Sunday, September 12, 2010

Self Improvement--Inspired by President Samuelson

I haven't worked out in almost 2 months.  This whole week I felt nasty inside, and I kept having what women call "fat days."  Even if you're not any bigger than you were the day before, you wake up that morning and feel like you just ate 5 extra large pizzas by yourself the night before.  Since I can't really afford a gym membership at the moment, my husband and I went to the campus gym.  I ran on the elliptical, and Matt shocked the men sitting next to him by how much weight he could lift without breaking a sweat.  OK, so he broke a sweat.  But still, that's my man!  One thing that I've noticed that he does is when he works out is he brings a little notebook with him to record his progress.  That way, he can always know where he was before, and where he wants to be.  I also happened to be listening to a BYU devotional on podcast on my ipod while I was exercising.  This really made me reflect on self-improvement and how to make it more effective and still staying happy.

The specific devotional that I was listening to was President Samuelson's address for what I believe was the beginning of the 2009-2010 school year.  I remember the talk when I was in the Marriot Center that day, but listening to it again really made me think more.  He spoke about the future, and the difference between the things we can't control and the things that we can.  He talked about how there are always those who seem to get better grades than us without having to work as hard.  There always seem to be those people who can just eat as much as they want and whatever they want without gaining any weight.  And don't forget those people who just seem to get asked out on dates all the time, even if they aren't the nicest people.  We can't control that.  We also can't really forsee what the economy is going to be like, and if we'll be rich and/or famous one day. 

What we CAN control is our relationships, he says.  He talks about our relationship with our Heavenly Father.  The ball is in our park.  We can control how much we talk to Him and how much we serve Him by serving our fellow men.  We can even control how much we think about Him.  Sometimes, as I've discovered, it is difficult.  Sometimes it feels like Heavenly Father leaves us for a little while, so that we can grow through suffering.  Think about the Savior.  In the Garden of Gethsemane, the Lord left Jesus so that He could suffer.  And suffer He did. In order to fill His divine role, He had to be alone.  Not to compare ourselves to the Savior at all, but the Lord does sometimes leave us for periods of time, mostly due to our stupid decisions and mistakes.  But also to help us feel sorrow so that we can appreciate joy.  Think about it.  How could you really appreciate someone for being dependable, if you haven't experienced being stood up?

Samuelson also spoke of improving our relationships with our loved ones.  One thing that really struck me was the emphasis on checking in with your folks when you don't need money for something.  I would encourage you, if you can, to keep correspondence with those you love, especially those that serve you.  

Lastly, President Samuelson talked about improving your relationship with yourself.  Being honest with yourself is so important for self-improvement.  For instance, when I practice, and I mark my millions of tally marks in my notebook for how many times I played something without mistakes, I can't make one mistake and mark it.  The only person that is suffering from that is me.  Also, cheating your way through school is another example.  Sure, you might get an "A" on that one test.  But think about it.  Why are you in college?  Last time I checked, it was because you wanted to be trained in a specific trade.  You wanted to make yourself marketable to a specific genre of company and profession.  Just like any skill, you can't go from point "A" to point "X."  You have to take it one step at a time, and learn things at the pace that your mind can comprehend.  If you cheat yourself, nobody else is going to suffer besides you.  It's like leaving out the yeast in a bread mixture.  It just won't work.  Eventually, everyone will know that you left out the yeast.  No busniness is going to hire you if you can't do the essentials that you spent SO much time and money learning how to do.  The business that you want to work for is not going to care if you can't do it.  They just won't hire you.  Or, if you squeak by on the interviews, you will eventually be found out, and most likely replaced by some other hard-worker that didn't cheat it college.  The skills that I am referring are those of a necessary nature for your specific trade.  It could be anything.  Musical scales, basic algebra, and even learning how to read.  There are so many hard working people in this world.  Driven, hard working people.  The job market is competitive.  If you have a dream to attain something, realize that you're probably not the only one who has that dream.  If you're honest with yourself, and keep the Lord in your life, and work as hard as you can, chances are you have a great shot.

One thing that I think everyone needs to learn is how to really love oneself.  I know plenty of people who on the outside would seem like the most confident individuals.  Their lives are so perfect.  They don't have any insecurities...why should they?  They have everything they need!  And still I hear about deep rooted sadness.  I even see it sometimes, in people who in my mind, have it all!  I don't think this is ingratitude.  I've had times in my life where I feel that way.  I think it is just losing sight of the fact that you really are pretty freakin' awesome.  In order to love other people, the Lord, and the blessings that are brought to you, you have to learn to love yourself first.  Remember the Savior.  Think about what He paid for you.  Think about what you enjoy doing, just because it makes you happy.  Make a little time for that in your crazy schedule every now and then.  After exercising yesterday with my husband, I am filled with great joy.  It wasn't even a super intensive workout.  But it made me happy.  After you start looking in the mirror and thinking, "I really am a great person," start directing your joy towards others through service.  There is nothing like serving someone when you already have that self-confidence inside of you.  It feels SO much better.  That way, there can be no resentment in your heart.  You are serving because you want to; because it feels good.  However, I really don't think that anyone can serve effectively without loving oneself first.

I know it's not that easy.  If you're anything like me, you'll understand that when I do anything wrong or even not perfectly, sometimes I am overcome with guilt.  I can't seem to focus on the things that I've ever done good in my life...just on the flaws.  Forgiving oneself is essential to progression!  However, all of you musicians know that in order to improve a piece of music, you have to zone in on your "trouble spots."  But this needs to be treated delicately.  If it starts to wander into emphasizing your flaws in character, then you need to back up and think about what's really important.  This has been my constant struggle.  But I really do feel like I'm getting better.

Anyway, enough of my babbling.  These are just my thoughts in response to the devotional.  Thanks for reading. 

Au revoir!

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