Holding on to Light

The lessons that I had in all of my classes this week could not have been more perfect for me. It was one of those weeks where everything was going right…until a wall popped up out of nowhere. Suddenly, I have no idea where I need to go and what I need to do. This would be fine if I had time, but there is just over one month until I graduate. Upon graduation, I lose my student job and housing. No pressure.

Well, as I said I had classes that covered really great material that helped me out a ton. I still don’t know where I am going, but I am working on that part. In A Field Guide for the Hero’s Journey, there is a chapter on “The Giant of Despair.” Within this chapter it reads, “when you are in the valley of darkness, go on believing in light.” Just a few short sentences later, a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp was referenced. During his captivity, he wrote the following words on a cellar wall: “I believe in the sun even when it is not shining, I believe in love even when I do not feel it, I believe in God even when He is silent.”

It amazes me the things that people push through while holding on to light and hope. In my faith, these principles are taught and I strive to live them, but it’s hard. This is something that takes work and effort, so there isn’t time to sit on the sidelines and wait for good things to come to you. Sure, failure is a possibility, but I would rather fail a thousand times than die without even trying. And that is coming from someone who’s number one fear is failure.

We need to learn to start embracing some of these failures and accept them for what they truly are: learning experiences. If you think about it, have you really failed if you learned what you needed from the situation? No matter how long the trial, no matter how far the setback, and no matter how many obstacles seem to knock you over, we cannot let fear and darkness define us.

In a talk entitled “However Long and Hard the Road” by LDS church leader Elder Jeffery R. Holland, the following was said, “As long and laborious as the effort may seem, please keep shaping and setting the stones that will make your accomplishment “a grand and imposing spectacle.” Take advantage of every opportunity to learn and grow. Dream dreams and see visions. Work toward their realization. Wait patiently when you have no other choice. Lean on your sword and rest a while, but get up and fight again.”

This is the big picture goal. Not to give in, but to fight the good fight with a dream in mind.

Passion or Die

As an English major, I have a strong love for the written and spoken language. A single word is something incredibly ambiguous. It is a combination of symbols that is given meaning through mutual agreement within a group or society. These meanings develop and change over time, which shows some of the ambiguity within the symbols.

One word that I have been thinking about this past week is passion. According to dictionary.com, this word originally meant to suffer. However, “Sense extended to sufferings of martyrs, and suffering generally, by early 13c. [the] meaning [became] ‘strong emotion, desire’ is attested from late 14c., from Late Latin use of passio to render Greek pathosReplaced Old English þolung (used in glosses to render Latin passio), literally ‘suffering,’ from þolian (v.) ‘to endure.'”

Today, this word has several different meanings. The specific definition that I want to talk about though is, “a strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for anything.” 

Passion is something that keeps us moving forward towards our goals and desires. It is an emotion that we feel so strongly towards something that it becomes a part of us, like a second nature. For me, this would be reading and writing. I don’t really have to think about it, because it is a part of who I am. But get me talking about it and I won’t stop. It is these things that bring us true joy.

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Passion is also what drives us to never settle for mediocrity. It provides us with a desire to push for excellence. This to brings us toward happiness in life. It has been said by many that the pursuit of knowledge keeps us young. It is when we stop seeking after learning that we begin to dull and lose excitement. If you ask me, life is too short to risk losing excitement.

It is so important to learn early on what keeps us excited in life. Otherwise, we risk becoming those sad people that Nicholas Sparks describes. But, if we can find that early on and even get paid to do it, life will turn out to be pretty alright.

Self-Mastery

This week, the main thing that I learned about is what it means to have mastered the self. In most dictionaries, the definition is simple. “self-control.” I don’t believe that this can be simplified so much though. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it this way, “the power to control one’s actions, impulses, or emotions.” That is a lot closer than the first, but still a far cry from what I have come to think it to mean.

Selfgrowth.com I think is the best source for understanding this word. “Self Mastery, alone, sounds like a selfish term; but if you cannot help yourself, you will have limited ability to help others. Self mastery is the ability to make the most out of your physical, mental, and spiritual health. In other words, to be the best you can be.”

There’s a lot more to it though, so I definitely encourage anyone and everyone to check out the site here.

To be the best you can be means to stop making up excuses. In order to master the self, we must be aware of the self and not stand in our own way in terms of development. We need to know our dreams and desires, know our weaknesses and pitfalls, then do everything to become the best version of our self.

This week as I studied for my classes, I found myself growing frustrated with myself and with my lack of knowing where I am headed. But as I read a talk assigned to me for class, I caught myself. In the talk “Success is Gauged by Self-Mastery” by N. Eldon Tanner, a quote is given from da Vinci. He said, “the height of a man’s success is gauged by his self-mastery; the depth of his failure by his self-abandonment. … And this law is the expression of eternal justice. He who cannot establish dominion over himself will have no dominion over others.”

Focusing in on our failures does not equate to progress or change. Focusing in on positive change does that. We must be aware of our shortcomings, but then have the willpower to propel us forward. It is this power that allows us to do the hard things. Because, lets face it, life isn’t easy. It wasn’t meant to be. If it were, college would be free and change would be easy. It is through the struggle that we realize our strength. It is through the realization of that strength that we obtain the courage to do hard things again. We must start in order to come out victorious in the end. If we did so, how  glorious our lives would be!

The Importance of Mentors

Among other things, last week I learned about the importance of having good mentors in our lives. I’m not sure who said this, but someone has once defined a mentor this way: “someone whose hindsight can become your foresight.”

As a younger person, I remember having to always learn the hard way. No matter how many people would warn me of something, I had to try it to believe it. Eventually though, I learned that it is often a lot easier and much more effective to try learning from other people when possible. That being said, I had never really considered going out and actively finding a mentor of sorts. Lucky for me, my business class had me do just this.

I found three individuals, all from different stages of life, that relate to me on some level and asked if I could take up a small portion of their time. I still have one tomorrow, but I have learned a ton from the other two.

From a short conversation with an acquaintance, he was able to steer me in the right direction on many levels. I went into the conversation ready to simply learn how to figure out my next more, but I came out with more. Three goals/commitments to be exact.

  1. Get rid of all questioning negative language from my vocabulary. Wherever I feel the urge to use such language, I am to use positive and motivational alternatives.
  2. Read Finding Your Element: How to Discover Your Talents and Passions and Transform Your Life by Ken Robinson.
  3. Write the book I have felt the need to write within the next three years.

Aside from these three goals, I have also learned much about myself and how to improve in other ways. On top of that, I have received incredible advice from people who have already been where I am now. So, not only do I have some good pointers, but I have vision and know that it is possible.

Mentoring

So, if you haven’t already, go out and find some mentors. Find people that have already made progress on a similar path to the one you are considering taking. Ask questions and soak everything in. It is through this method that we are able to make important strides forward and move in the direction of success.

Taking Control of My Life

At some point in our lives, we must take control if we wish to get anywhere that is worth getting to. This week, I made my personal constitution. In essence, this is a plan that establishes what is most important to me and what I want to achieve in this life. Obviously plans change, but it is through written goals that we are able to accomplish the things that we set out to do.

By reflecting on who I am now and who I want to become, I was then able to set long-term goals. Based off of those goals, I created short-term goals that will move me in the direction of achieving my long-term goals. Then, I set a few standard tasks to do each day that will help me to develop desired attributes and get closer to reaching my goals.

Success quote

It is a common phrase that a goal not written is only a dream, or something to that effect. We can’t expect to become who we want to be in the future without making small steps now. By creating this personal constitution, I was able to begin becoming the person I envision myself becoming.

In an article I read in preparation for writing my constitution, “A Journey of Personal Transformation,” I found a quote that really stood out to me. It reads, “you’re fully capable of radically changing the world for the better. But before you do anything, it helps to ask yourself: Am I leading the life I am meant to lead? Or am I trying to be someone else?” When we start to consider this, we may begin to take control of our lives.