– 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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– One with God is a majority

Encountering opposition from evil forces in this world is actually a sign that we are involved in the true work of the restored gospel. If the world was completely accepting of us we would have to question if we were really engaged in the right work.

The reformer Martin Luther knew what it was like to feel opposition. He was made an outcast by the very church he loved. He must have spent many a lonely day reflecting on the cost he had brought upon himself by speaking his mind and siding with God. He spoke the following words.

“One with God is a majority” – Martin Luther

Luther had printed up a list of his objections to what was then going on in the Roman Catholic Church. He was not questioning its foundational truths, but was calling attention to what he knew were heresies that had crept in. One of the errors he wanted done away with was that of the selling of indulgences by priests. Indulgences were monetary payments of penalty to absolve one of past sins or released one from purgatory after death. Before long, Luther’s writing had been published all over Europe. Luther was summoned to either renounce or reaffirm them at a meeting of church leaders. Luther was asked if he still believed what he had written. After prayer and consultation with friends, Luther stood firm.

“Unless I am convinced by proofs from Scriptures or by plain and clear reasons and arguments, I can and will not retract, for it is neither safe nor wise to do anything against conscience. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen.” – Martin Luther

It is going to become increasingly uncomfortable for some to keep on the “strait and narrow path”. There is however, no compromise worth making on the part of a believing Christian. The Old Testament always refers to God’s people as a “peculiar people”. We stand apart and must be one with Christ even as others mock us and deny God. Be careful about seeking acceptance from the world. Do not give in to false messages in an attempt to be accepted. We are not seeking to win a popularity contest.

For those that are on the fringes wondering if you should speak up and spread the gospel message, I encourage you to step forward in this great cause. Do not be embarrassed when people point fingers at you and shout out labels such as – bigot, unenlightened, elitist, self-righteous or just plain misinformed. It is almost as if a person that speaks out in favor of following the Bible is considered foolish today. People everywhere are standing for all sorts of causes, but heaven forbid someone’s opinions are shaped by the moral and spiritual laws outlined by God in His scriptures!

“All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.” – Thomas Jefferson

“Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” – Romans 12:21

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose…What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8)