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.