Permanence is scary and that’s why Mormons are so chill all the time

Permanence is scary and that’s why Mormons are so chill all the time

Permanence is scary.  The idea that you’ll be trapped in this town, or in this marriage.  Or that if you take that job you’ll probably be stuck in that field for the rest of your life.  Or that things won’t change and you’ll never find a life partner.  If things suck, we don’t want them to stay sucking.

Death is an especially terrifying event.  Once a friend is gone, she’s gone.  Guns are bad because they can make someone permanently disappear with the pull of a trigger.

Unless of course you believe in heaven, and especially in forever families.  Mormons believe that eventually we will all die and be reunited with all our loved ones in heaven.  So really, any mortal separation is only temporary, and while that’s sad, it’s all okay because it’s not permanent.  A child could die by a freak accident and if his parents are Mormon, while I’m sure they will be absolutely devastated, they will also feel a sense of peace about the event because, hey, they’ll see him again one day and get their second chance to raise him in heaven.

With beliefs like this, what’s there to fear in life or death?

For those who don’t share those beliefs, life events carry a lot more weight.  Our decisions and actions and misfortunes can determine the rest of our existence, and the existence of others.  There is no second chance and there is no do over.  If you mess up, you mess up. The fear of the theoretical consequences can be stifling for some, and the paralysis of fear is all too real.

There’s a stereotype with Mormons that they do a lot of things. Accomplish a lot of things. Succeed in said things. I think to succeed requires a certain degree of risk taking. People with fear paralysis tend to be bad at risk taking. People who believe they will always have a second chance have nothing to worry about.

At what point does it matter how the universe actually works, when a belief system continuously produces confident people who are successful?  Which is more important: truth or taking action? As we lay on our death beds (believing we will soon go to heaven or not) what will we prioritize in the life we just lived?  The things we did or the things we believed?

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Why do we have a higher standard for things than we do for ideas?

I’m involved with a group of Young Professionals in my town, and once a month we all watch a Ted talk and then meet for lunch to discuss it.

This month’s was The Way We Think About Work is Broken by Barry Schwartz.

Points I found most intriguing:

“Bad technology disappears. [But] with ideas, false ideas about human beings will not go away if people believe that they’re true.” This implies that we have a higher standard for things than we do for ideas. We care about having the best and optimally-functioning cell phone, yet we don’t really care if there’s any science behind that detox tea we keep drinking.

We have much less attachment to things than we do to ideas. There is a quick turnover with things, but a slow turnover with ideas. We’re quick to exchange our laptop for the newer model. But we maintain ideas for generations and are often hesitant to stray from them and our identity with them.

“It is not true that you “just can’t get good help anymore”. It is true that you can’t get good help anymore when you give people work to do that is demeaning and soulless.”

“Human nature will be changed by the theories we have that are designed to explain and help us understand human beings … We design human nature by designing the institutions within which people live and work.” So, what kind of human nature do you want to help design? Note that this can apply outside the workplace as well.

Points of wisdom from Brene Brown’s Gifts of Imperfection

Points of wisdom from Brene Brown’s Gifts of Imperfection

My book club read The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. Here’s some of my favorite quotes:

Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.

No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough.

Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.

If you need to refuel and losing yourself online is fun and relaxing, then do it. If not, do something deliberately relaxing. Find something inspiring to do rather than something soul-sucking.

Before I start [doing something], I always ask myself, why is this worth doing? What’s the contribution that I’m hoping to make?

Trying to win someone over [who is huffing and puffing] is a mistake because it means trading in your authenticity for approval. You stop believing in your worthiness and start hustling for it.

“Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals.” -Pema Chodron

When we spend a lifetime trying to distance ourselves from the parts of our lives that don’t fit with who we think we’re supposed to be, we stand outside of our story and hustle for our worthiness by constantly performing, perfecting, pleasing, and proving.

What is your default setting in response to shame?  What is your brave option/courage?

We are all made of strength and struggle.

Mindfully practicing authenticity during our most soul-searching struggles is how we invite grace, joy, and gratitude into our lives.

Courage is contagious.

Common humanity recognizes that suffering and feelings of personal inadequacy are part of the shared human experience.

When we numb the painful emotions we also numb the positive emotions.

The ancient Greeks say the opposite of joy is not sadness but fear.

Addressing scarcity doesn’t mean searching for abundance, but rather choosing a mindset of sufficiency.

When we compare, we want to see who or what is best out of a specific collection of “alike things”.

The more entrenched and reactive we are about an issue, the more we need to investigate our responses.

Don’t forget to follow me on Goodreads for book reviews and a look at what I’m reading next.

What to do when you can’t get rid of something (or someone)

What to do when you can’t get rid of something (or someone)

My book club started off the new year with an appropriate book: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book to everyone.  It truly is life-changing. I won’t go into a full review of the book or the ways in which it can save your life, but I do want to focus on one particular idea.

One of the iconic suggestions the author of the book, Marie Kondo, offers is that for every item you thoughtfully consider whether or not it brings you joy.  Does this red sweater bring you joy?  Do these shoes?  Does this vase that your sister in law gave you spark joy in your life or not?  If so, keep it.  If not, get rid of it.  Simple as that.

If something does not spark joy but you have a hard time getting rid of it, ask yourself, “Am I having trouble getting rid of this because of an attachment to the past or because of a fear of the future?” Ask this for everyone of such items.

Look for your ownership pattern because it is an expression of the values that guide your life. Do you tend to have an attachment to the past or a desire for stability in the future, or both?

In recent life reflections, I have realized that this way of thinking can also be applied to people in your life.  Have a relationship that’s on the rocks yet you can’t seem to break away?  Is that because you’re holding on the past of afraid of your future?

Sometimes the rules of decluttering our spaces can be applied to decluttering our personal relationships — and this, too, can be life-changing.

Don’t forget to follow me on Goodreads for book reviews and a look at what I’m reading next.

Make All Your Dreams Come True

Make All Your Dreams Come True

A few months ago I went to my first ever Stake Youth Conference.  It was amazing.  One of the workshops was so profound that it literally changed my life, and I’d like to share it with you.  It was taught by a returned sister missionary (whose name I forget, unfortunately) and it was called Make All Your Dreams Come True.  At first I thought the name sounded a bit floofy if you will, but it turned out to be one of the most practical tips I’ve yet heard.

She started by sharing a quote by C.S. Lewis:

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

-C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

First of all, this quote so beautifully describes the human experience.  Secondly, what a lovely concept that God Himself lives in us.  Thirdly, isn’t it so accurate that we underestimate our potential and forget that it is indeed divine, yet God sees a much more promising future for us?

The sister teaching the lesson’s first suggestion was to pray that Heavenly Father will show you your potential.

Then she drew a large Venn diagram (those two slightly overlapping circles) on the board.  Above the left circle she wrote “What we want” and above the right circle she wrote “What God wants”.  In the middle therefore is what both we and God want.

She had the class offer ideas of what might go in the left circle.  Things that we pray daily for:

  • protection
  • health
  • sleep
  • good grades
  • to feel loved
  • goals
  • college
  • mission

These can be things that we want but aren’t sure if God also wants them for us, or if they are right for us.

Then in the middle area, the class thought both we and God would want for us:

  • keep commandments
  • be Christ-like
  • faith
  • patience

Then she went over to the right circle.  No one could think of things that God would want for us that we wouldn’t also want.  Then she wrote one word on the board: Trials.  For me, that blew my mind.  I guess I hadn’t really thought before that all the “bad” things that happen to me, God actually wants to happen.  All the difficulties, all the tough life lessons, all the sad things, some of which I have overcome and some not.  They have all been wanted for me by my Heavenly Father.

Now just to clarify, God wants trials for us because we learn and grow from them.  He doesn’t want them because He wants to harm us; quite the opposite.

She finished out the list as follows:

  • trials
  • tithing
  • sabbath day holy
  • difficult commandments to follow

Next, as if our minds weren’t blown enough already, she said that the purpose of prayer is alignment.  She motioned pushing the circles together to overlap completely and create a single circle.  The goal of prayer is to align the two circles so they are one.  The only person who has done this, she said, is Christ.

Now if THAT wasn’t enough to change my perspective on existence forever, she continued.

When we ask for things in alignment, she explained, then we are asking things God can actually answer.

For example, if we ask God for something like to never have another trial ever, or to get married right this instant, or to help us achieve a goal that isn’t meant for us, He wont give it to us.  And then how do we feel?  Sometimes confused, sometimes frustrated or angry.

But, if we aren’t sure yet if what we are asking for is something God also wants, then how can we avoid this?

And here’s where she gave us one of the most practical tips I have ever heard:

First, ask God for something.  Then say “but if not” and then ask for an alternative.

So often we ask for things and don’t give a second choice, so to speak.  And if God wont give us what we ask for, it feels like our prayer just went unanswered and we got nothing.  But if we ask for an alternative, God is then able to give us something.

prayer formula of sorts:  1 + “but if not” + 2

examples:

  • “help me to get married, but if not, help me to have faith in Thy plan for me”
  • “help me to get a good night’s sleep tonight, but if not, help me to have patience with my kids tomorrow”
  • “help me to pass my test tomorrow, but if not, help me to understand how I can study better for the next one”

Pray not to have your circumstances changed but that you in your circumstances might be changed.

After this workshop, I immediately put this tip into practice.  I found that it not only comforted me — as I saw that even if I didn’t get what I deemed in the moment to be a necessity, it would be okay because there could be another great outcome besides my original choice — but it also helped broaden my perspective.  It reminded me to trust Heavenly Father’s love for me by remembering that He only chooses things He knows are best.  It helped me realize that my situation wasn’t nearly as dire as I thought, and that everything would work out just fine one way or another.

I am so grateful for that sister missionary and her amazing grasp of the gospel.  I am also so grateful I chose to go to that lecture over another.  I hope you gained as much as I did from this lesson, and that if you did, you choose to pass it along to someone else, too.

Lead, follow, or get out of the way

Lead, follow, or get out of the way

My workplace had a staff development workshop this week. It was led by Jim Bagnola.  He had a lot of great things to say, but here are just a few quick takeaways:

If you think you’re a leader but no one is following, you’re just taking a walk!

Lead, follow, or get out of the way

If you don’t have a good/better idea, follow

“Here’s what you can improve” can be reworded as “here are your opportunities”

How to pronounce התנ״ך (Tanakh in Hebrew)

How to pronounce התנ״ך (Tanakh in Hebrew)

So I started learning Hebrew.

In my excitement I installed an assortment of apps from which to learn and practice.  One of them is the Bible in Hebrew (as it’s ultimately my goal in learning Hebrew to be able to read the Bible in its original language.)  The app is called Hebrew Bible but on my phone it appears as התנ״ך.

As of earlier this afternoon, my Hebrew skills allowed me to sound out ha-ta-na-[something that looks like quotation marks]-kha.  For some odd reason it was driving me absolutely crazy that I didn’t know what those two quotation marks meant.  I had just started learning the letters within the last few days and hadn’t bothered learning all the vowel marks.  Were they two י (yodh)s??  Two “ee” sounds??  Did that turn it into an “ai” then??  So now it’s ha-ta-nai-kha??

After googling “hatanaikha hebrew” and as many spelling variations as I could to no avail, google was finally like, Did you mean: tanakh hebrew?

I hadn’t heard the word “tanakh” before so I checked into it and it turns out it is the canon of the Hebrew Bible.  Fun fact: it is actually an acronym for its three books: the Torah, Nevi’im, and Ketuvim.  I was also able to confirm that somehow התנ״ך is pronounced tanakh.  But what’s with the ה in front?  (Hebrew is read right to left for anyone extremely confused right now.)  And how do the quotation marks make an “ah” sound?  Couldn’t they be done without?

More googling.  “Hebrew quotation marks” and variations thereof eventually led me to this amazing discovery:

The gershayim״⟩, is a Hebrew symbol symbolizing that a sequence of characters is an acronym, and is placed before the last character of the word.

I instantly remembered that fun fact I had discovered earlier and this sentence gave me all the rest I needed to know.

Except there’s still a “ha” in the front!  What is this??  Oh well, I gave up.

A few hours later I was going through some hebrew lessons on youtube and I got to this lesson which answered the remaining question!

Mystery solved!  But gosh, it was difficult to come to this answer.  I imagine there must be other people who decide to learn Hebrew, happen to install the same app, see the title, and are confused.  Only to google it and find nothing.  So, friends, I decided to write the answer here in my very own little corner of the internet.

If you are someone who happened to google this question and came across this blog post, please let me know in the comments!