A few years ago, during a personal spiritual "needs assessment," I realized that if I were sincere about refining my soul, I had to be more selective about what I was feeding it. A subsequent evaluation of the music I listened to, the books I read, and the movies I watched led to some important changes.
For example, popular music with cheap lyrics often canceled out the good feelings induced by an appealing melody. By listening to classical music radio programs, I could maintain a mental environment conducive to creativity, meditation, joy and introspection.Knowing nothing about opera, I read, listened to the music, learned the stories and watched as much as I could. With a more valid basis for judgment, I appreciated it more.
I also decided not to let television rule my life. With the help of listings, I plan my TV watching in advance. I support community arts events, and volunteer for organizations that present or foster the arts. By recognizing and sharing my talents, my enjoyment of the arts has deepened.
Although I can't attend arts events as often as I'd like, I learned that I don't have to settle for cultural or intellectual junk food. I can prepare a nourishing feast for my soul and enhance the quality of my life in a meaningful way through the best of the visual and performing arts. - Pam Williams, Richfield, Utah
How we did it:
Adversity caused change
Adversity has improved the quality of our family's life. Two years ago my husband and I were facing some difficult situations and decided that we needed the Lord's help. We also knew that to be eligible for His blessings, we had to keep all the commandments and adhere to the counsel of those in authority.
With renewed vigor, we worked to get our lives in order. My husband organized regular early-morning scripture reading, called us together each night for family prayer, and instituted gospel teaching at family home evenings. Our temple attendance also became more consistent.
We knew we should have been doing these things all along, but had never quite made them high priorities in our lives. The adversity was the impetus that gave us the determination we needed to make these things habitual. The adversity in our lives hasn't ended, but we are happy, and our family is closer. - Janet Cannon, Salt Lake City, Utah
Read more books
As a New Year's resolution, I resolved to improve the quality of my life. I did this by committing to read more books. These books included spiritually uplifting books, classics and non-fiction. Abraham Lincoln once said, "What I want to know is in books, and my best friend is the one who will get me a book I haven't read."
As I stay home with my daughter, I take time to read, and when a subject of interest or misunderstanding arises, I go one step further and research it. By opening my mind and applying self-discipline, I also am educating myself. Through this self-improvement, I also hope to improve the quality of my children's lives by taking the time to teach them the things I have learned. - Nancy M. Geary, Moscow, Idaho
Attitude influences life
The quality of life each one of us leads depends to a great extent upon the attitudes with which we approach life and its various situations. We all set our levels of existence in this life, anywhere from allowing to coping and overcoming.
A positive attitude is a must if we are to live a high quality of life. How do we learn to approach things positively? Look for the up side of every situation. Concentrate on the growth that has taken place in yourself or in others during a difficult circumstance or situation.
Change your attitudes by reading the scriptures and praying daily for the help of the Holy Spirit. Screen what goes into your mind. Seek uplifting experiences through good books, music or tapes. Also associate with uplifting people. Always look for a way to help someone else to feel good about themselves. - Karen Reed, Longmont, Colo.
Improve others' lives
Do your best to improve the quality of the lives of those around you, and your life will become better. Emphasize the popular saying - "Service with a smile" - because it never fails. Also, the power of a prayer and a little positive thinking go a long way. - Michelle Nash, Bethel, Ohio
Follow Savior's pattern
Jesus taught that ". . . the works that I do shall he do also." (John 14:12.) By patterning our lives after the Savior, we can improve the quality of our lives.
To put this into practice, write ideas for emulating the Savior in a looseleaf binder. These ideas can be gleaned from scripture reading, books, periodicals and Church talks. Each morning in meditation, read one idea and plan how to incorporate it into one's life that day. This way, becoming Christlike can be achieved day by day. - Judith Hyde, Farmington, Utah
Set certain priorities
To get real satisfaction in anything, it's necessary to devote everything to the situation at hand. Once I have decided what is the most important - that is where all my efforts go. Praying, exercising faith, and doing one thing at a time is a winning combination in attaining my desires.
I often reflect on a quote by Harry Emerson Fosdick, "No horse gets anywhere until it is harnessed; no steam or gas ever drives anything until it is confined; no Niagara is ever turned into light until it is tunneled; and no life ever grows great until it is focused, dedicated and disciplined." - Elder John W. Padven, Canada Montreal Mission
Give unselfish service
In Proverbs 23:7, we read, "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:" If one wants to improve his quality of life, one must first plant the thought in his heart. Then a person should embellish that thought by becoming immersed in the scriptures, for it is there that one will find the Lord's admonition on how to make this improvement. Jesus improved the quality of His life through unconditional love for all mankind and His unselfish service. We must remember, he who is greatest in the kingdom is the same as he who has served the most. By planting the thought and performing unselfish service to others, we will see the quality of our lives improve. - Bill Sperry, Boise, Idaho
Strength from scriptures
Here are four things to remember in our search to improve our lives:
- Avoid watching too much television.
- Do something for someone else. It will make you forget about your problems.
- Read the scriptures every day. It will give you the spiritual strength you will need to make it through the day.
- Exercise. It will give you the physical strength to do your work and you will feel much better. - Jim Budd, Erda, Utah
How to checklist:
1 Keep the commandments and adhere to Church leaders' counsel.
2 Expand your mind with classical, spiritual and educational books.
3 Improve the lives of those around you through unselfish service.
4 Think positively, have a good attitude and look at the bright side.
WRITE TO US:
April 16 "How to make time for exercise."
April 23 "How to raise a useful garden, especially with limited space."
April 30 "How to make Mother's Day memorable for your mother."
May 7 "How to grow old with a pleasant, positive disposition."
May 14 "How to prepare for natural or financial disasters."
May 21 "How to include non-member friends in a wholesome and positive graduation celebration."
May 28 "How to help your children entertain themselves during the summer."
June 4 "How to keep everybody happy with three generations in the home."
June 11 "How to understand ordinances and their blessings."
June 18 "How to avoid discouragement or burnout in a small ward or branch."
Have you had good experiences or practical success in any of the above subjects? Share them with our readers in about 100-150 words. Write the "How-to" editor, Church News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, Utah 84110. Contributions may be edited or excerpted and will not be returned. Material must be received at least 12 days before publication date.