- The Five Relationships

1029949_10871057Your life has four important relationships. These are – with God, with self, with others and with things. Each can be in varying degrees of health or toxicity. Healthy relationship are positive, supportive, fruitful, harmonious, nurturing, encouraging, happy, truthful and dozens of other like words used to describe it. Think of each of these words in relation to each of your four relationship types and ponder how you are doing.

The four relationship types are now presented in the order in which you must accomplish them. You cannot have the later ones working properly until you have the ones that precede them functioning in harmony.

1. Relationship with God:

“Thou shalt love the Lord, thy God, with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy mind…This is the first and great commandment.” – Matthew 22:37

Our relationship with God is based on faith and obedience out of love. We are His children and as our perfect parent, He lovingly guides us and waits for us to return home. He first loved us and we are His to keep and are destined for greatness. The most perfect devotion and worship that we can manage in this life is what we strive for with everything we have.

2. Relationship with self:

You first need to be healed and heading on the right path to be able to utilize your full strength. We cannot share that which we do not first possess. Refer back to part one for ideas on how to get the best possible self-image. If you have “Relationship with God” healthy, you should naturally have a better understanding of who you are and of your worth. Take time to ponder who you are and decide what you want to accept and what you want to change. Be happy from now on for whatever stage you are at in life. Life is a journey of learning and improvement.

3. Relationship with others:

“And the second [commandment] is like it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” – Matthew 22:39

No real healthy person wants to be alone all of the time. We thrive in environments of collaboration and love. At the end of your life you will not want to talk about the great business deals, worldly accomplishments or any other earthly treasures you have amassed; you will want to be with your friends and family members and talk about those moments you shared. The best relationships are between two independent and healthy individuals that come together in a mutually beneficial bond of love.

Ways to improve your relationships with other people:

  1. If you find a relationship is not working right, first look at yourself and your behavior. Don’t assume it is the other persons fault. Even if it is you can’t change their feelings, only your own.
  2. Don’t criticize or complain about anyone.
  3. Express appreciation to others. Be generous with your praise.
  4. Show a genuine interest and get people to talk about themselves and find out what their interests are.
  5. Smile and project a positive attitude.
  6. Convince a person first that you are their true friend before expecting any relationship to be of a two-way nature.

4. Relationship with things:

You must learn to live within the monetary means that you have and never covet that of another. It is alright to enjoy material possessions, but they must never rule over you and consume your life.

Questions to ponder:

  1. How would you rate the health of each of your four relationship categories?
  2. What one relationship with another person would you like to see more harmonious and what will you do to take the first step?
  3. Can you really go a complete week without any complaining or criticizing?
  4. What praise and encouragement can you go give someone right now?

- Living a Happier Life: Self-Image

1044093_89152896Your self-image is the mental and emotional picture you hold of yourself – your capabilities, and what you represent.

People limit themselves when they say or think things like – “I am not good enough, too fat, not capable, not wanted…” Ignorance, fear, doubt and uncertainty are all tools of Satan to get us to feel poorly. Every negative or positive image you have about yourself will affect what happens to you throughout the day. Every outward action is first an inward thought. If you have internal positive emotions of love, courage, respect, faith and confidence it will bolster you and propel you to greatness. Believe it or not, a great deal of your health, wealth and happiness are reflections of your inward thoughts.

Your self-image is partly a product of your environment. How you were raised, and what others told you about yourself gets deeply engrained in your brain. However, no matter what it is, it can be rearranged in your mind to be constructive. The destructive thought can be replaced with positive self-image thoughts.

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- Boasting not allowed

Christ did not walk around in his ministry in a prideful and dominating way, but did so as a humble servant. He even grew from grace to grace in truth and power until he received a fullness of the Father (D&C 93:12). The scriptures say that through small and simple means are great things brought to pass. Mighty men such as Enoch, Abraham and our modern apostles and prophets are not arrogant and prideful. They are in their calling because of their humble service and bearing of difficult trials.

“Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers. For my Spirit is sent forth into the world to enlighten the humble and contrite, and to the condemnation of the ungodly.” – (D&C  136:32,33)

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- The art of listening

If you ask someone what the essential elements of good communication are, you might be surprised how many would not even think to mention the importance of being a good listener. Yet, in a two-way conversation, it is so vital to be able to control yourself and not interrupt the other person when they are speaking. More importantly, you must be able to focus outside yourself and understand the other person.

We are all too often only interested in making our own ideas and opinions known. Instead of listening, we are only thinking about what we want to say next. Developing good listening skills takes practice and is something that few people take the time to really master. No skill can show your sincerity as much as that of being a real intense listener.

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- Following a Religious Tradition or living a Spiritual Experience

Statistics show that there is a departure happening from Christian denominations. Many people do not find it practical anymore to keep living a religious tradition that they were brought up under. It is hard for people today to accept authority over what they feel should be a more personal experience. It may thus be that people no longer want to think of themselves as religious in the traditional sense, but as more of a person that believes in God and desires a spiritual connection to Him. In her book titled “Christianity after religion”, Diana Bass explains this trend and what it means. Starting on page 76, Diana outlines five events of what she calls the “Horrible Decade” that led many to turn away from religion.

  1. The September 11 terrorist attacks.
  2. The Roman Catholic sex abuse scandal.
  3. The Protestant conflict over homosexuality.
  4. The religious Right political involvement.
  5. The great religious recession of 2007.

“All three of America’s great Christian traditions – Catholic, mainline Protestant, and evangelical have bungled the faith pretty badly in the last decade…” – Diana Bass

What will it take to cause a great awakening to happen that Diana Bass is calling for in her book? The answer is that there needs to be real individual conversion.

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- America needs a Declaration of Dependence

America is trudging through an economic crisis as is most of the world. Our government has lived beyond its means and we have a national debt that we can no longer pretend will just evaporate on its own. This week we reached $16 trillion in government debt and we have no idea how far it will grow or how to stop it. Think about all the wasted money that goes towards paying the interest on that debt each year. It is estimated that the US will pay $5 Trillion in interest on that debt over the next decade. Debt never sleeps, it just eats away at our prosperity and drains all possibility of actually getting ahead and being a great nation again. It was an alarming sign when the special debt commission Obama put together came back and said they had failed to come up with any solutions that could be agreed upon to solving the crisis. Federal chairman Ben Bernanke can try all he likes to postpone the fall, but it will only come harder as we play more games that only ensure collapse.

Alongside the debt, we are facing many other economic distresses in our country. We have had higher unemployment than we have seen in a long time. Inflation such as with gas prices can really set a person back. Wage deflation is happening as companies fire and replace workers with cheaper labor. A lot of people are under water with their mortgages. Many people are fearful about losing their jobs. Students graduating from college can’t get jobs.

We heard from the Republicans at their convention where they actually had the real-time debt clock ticking away for all to see. They said they will take hard measures to get spending under control and reach a balanced budget. The Democrats hold their convention this week and are sure to be full of promises. Do we really trust our politicians to get us out of this mess? Even if you have one or two in office that really do know what is necessary to do, we really have no hope for getting anything done because of the way Washington breaks down along party lines. Politicians in Washington refuse to ever cooperate to solve the problems together.

I propose we take a step back and really think about how we as a country got off track in the first place and face what is fundamentally going wrong that is pushing our country to the brink of collapse. Our country is falling apart for one reason and one reason only. The real reason for our demise is our turning away from God. We have sinned as a nation and need to turn to God for forgiveness and help. In doing that we can gain the blessings of God and become a great nation again. We cannot fix our countries debt and financial crisis by Wall Street wizardry, White House bail outs, congressional oversight committees, mere spending cuts or higher taxation.

The key to prosperity comes from keeping God’s commandments and worshiping Him. That is the only way we will ever turn around the economic crisis we are in. America has had a Declaration of Independence, and we now need a Declaration of Dependence. Dependence on God. George Washington said it was in vain for us to hope for prosperity as a nation if we left out religion and morality.

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens.” – George Washington

In the Bible when Jonah was preaching to the city of Nineveh he told them of their impending destruction. Johan 3:5 tells us “So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.”. God’s mercy came to them and they were spared. We in America are under a special charge as revealed in the Book of Mormon.

Inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land; but inasmuch as ye will not keep my commandments ye shall be cut off from my presence.” - 2 Nephi 1:20

We find rampant a worldliness that leads masses to idolize the indecent and seek for riches and self-destruction. We can pack stadiums with tens of thousands of fans and have millions watch on TV our idolized athletic heroes, and yet find just a handful of people to attended a church worship service or render relief to the needy of the nation. America is ripe in iniquity. Today we have faithlessness, mocking of God, immorality, dishonesty, pride and greed. Our only hope for being saved from destruction is to have government and the citizens of America seeking to repent and find every commandment that we are breaking and stop and start keep the them. Bring back the open dependence on God in prayer for his saving us through sending His son Jesus Christ into the world as a sacrifice. This is the only sure budgetary plan that this country should be considering in this crucial hour.

- Ending the Me Generation

Some have labeled this generation as the “Me Generation”. Think about what is going on! Everyone has their Facebook account that is all about themselves; a self-promoting site for an individual to show off to the entire world. Many people have a blog or put something up on YouTube to let the world know what they are up to. Then there is the endless dribble of tweets to consider. When 16,000 college students were asked what their top goal was, 80 percent said “getting rich” and 4 percent said “getting more spiritual”. Trends from this study are also showing that relationships are getting shorter. Perhaps the relationship was not enough about them and they just could not give of themselves to another person. With our busy high-tech lifestyles, it seems we have little patience and understanding of others. It is time to move on from the “Me Generation” and end all of this instant gratification and selfishness.

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