Recently I was out visiting some women as a Relief Society Presidency. I love making visits because the Spirit continues to testify to me of the greatness of the women I'm surrounded with. Making visits helps me to love them more, understand them and appreciate them. One sister we were visiting said that she has always been a person who finds that the glass is half empty. She said she has had to fight this negative thinking every day of her life.
This statement started me thinking. I used to be a person who viewed life as a glass half empty, but I don't generally now. What happened? When did it happen? How did it happen? Somewhere along the way I stopped being a pessimist. Many people tend to view life in a negative way. If you do and would like to see how I changed some of my attitudes then reader, read on...
*Please note: In saying that the glass is half full it is suggesting that a person view's life and life's experiences in a positive way. Viewing life with a half empty glass is attributed to looking at life and life's experiences in a negative way. Here is a short article on this idiom. Another. And one more.
These thoughts came:
1. For me living with a glass half empty was part of my natural man, or our 'earthly man' as President Kimball taught us. He said, "The 'natural man' is the 'earthly man' who has allowed rude animal passions to overshadow his spiritual inclination." So living with a glass half empty or being a negative person is kind of the way I naturally want to go. But of course we can overcome the natural man. The natural man dwells in negatives, but God is about positives.
2. Living with a glass half empty is also a sign of fear. I used to think nothing good would ever happen. Nothing good could possibly come out an uncomfortable situation. I tended to assume the victim role, the whinny role and will everyone please notice me role. All signs of fear. If I'm living in fear and not with faith then I need to repent.
3. Perhaps living life with a good and happy attitude is a gift of the spirit. I know I say everything good and positive is a gift of the spirit. Maybe it is and maybe it isn't. I know this though: all good things come from God. So in a way they are gifts. Call it what you may. I also know that if we ask for a gift and it's a good gift the Father will give it too us. (D & C 88: 63-64) We are all born with a couple specific gifts. I think of them as freebies that we get to keep as long as we stay worthy. The rest we have to work for. But, we can claim them. Some of us may be born with an innate sense of worth, a happy cheery heart, the ability to be a peace maker, a heart of gold, a strong testimony, etc. We all have our freebies. Just because some of us might not be the glass is half full kind of girl doesn't mean we can't become one.
Okay, so this is what I try to do everyday:
1. Praise God. Everyday I need to thank Him for His blessings. I try to notice all the wonderful blessings God has given me. We are all so blessed. Sometimes I make lists. Sometimes I write them down in my journal. Some people write them on their blogs. Whatever. I try to notice my blessings and express gratitude for them. Doing so has changed my life!!!! The Lord teaches us:
"And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea more."2. Serve Others. Talk to people in the store. Say hi to people. Notice people. Visit a widow. Make cookies for FHE and then share half with the neighbor. Call our visiting teaching sisters even if you have already "seen" them for the month. Do some indexing. Send a happy text to a friend out of the blue telling them how much we appreciate them and we hope they are having a great day. Make our child's bed. Just once. Just because. The point is to stop thinking about myself. The more negative I feel myself getting in a day the more I realize that I've just been thinking about myself. I perceive my problems as great. But the moment I focus outward is the moment I realize I'm okay because the Spirit comes. The Spirit brings peace to my heart and I know God is taking care of me. My problems aren't that bad. Trust. Smile. Breath. Think of the big picture.
It's in those service moments I'm also reminded, "oh yeah, I came to earth to be tested." God's not punishing me. He's helping me strengthen my heart and my testimony. Where is my heart? Am I God-centered? Or am I me-centered? If I'm God-centered then I'm progressing and coming closer to my heavenly home.
3. Change my thoughts. I wrote all about that here. This past week something happened to someone else that made me a little CraZy. Mainly I was just irritated about the situation. It came down to the fact that I kept replaying the situation over and over in my head. Basically I was judging someone over and over. I kept thinking, "really, that's how we act now?" It was on replay. Finally after a day or do I snapped out of it and said, "enough!" I prayed, repented of judging them and some other bad thoughts, and spend the rest of the week rejecting Satan's attempts to keep me thinking about it. It's been tough. But I have to reject the lies and quote the truth. My natural man so wants to dwell on it. Grrr.
4. Repent. Yeah, I always come back to this one don't I? I think the gift of the atonement is the most amazing thing ever. Repenting doesn't mean we were bad, are bad or are forever to be bad. Repenting means, "Hurray, I'm coming closer to the Savior today because I've recognized some sins and I'm changing them with Christ." Elder Bednar said,
"Every appetite, desire, propensity, and impulse of the natural man may be overcome by and through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We are here on the earth to develop godlike qualities and to bridle all of the passions of the flesh."(Love the absolutes in that statement). So yes, we are natural men and women with a propensity to sin and feel sorry for ourselves, but through the Atonement of Jesus Christ we can overcome all those propensities. How sweet is that?
I believe absolutely that any weakness we have, like looking at life believing that the glass is half empty, is something we can change. As I have overcome this weakness my life as changed so much. I feel freer, happier, my faith is stronger... Life just becomes that much more awesome.
What ideas would you add that have made your life a 'glass half full' one?