Monday, January 31, 2011

Less is More

Another lesson from my kindergartners...

For awhile I was obsessive compulsive about the pencils in our classroom. Every day at the end of the day I would sharpen them and make sure everyone had a nice eraser. I figured if I did this the kids would have less to complain about. Boy was I wrong.

First it was the erasers. Everyone wanted a specific color. "I WANT PINK!!" "BUT I WANT PINK TOO!" I heard all day...about all different colors. If it wasn't the colors, then it was fighting over the sharpest pencils. Finally, after a few weeks of this drama, I gave up on the pencils and stopped sharping and putting on nice erasers.

A surprising thing happened. My kids stopped fighting. They just accepted the awful pencils I left them. If they needed to erase, they would ask someone who had a tiny bit of eraser left and they'd willingly let them borrow it. I thought for sure more contention would arise from my lack of diligence with the pencils, but instead, they were calm. They had less to fight about.

This incident made me think of another one that happened with my cousin when he was very young. His family at the time was extremely poor. Christmas rolled around and there was one little package under the tree for little Michael. When he excitedly ripped open the paper, he found what any normal kid (and some adults) would deem disappointing: socks. Yet, Michael was ECSTATIC. He ran around showing everyone excitedly his socks and was nothing but thrilled.

This is why I have come to the conclusion that less, is really more. The more we have, the more we can find to complain about. My cell phone is giving me problems. My new house doesn't have nice enough carpet. My job is boring. However, it seems like those who have less have learned to be happy with what they have, because they are so excited to have something!

I know I'm guilty of complaining about my blessings. We probably all have our moments. But in those times we start to wish we had more, or better, think of those who have none, and remember, less is more.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Year of LOVE 2011

I love setting new years resolutions but this is the first year I have decided to set a theme for the year. I got the idea from a book called "The Happiness Project" where the author dedicates a year to improving her already happy life. I like the idea, and set decided to set up my own project, but instead of focusing on happiness I want to focus on love. Making it public what I want to do and writing it all down will help me stick to it better, hopefully, than I have stuck to past resolutions.
First, I broke the months up in to focus points:

January: Back to Basics
If I am going to be more loving and serving, then I need to get back to the basics of my life so that I will be a "sharper instrument" in the had of God in loving others. I need to exercise daily, study my scriptures daily, attend the temple often and say my prayers. In doing these things I will be more at peace with myself and therefore better able to love and serve others.

February: Attitude of Gratitude
Gratitude seems to be the source of all other virtues. As my gratitude increases towards God and others, my heart will be filled with more love.

March: Marriage
I am very happily married but I know I can be a better spouse. Besides God of course, my husband is my first priority and therefore I want to focus on showing more love to him and being a better wife.

April: True Charity: Words
"The Tongue of Angels", an excellent talk by Elder Holland, was my inspiration for this month's focus. I want to watch my words an be sure that every word that leaves my mouth has no taint of evil or jealousy, only love. True love.

May: True Charity: Thoughts
Once I get my words in order I want to work on my thoughts. I love the quote by Elder Ashton that says "True Charity is giving the benefit of the doubt." I want to work on not even thinking negatively about others and striving my best not to misjudge them one bit. I don't want to even let myself think envious, bitter, or degrading thoughts towards anyone.

June: True Charity: Actions towards family
Close, extended, and my ancestors! I want to build better relationships with my brothers and sisters and extended family. I want to start working on family history work and better getting to know my ancestors. I also want to prepare to have a little one (since by this point, one will be in the next month or two. ;)

July: True Charity: Actions towards friends
I want to be a better friend! I want to reach out more and put aside my insecurities. I want to serve an show love. I want to reach out to people I don't know and help them feel loved as well. I want everyone in my "circle of influence" to feel loved.

August: True Charity: WORLD
I want to start a project or be a part of something that gives service to the world.

September: Love of the Word
I want to dive in deep to God's word. "A love affair with the scriptures" as stated by one of my friends is what I want to have.

October: Missionary Work
"True love is missionary work in action!"

November: Love for His Leaders
I want to study the words of  God's apostles and prophets, come to know them and love them.

December: Love for Christ
Charity is the pure Love of Christ, love for Him, from Him, and like Him. I want to give myself as a gift to the Lord, focus on him, and strive to do His will with love like His and love for him.

I also came up with seven maxims to help me with the things I know I'll struggle with....

Chellie's Seven Maxims
1. I need His grace
2. I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me
3. Love is the motive
4. Baby steps, baby steps
5. Consistency is the key
6. Discouragement is not of God
7. ENJOY to the End

So here begins my year of love!!