Sunday, December 7, 2008

How To Be Miserable

This was a great lesson I heard at church today. I just loved it. It made me really think about what a wonderful life I have regardless of all the difficulties I'm going through. Christmas time in general has become increasingly excessive. The shopping, the decorating, the eating. It seems like we're just not satisfied unless it's even more lavish and grand than the previous year. This holds true for my own family. After realizing just how much this applies to us, I just don't like the idea of my kids (or me and my husband for that matter) getting too comfortable with having "things". 

I was laid off from a job I truly, truly loved about 6 months ago. My husband and I agreed that I would be the breadwinner until he was through school. I wasn't too worried about getting another job and just starting over as a warehouse grunt or a temp from an agency. There was always a need somewhere nearby, however, soon the economy crumbled and along with it the job market. Now, my searches for jobs have been turning up nothing more than "opportunities" in Asbestos Removal or Pipe Welding, which I would gratefully try for but they are in cities approximately 3 to 4 hours away from me and I only drive my car long distances when it is absolutely necessary because it will be literally dying on me any day now... poor little Bessie. 

I could be miserable and complain about not having a job, or I could be miserable and worry myself into physical illness. I could spend the days crying "why me" and look for pity. Those are some "choices" I could make, but I can also choose to enjoy this time with my children. I can choose to say, "Yeah, our Christmas is gonna be very small, but off the top of my head I can think of LOTS of other people whose situations are FAR more tragic than mine." (... and far more deserving of God's blessings!) There is always someone worse off and in need of help. 

I may not have money, a good functioning car, or the "good" stuff in my cupboards, but I and my family are healthy and able bodied. My kids laugh everyday. My husband only has a little over a year to go in school instead of 3 or 4 years, we've got family nearby, wonderful friends all around us (near and far), and we are able to give our service to our friends and neighbors who desperately need the help of others right now for reasons which I know I would never make it through if it were me in their place. 

And so, whoever you are, whatever your situation... you have a choice. That can NEVER be taken from you. Viktor Frankl, author of Man's Search For Meaning (my favorite book), learned  this while he was a prisoner and slave in the worst concentration camps during World War 2. He, along with millions of Jews, were stripped of all they had... freedom, job, home, family, food, the very clothes on their backs... and their own given name was even replaced by a new "identity" they were forced to go by... a number branded on their arm. Though everything humanly possible was taken away, Viktor Frankl realized he still had choice. He had his mind, his memories, and his ability to choose to hope for a better day to come, or to let despair overcome him and end his life. Be strong or give up. 

We can all list things that make us happy or ways to be more joyful, but consider these instructions on how to be miserable as well. I pondered on each point and realized I've gotten my lists mixed up because I'm guilty of all these items!!! (There are also some very insightful quotes to go along with each item.)

How To Be Miserable

Daily, constantly, we choose by our desires, our thoughts, and our actions whether we want to be blessed or cursed, happy or miserable.  ~Ezra Taft Benson

1. Believe That Things Will Never Change
  • Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change. ~Norman Vincent Peale
  • Tough times never last, but tough people do! ~Robert Schuller

2. Think About Your Problems
  • Everyone can be discontented if he ignores his blessings and looks only at his burdens. ~Thomas S. Monson

3. Worry About Things You Can't Control
  • He who worries about calamities suffers them twice over. ~Og Mandino

4. Complain About Your Blessings
  • I complained because I had no shoes until I saw a man who had no feet. ~Sign in a shoe shop

5. Think About Yourself
  • Generally speaking, the most miserable people I know are those who are obsessed with themselves: the happiest people I know are those who lose themselves in the service of others. ~Gordon B. Hinckley

6. Put Yourself Down (and/or Compare Yourself To Others "Better Off")
  • Our doubts are traitors,  And make us lose the good we oft might win... ~William Shakespeare

7.  Hold Onto Grudges
  • There is no peace in the nursing of a grudge. There is no happiness in living for the day when you can "get even." ~Gordon B. Hinckley

8. Put Deadlines On Your Happiness (i.e. "I won't be happy until __________ happens.")
  • Happiness is a decision, not a destination. It's and attitude, not an event! ~John Bytheway 

9. Always Want More
  • Remember that in the end, surely God will be looking only for clean hands, not full ones. ~Jeffrey R. Holland

10. Postpone Prayer
  • Ask and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. ~Matthew 7:7

11. Recycle Regrets
  • The past is behind; learn from it. The future is ahead; prepare for it. The present is here; live in it! ~Thomas S. Monson


Kathy Habel said...

Wise word of wisdom!

heather said...

LOVED this post!!! Do you mind if I use the 11 steps on one of my social work blogs?

Lisa said...

Thank You!

Please DO pass this along to anyone!!! (No need for anyone to ask me or give credit)

Make the world a less miserable place! =D

the4ofusut said...

This is wonderful!! Perfect for all of us this time of year - the reminder was wonderful!


Britten said...

I needed to hear this too! Thanks for posting these wise words, Lisa. =)