On My Mind: Considering the Side Effects

If you are anything like me, you are constantly considering ways to improve your life. What will make me more organized? What will help me get up earlier in the morning? What will help motivate me to eat better and exercise more regularly? What will make me happier? What will bring greater peace and solitude into my life?

Again, if you are anything like me, it can be overwhelming to consider where to begin on the list of improvements, especially if you are far from perfect (like me!). How do you decide which quality will be first on your “to-do list”  of things to graft into your thoughts and actions?

May I suggest looking at various qualities and considering the “side effects” or tangible benefits of a trait. Oftentimes when I see such a list, I am even more convinced that a particular trait is exactly what I need (or don’t need) in my life right now. This convincing helps gets me to right to work.

Here are 4 lists of “side effects” which correspond to particular traits. As you read them, see if you can identify the trait…

List A
increases optimism
increases vitality
increases happiness
increases a sense of well-being
greater satisfaction with life
more positive memories
more empathetic and supportive
more forgiving
more likely to assist others
less envious

List B
binds hearts and minds in suffocating darkness
drains from us all that is vibrant and joyful
leaves behind the empty remnants of what life was meant to be
kills ambition
advances sickness
pollutes the soul
deadens the heart
like a staircase that leads only and forever downward

List C
like the beam of sunlight
pierces the darkness with a brilliant dawn
encourages and inspires us to place our trust in the loving care of an eternal Heavenly Father

List D
awakens and enlivens spiritual senses
breathes life into our souls
encourages sensitivity to the Spirit
enlightens our minds
quickens our spiritual pulse
hearts are touched

List E
destroys peaces
breaks hearts
separates us from God

Can you guess what each list is describing? Let me reveal…

List A: Gratitude
Vaughn E. Worthen, “The Value of Experiencing and Expressing Gratitude,” Ensign, Mar 2010, 44–49

List B: Despair
Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “The Infinite Power of Hope,” Ensign, Nov 2008, 21–24

List C: Hope
Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “The Infinite Power of Hope,” Ensign, Nov 2008, 21–24

List D: Faith
David S. Baxter, “Faith, Service, Constancy,” Ensign, Nov 2006, 13–15

List E: Bitterness
Bruce C. Hafen, “Beauty for Ashes: The Atonement of Jesus Christ,” Liahona, Apr 1997, 39

This month, I’m going to throw list B and E in the trash and welcome List A, C, and D into every day. How about you?


5 August 2010


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