President Thomas S. Monson taught his particular brand of the ABCs to Weber State University's graduating class as he addressed their commencement ceremony April 23 in Ogden, Utah.
After having had conferred upon him in the school's Dee Events Center an honorary doctorate of humanities degree, President Monson told the 2,314 graduates that they were "very much aware that graduation is not the completion of a tedious book but simply the ending of one chapter and the beginning of another in your exciting book of life."
He told them, "Your future is in your hands. The outcome is up to you. I challenge you to undertake a personal, diligent, ever-so-significant quest for what I call the abundant life — a life filled with an abundance of success, an abundance of goodness and an abundance of blessings.
"You may ask, 'How does one obtain such a life?' Just as you learned your ABCs when you started school as a child, I offer my own ABCs to help you gain the abundant life as you step away from this campus and venture forth into the world."
The A in President Monson's ABCs refers to attitude.
President Monson said, "So much in our life depends on our attitude. The way we choose to see things or behave or to respond to others makes all the difference. To do the very best we can, and then to choose to be happy about our circumstances, whatever they may be, can bring peace and contentment."
He noted that there are people who seem to "roll with the punches," who are pleasant and cheerful through almost any challenge. He said they choose to find joy everywhere and to leave it behind them when they go.
"You, too, can choose to have a positive attitude. You can't direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails. In other words, you can choose to be happy and positive, regardless of what comes your way. The definition of an optimist, according to one man, is 'someone who isn't sure whether life is a tragedy or a comedy but is tickled silly just to be in the play.' "
President Monson continued, "We have but one chance at this life. For maximum happiness, peace and contentment, may we choose a positive attitude."
The B in his ABCs is for belief — "belief in yourself, belief in those around you, and belief in a set of principles," President Monson declared.
"Believe in the truths of science; believe in the fundamentals of economics, accounting and English; but most of all, believe in yourself and then live so as to reach your possibilities," President Monson advised the graduates.
Further, he said, "Don't limit yourself, and don't let others convince you that you are limited in what you can do. Remember that you can achieve what you believe you can. Trust and believe and have faith."
The C in President Monson's ABCs refers to courage.
"Courage becomes a worthwhile and meaningful virtue when it is regarded not so much as a willingness to die manfully as the determination to live decently," President Monson said.
He told members of the assembly that there will be times when they will be frightened and discouraged. "You may feel that you are defeated," he noted. "The odds of obtaining victory may appear overwhelming. At times you may feel as though you are David, trying to fight Goliath. But remember — David did win!"
He quoted Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who faced many challenges during her lifetime: " 'You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, "I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along." The danger lies in refusing to face the fear, in not daring to come to grips with it. If you fail anywhere along the line, it will take your confidence. You must do the thing you cannot do.' "
President Monson counseled the graduates, "Have the determination to make the effort, the single-mindedness to work toward a worthy goal, and the courage not only to face the challenges which inevitably come but also to make a second effort, should such be required.
"Courage isn't always grandiose. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says, 'I'll try again tomorrow.' "
Concluding his address, President Monson said, "Today as you file solemnly from this great institution of learning, may you look backward with pride and look forward with hope. Your training, your experience, your knowledge are tools to be skillfully used. They have been self-acquired. Your conscience, your love and your faith are delicate and precious instruments to guide your destiny. They have been God-given.
"Remember your ABCs as you journey through life, that you may cultivate a positive attitude, believe that you can achieve your goals, and have the courage to face whatever challenges may come your way. Then, the abundant life will be yours."