
Yesterday, after studying and taking finals in the morning, some friends and I got together to play soccer and take a break from all of the stress. As I was driving to the soccer field on campus, I looked down at my windshield and noticed a piece of paper that I had somehow missed earlier. Assuming it was just some kind of flyer, I picked it up and was surprised to find that it was a beautiful and inspiring note from a stranger. I couldn't help but think of what The Power has taught me about giving love and receiving it back. I mean, what are the chances that I would receive somethings so kind and thoughtful out of the blue?
Finally, today I went to the library at 10 this morning and didn't come home until 3 because I was studying with a friend for a math final that I have on Friday morning. I was staying pretty positive all day, even with the stress and the drained feeling that studying left me with. It has been coming much more easily to me to stay happy because I have started to implement that in my life in a very permanent way. I had invited some friends over for dinner at 5:30 and needed quite a bit of time to get everything cooked and cleaned up. When I arrived home, however, I was pretty tired and was thinking that I would just sit in our beautifully decorated-for-Christmas living room and watch a Christmas movie before I started preparing dinner. As I was doing a quick sweeping job, I noticed that outside our window was an older lady in her yard raking leaves. At first I didn't think much of it, but after a couple of minutes and a few glances her way, I couldn't shake the feeling that I should go and offer her some help. I instantly thought of all the reasons that I shouldn't: how it might be weird or awkward, how she might not really want the help, how I didn't have much time on my hands anyways. Then I watcher her shakily sitting down on her porch with an exhausted look on her face. So, before I knew what I was doing, I had my coat and shoes on, keys in hand, and was walking out the door and across the street. Right as I was coming up to her house, an older man got out of a car that was parked in front of her house. I thought that he might be her husband and felt foolish for offering help since he would most likely take over for her. I had so many chances to walk away and this old lady would have never even known what I had to offer. But I kept on going. I walked straight up to her on the stairs and explained that I had seen her from across the street and was willing to rake her leaves for her if she would accept my help. Without a pause, she gratefully handed me the rake and gave me directions. It turns out that the man I had seen walking up to her house was just dropping off some keys for her husband and was not, in fact, the man who would have raked her leaves for her (and to think that I almost didn't help because I jumped to conclusions). She asked me my name and like most people, she responded by saying how unusual it was to hear of a girl with a name like Daryl. We then spoke of the missions that she has served on with her husband and how her nephew is working on the Chapel being built in Logandale. Small world. At the end, this sweet old lady again expressed her gratitude.  She told me that while she was on her mission in Baltimore, she found out that she had cancer. The entire time she spoke of this, she kept repeating how her faith has helped her through this trial and she has never for one second doubted that the Lord would take care of her. She told me that she has some bad back problems to go along with her cancer and as she was raking, she had to take a break because of them. This strong lady told me that she had been trying to get her grandkids to come over and help, or receive help from any relatives, but everyone was too busy during this Christmas season (how ironic that Christmas can so easily be the time when we choose NOT to serve and provide love & help to others.) She then said something that really amazed me: My lovely neighbor confided in me that she had been sitting on those porch steps, hoping that someone would take time out of their day to help her rake her leaves. I wasn't aware of how much help I had provided her and I didn't even see this as something of real importance. To me it was just raking up leaves. To her, it was another blessing. I was so impressed, not of myself, but of the Lord and his timing. What an amazing gift the gospel is.
I was able to cook dinner right after for my friends and I was so happy to do so. My day was so full of goodness, love, and positivity. The rest of my night I have been sitting here feeling overjoyed and blessed.
 I love my family, my college family (roommates) included. I love the gospel. I love my friends. I love my life.
I am overwhelmingly happy. Finally.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Good Things Are Going to Happen

"Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord."- Psalm 27:14

Yesterday was a terrible day. I got home from work, walked straight into my roommates room, immediately sat on her bed, and sighed. Her reply was, "You are having a bad day too? I think it is a universally crappy day." There might have been a few sympathy tears shed, a whole bunch more sighing, a little more than a little yelling at life, and absolute confusion about the future. I left her room feeling worse than before. Misery loves company, but misery + misery = even more misery. That was the moment I decided that I needed to write this post.
Everyone has "crappy days". Some are worse than others, but none are fun. Sometimes these days turn into weeks, into months, into years. It almost feels like you just can never catch a break, right? And you notice that your hope slips away a little more each day. It almost happens without our even noticing. We tend to blame our situations for taking our hope from us and leaving us feeling worthless, alone, and utterly sad. But the truth is that it is our fault that we feel this way. Because when YOU give up hope, YOU give up your happiness. It is your choice. Once you choose hope, anything is possible.
I choose Hope. 
For a grad present, my sister got me the cutest, most inspiring little book of quotes called Encouraging Thoughts for Women: Hope. I love to read out of this book even when I'm in the best of moods because it is seriously perfection. It isn't a very long book and I frequently read the same quotes over and over again, but I always get something new from the little ink marks. One of my favorite quotes from this book reads:
 "We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love." - Romans 5:3-5
I can have hope for the future because I know that the Lord knows the desires of my heart. I know that what is meant to be will always find a way. A wise man once said, "Hope is putting Faith to work when Doubting might be Easier." This wise man is our loving prophet, Thomas S. Monson. You know what they say: Follow the prophet, he knows the way. This prophet is saying that having hope might not be the easiest, but it will be the most rewarding. I would listen to him if I were you, because he is one amazing man with the sweetest, most selfless soul.

Yeah, yesterday was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. BUT you know what came out of the terrible day? This blog post. And a good read out of my quote book along with an inspiring chapter from the best book ever: The Book Of Mormon. Would you like to know what this chapter just happened to be about on this terrible, no good day? It was actually about becoming a better you.. but I feel like that ties along with hope... SO... if that ain't inspiration right there, I don't know what is.
If you can find at least one good thing in your life during a very bad day, hold onto it and cherish it. Allow that one aspect provide you with hope. Hope in life. Hope in the future. Faith in the Lord. Because if you keep hope alive, it will keep you alive.
As for the "universally crappy day" and the tears shed? Most of the situations my roommate and I talked about aren't completely the end of the world; most can be fixed in some way. And the rest? Well, I'll just be praying extra hard for the next few weeks.. I have hope that all will go well. Good things are going to happen. They always do.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Kindness Begins With Me

Depression surrounds me. It seems like everyone I know and love is suffering through this disease. I find it so heartbreaking, especially when I can't do anything to help because of distance and other factors.  I have never truly had depression myself, but there have been times when I have temporarily felt broken and hopeless. Those were the darkest times.
It is in human nature to want to feel loved, included, and thought of. We desire to be part of something more; something bigger than us. I doubt that anyone has gone through life without feeling alone at one point. In middle school, you find yourself. Or at least you try to. It might take years. You might never truly find yourself (though I hope that everyone will at some point in their life). I think that is what scares us the most. Uncertainty. My Family Life and Human Developments class has been focusing on adolescents and how children truly need security and certainty in their home life. They need fathers and mothers who will teach them, lead them, trust them, and love them. But it isn't only children who need this; adults need to be taught, lead, trusted, and loved too.
It rarely takes very much time to listen. I am talking TRULY listening to someone else. Listen to their stories, whether they be sad or happy. Listen to their cries and complains, even if they might be slightly melodramatic. The situation might seem so small and meaningless to you,  but you better bet that it is completely a big deal to them. Listen without talking, judging, or giving advice because sometimes it is just nice to have someone LISTEN for once. When you give up that time, setting aside those distractions that aren't really all THAT important, it shows how much you care. That act alone can bring a glimmer of hope into another's heart.
Be considerate. Everyone is going through inner struggles. Some are bigger than others, but each are very significant to those who face those struggles. Snide remarks, sarcastic comments, judging glances: Let's get rid of those. Replace them with kind words, thoughtful responses, bright smiles, and loving compliments. You never know who is trapped inside the darkness that has consumed their minds. Look up from the screens, take out your earphones, stop tweeting (sub-tweeting) about other people, and learn to love one another; there is a reason why it is one of God's greatest commandments. Take time to get to know someone you never thought you would ever talk to. Sit by someone who is alone. Include everyone. Be inviting (because truthfully, why should anyone be expected to "invite themselves" to activities?). Seek to strengthen yourself spiritually so you will be more in tune to promptings from the spirit. Pray for those that you think might need a little pick me up. Heck, you can even stop by and bring them a homemade treat. Who wouldn't feel special after that? Speak out loud those compliments that you might be thinking, especially to strangers. Who would it hurt?
 I have seen what depression does; how it works. Depression is scary; it's consuming; it's a daily struggle that doesn't necessarily ever go away. I watch as those I love fight this disease everyday, hoping for at least one moment of happiness to take away the pain. I hear their silent cries for help, but I can only do so much. There is a fine line between helping your loved ones, and getting sucked into the darkness of their depression. BUT there are ways to help, slowly but surely. And a great way to bring light unto the broken-hearted is to share with them the gospel. Even members need to be strengthened spiritually and uplifted through your testimony. Spread His light. Spread YOUR light. because...
"Kindness begins with me."

Thursday, October 23, 2014

It's All About Perspective

"An amazing thing happens when you [are] honest with yourself and start doing what you love, what makes you happy. Your life literally slows down. You stop wishing for the weekend. You stop merely looking forward to special events. You begin to live in each moment and you start feeling like a human being. You just ride the wave that is life with this feeling of contentment and joy. You move fluidly, steadily, calm and grateful. A veil is lifted and a whole new perspective is born." - Unknown

Perspective. It's how you see the world. It changes as you grow and learn and develop new skills. It's how you interact with others; how you react to situations. It's distancing yourself to see things clearly. It depends not only on what you look at, but also on where you look from.

I have some amazing people surrounding me up here in Cedar. I'm talking major spiritual giants. Three of them are my roommates. I really lucked out with these three beautiful girls. One of my roommates, Heather, is a Psychology major just as I am. Lets just say, we have some pretty cool conversations.
The other day, Heather and I were the only two home (Kira and Stephanie hadn't yet come home from fall break). We went to FHE together and after, we went on a nice walk around campus. Our conversation started with our amazement towards nature, continued onto church callings, and somehow went to the subject of perspectives. As psychology majors, we talked about the different ways we analyze situations and people. We spoke of feelings and how we look at the world. As most of our conversations do, we ended up talking about the gospel and our faith.
From the words of Hannah Montana, "Nobody's perfect." LDS members have, for some reason, been held to higher expectations then any other religion lately. Society expects us to be "perfect" and wouldn't we love to be! But that is so unrealistic. We do try to be as "perfect" as we possibly can. We as members strive everyday to "be like Jesus" but most days we fall short and THAT is realistic. I do, however, think that we should never use that as an excuse to stop trying.
We are often called hypocrites for failing to be perfect. Some people are very diligent about saying their prayers, reading their scriptures, and paying tithing but might struggle with attending church every Sunday. Should we really judge them for not being perfect? I guess that is your choice. But those members might find a different perspective about what is "sinning" and what is not. That's the thing about the gospel: You can fully use your agency.
Perspective can also be looked at in a more logical way. Human bodies are amazing. Each one of us was born with a brain that processes concepts so differently. I found a quote today in the lovely world of Pinterest by Edmund Wilson that says, "No two persons ever read the same book." Those few words are so deep. Sometimes I think that we figure that everyone thinks the same as we do. In truth, no one quite thinks exactly the same as we do.

I react to others very subjectively. I change the way I talk and see things depending on who they are. It's not that I change my views or lower my standards, but I try to see the other person's perspective. I learn a lot by doing this and it helps me meet their needs. I see the world in terms of feelings and actions. I find hope, humility, compassion, respect, and consideration to be charming and kind.
 But that's just my perspective.

"When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change." - Wayne Dyer

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


Lately I have been thinking a lot about change.
Isn't it crazy how well we as humans deal with change? We change everyday. Our lives change every second. We could be on one path today and another path tomorrow depending on the choices we make.
College has been a completely new experience for me. I lived the small town life for 18 years in Logandale, Nevada. I knew everyone and everyone knew me. I was related to half the town. Most people in Logandale have known me since I was a baby. They have seen the change that has happened in my life constantly. Then I moved to Cedar City, Utah, a slightly bigger college town, to attend Southern Utah University. I never imagined I would ever come to Cedar. In fact, I remember distinctly saying that I would never attend SUU. It was just too close to my small town (an hour and fourty-five minute drive). However, one day my path changed and I am so grateful that it has.
Everyday as I make my way from school to my apartment and walk underneath the trees with their beautiful changing leaves that lean over old, cracked sidewalks, and the contrast of the purple mountains in the background, I count my blessings. I have so many blessings to count! Although it was never in my plans to attend SUU, I am so incredibly grateful for this path the Lord has lead me onto.
Certain circumstances in my life changed right before I moved up to Cedar. I am not afraid to admit that those circumstances were very hard for me. My life had completely changed once again. Those circumstances left me feeling broken and alone. It didn't help that I really was alone in a new "home" and in a new town. I no longer had my family constantly around me to comfort me through my trials. There were so many moments where I would break down and cry, feeling like someone had literally just smashed all my happiness in seconds. I couldn't breath. I couldn't eat. For short periods I felt happiness and hope, but those feelings would instantly leave me. I prayed more during that first week in Cedar than I ever have in my life.
Eventually, it all got better. I had this chance to start over, to recreate myself, to be a better, more giving person. Someone who could make a change in other peoples lives through small acts. I made it a goal to focus on others and be more aware of those around me. My testimony grew so much. Even though I was hurt and broken, I somehow managed to take a step back and see all of the blessings in my life. It's all about perspective. When I needed it, the Lord sent me comfort through people. I understood what was most important in life: family, friends, and the gospel of Jesus Christ.
This trial I went through? It was probably the best thing that could have happened to me at this point in my life. I needed to get out of my spiritual slump. I think I settled spiritually for a little while. I wasn't doing anything wrong, but I also wasn't trying to do better. I needed to be completely independent and rely on the Lord. I needed to let pride go. I needed to learn patience and find hope. And I have.
I have found true happiness. I found the Lord again. I found myself.
Change is a wonderful thing.