Every couple of months I have to go back and review my "recipe for happiness." It is one of those things that I just have to remind myself of so I can keep myself ... well ... happy. And the beauty of it is that I know I can be happy if I follow it no matter what curve balls life may throw at me. It has shown me that I can be in control of my own happiness even through incredibly sorrowful circumstances.
So I thought I would review it here again --for myself, and for anyone else feeling in a bit of funk and needing the review. This recipe comes from Luke 2:52. It is the one verse that tells what Jesus did between the ages of 12 and 33 when he started His ministry. I am no longer a child but I am no where near where He was at 33 so I guess I should be following His example from this verse. "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man."
1) Jesus increased in wisdom. I need to learn something new everyday. I can do this by reading something new, creating something new, learning a new word. This is an easy one of those in school or working in a job where you use your brain. It is harder for us stay at home moms. I have not been doing so well at this one. How about all you out there? Do you have a way to use your brain everyday? For those of you who struggle with this here is a little help for today. Webster's word of the day for today is conn \KAHN\ verb-- it means: to conduct or direct the steering of (as a ship). The captain conned his ship through the icy waters. There -- go use that word somehow today and you can check off this part of the recipe.
2) Jesus increased in stature. Okay I may not be growing anymore (hopefully) but I can do something physical to maintain or improve my physical health everyday. This is another hard one for me. But it doesn't have to be a huge work out. Really to get the mental health benefits from working out I have found that all I need to do is exercise till I have worked up a good sweat. That will start the endorphins going and make me feel better. If I am feeling fat, it will make me feel like I am doing something about it - no matter what the scale says. If I am feeling sad, it makes me feel more cheerful. If I am frustrated, it makes me feel in control. I know for sure that if I am grumpy this is a sure way to make me in a better mood. Tonight I played Just Dance on the Wii with my kids -- 5 songs in a row. I worked up the sweat and had a good time doing it.
3) Jesus increased in favor with God. This one is easy. Read scriptures everyday and earnestly pray everyday. This isn't just a going through the motions thing. I really have to try to connect with the Lord when I pray to make this happen. When I do this I can feel the Lord's love for me and that calms the storms the world would throw at me. In reading scriptures, I read until I feel some inspiration or until I learn something or am reminded of something. I mentioned my bishop challenged us to read 10 pages a day. I have been doing this most days (I didn't do so well on our vacation) and I have been surprised to find that I ALWAYS find some inspiration as I am reading when I read that amount. Before when I just read a page or a chapter I some days did and some days didn't. I have enjoyed my daily inspiration from this hefty challenge. Bottom line is that you can't be truly happy without feeling connected spiritually and these are the keys to staying connected. I read my 10 pages this morning and felt the power of how one evil man can influence so many for ill. Look up the history of Amalickiah in Book of Mormon if you want to see one seriously evil, cunning, and influential man. And tonight I am praying especially hard for a few family I have heard of whose children recently drowned and for my Miamaids. It isn't easy being a teenage girl.
4) Jesus increased in favor with man. We are created to need other people. Women especially, I think, need other women. So the goal with this is to do something nice for someone else everyday. I would add also to do something "social" everyday. As a stay at home mother, we serve others (our families) all day. That is not hard. But to really feel the joy of service sometimes we have to step outside our normal "job" of serving our family and do something more. So I think calling a friend, or watching someone's kids for them, or going out to a play date, or sitting out in the street chatting with neighbors counts for this. Be friendly - serve others - think outside the self. This reminds me of advice a good friend of mine gave me from his mission in a letter. It was that the key to happiness is work. Like Gordon B. Hinckley's dad wrote to him on his mission, "Forget yourself and go to work." That is HUGE in being happy. When we think of and serve others, we often see how blessed we are in so many ways and then can find the gratitude that is SOOOO essential for being happy. Everyone living in America (and pretty much every other 1st world country) should consider themselves HUGELY blessed. Even the poorest of the poor here in terrible family or other living situations have it so much better than SO many people in developing nations around the world where dictators or guerilla armies rule brutally. We just too often find it too easy to compare ourselves with our neighbors or friends and focus on the things we don't have. I am so much happier when I focus on the children I do get to raise right now instead of dwelling on the one I must wait to raise. Today I served my family, I talked to a few friends on the phone, and I went to mutual and had fun talking to the girls and the other ladies.
Thanks for sticking with me through my review. I need it every couple months. I have been feeling fairly good but this "just after the anniversary" time when it is summer and other families are joining our club, well I just need to keep working the recipe to keep my spirits up.