Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Saturday, August 18, 2012


                    Our attitudes affect our thoughts, words, and actions, and they ultimately affect our happiness.  Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints should be the most positive-thinking people in the world because we have the gospel of Jesus Christ and know that we are spirit children of a loving Heavenly Father.  Living the gospel of Jesus Christ can help us develop positive attitudes and create happiness, peace, and contentment - not only in our  own lives but in the lives of other people.  I am grateful that I normally have a positive attitude!

                    We all have chores or activities that we do not always enjoy doing.  I do not particularly enjoy fishing or hunting big game.  These are not activities that I choose to do, and yet I often accompany my husband in doing them.  Why?  I do them because I know that my husband enjoys doing them and wants me to accompany him.

                    I noticed a few days ago that as I procrastinated going out to work in the yard I developed more of an aversion to doing so.  I also noticed that once I actually forced myself into the yard, I thoroughly enjoyed my activities there.  In spite of the fact that a swarm of yellow jackets attacked me, I still enjoyed working in my raspberry patch!

                    So why do we sometimes have difficult times in doing the things that we know we should - even when we know blessings will come from those activities?   This difficulty can often be traced back to our attitude - either about the particular chore or something else in our life.  Once we make the choice to have a positive attitude, we can usually do our work faster and better and with more enjoyment.  Our attitudes affect every part of our lives - home chores, school assignments, work, and even how we live the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

                    President Spencer W. Kimball stated:  "I remind you … that regardless of your present age, you are building your life; … it can be full of joy and happiness, or it can be full of misery.  It all depends upon you and your attitudes, for your altitude, or the height you climb, is dependent upon your attitude or your response to situations" (Ensign, Nov. 1974, 80).

                    Another leader also spoke about the importance of a positive attitude.  Elder Thomas S. Monson, while a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, related the following story:

                    "In the mission over which I presided, there was a small branch; it consisted of two families.  I had been invited to be the speaker at one of the meetings.  I was not accustomed to such small branches; the ward over which I presided had 1,050 people.  That Sunday we went into the place where the Saints met.  It was a rented hall.  We didn't meet on the main floor; we met in a room [in] the basement, about nine people in all.
                    "After the meeting, the branch president asked if he could visit with me.  He said, `We would like to have a chapel in our branch.'  I said, `Someday.'  Then he opened a copy of one of the Church magazines and showed me pictures of chapels of Australia and New Zealand.  He said, `This is the one we would like to build,' and he pointed to a building that would house maybe four hundred people, that would cost far more money than they had.
                    "I said, `Oh, you will not be able to afford that until you have several hundred members.'  He said, `We intend to have many hundreds of members.'  And then he asked me if I would send six missionaries into his branch.  He indicated that his family would personally share the gospel with the city, and this he did.
                    "One day, with the missionaries in his little store, he said, `Elders, let's pray.'  And they got down upon their knees and prayed.  This branch president then said, `This is the greatest day in the city of St. Thomas.  This is the day when the gospel shall really begin to be preached with effectiveness in this city. This is the day when we begin to build our new chapel.'
                    "The missionaries asked, `Whom are we going to teach?  We have no investigators.'  The branch president said, `Hand me the telephone directory.'   And he turned to the back of the directory where men of all professions were listed.  He said, `If we are going to build a new chapel, we need an architect who is a Mormon.  And since we don't have an architect who is a member of this branch, we must convert one.'  Then he went down the list and said, `Who shall be the first Mormon architect in St. Thomas?'  And he identified a name.  Then he continued with a contractor or builder, and a plumber, and an electrician, and a doctor, and a lawyer.  Then he personally went to each and invited him into his home so that the missionaries might present the message and he and his family could bear testimony after the missionaries had given their message.
                    "What was the result of that sharing?  I am God's witness that in the three years that I served in eastern Canada, I saw that branch grow from two families to a branch of almost three hundred members.   They constructed their beautiful chapel.  I attended the meeting where that building held perhaps four hundred persons.  What was the secret?  It was the attitude `we can achieve our goal'" (in Conference Report, Amsterdam Area Conference, Aug. 1976, 8-9).

                    This story illustrates the importance of attitude and the need to develop positive attitudes.  This tiny branch achieved amazing growth because the branch president had a positive attitude and a "can do" spirit.  Instead of thinking about the difficulty of the work ahead of him, the branch president stepped forward and accomplished his goal.

                    A girl by the name of Suzanne learned an important lesson about the effects of attitude in gym class.  "Suzanne did not like gym class.  She was tall and uncoordinated, and she felt like a failure in gym.  One day the teacher asked for a volunteer to teach a younger boy to swim during gym class time.  Suzanne thought nothing could be worse than playing basketball, so she volunteered.

                    "Teaching Henry, a young mentally handicapped boy, turned out to be a real challenge.  As the lessons progressed, Suzanne became very frustrated because Henry would not listen to her.  She began to be rude and unkind to him.  One night Suzanne prayed and asked Heavenly Father to soften Henry's heart so he would obey her.  The next few days Henry acted just the same.  However, Suzanne noticed that he had a nice smile.  Then she laughed at something he did.  Then she started talking with him instead of yelling at him.  As Suzanne started being positive and kind to Henry, he became more willing to listen and follow her directions.  By the end of the semester he had learned to swim the width of the pool.  Suzanne realized that it wasn't Henry's heart that needed softening; it was her own."  (See Suzanne C. Stewart, "Sink or Swim," New Era, Jan. 1994, 44-45.)

                    Henry's behavior was affected by Suzanne's bad attitude toward him.  As she accepted him more and learned to enjoy her time with him, his behavior improved.

                    How is your attitude?  Do you count your blessings or are you constantly thinking of things that you do not have?  Are you comfortable with your money and possessions or do you often wish for wealth and more possessions?  Are you happy when you are busy or do you complain about having too much to do?  Do you enjoy serving others or are you "too busy" to help others?  Do you look for the good in situations or other people or do you criticize and find fault?

                    Since our attitudes change from time to time, it is important that we do not judge ourselves too harshly; however, we should look seriously at the general trend of our attitudes.  Good attitudes bring more happiness and peace into our lives.  So, if good and positive attitudes are so important, how do we develop them?  We must first realize that we can choose what attitude we will have.  We can choose to have a positive attitude.

                    The Book of Mormon - Another Testament of Jesus Christ has numerous examples of how attitudes affect behavior and happiness.  The prophet Lehi led his family out of Jerusalem and into the wilderness after being instructed to do so by the Lord, a decision that affected the various members of the family in different ways.

                    Nephi returned from a wonderful and spiritual experience to the tent of his father Lehi.  Lehi told his younger son that the Lord had commanded him to send his sons back to Jerusalem to obtain the records.  Lehi told Nephi that the older sons found the assignment to be "a hard thing" and explained that it was a commandment of the Lord.  The father also recognized that Nephi had not murmured at their circumstances.  I am very certain that Lehi was relieved to hear Nephi say, "I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the things which he commandeth them."  (See 1 Nephi 3:4-7.)

                    Nephi's positive attitude helped the brothers to achieve success in their assignment.  After an absence of about a month, the brothers returned to the tent of their father with the Brass Plates.  Nephi's example shows us that the first way to change our attitude is to Trust in the Lord.  When we have faith that the Lord will not ask us to do anything that is impossible for us to accomplish, we will have a better attitude as we seek to complete the assignment.
                    The second way to develop a positive attitude is to follow Nephi's example to Pray.  Just prior to receiving the assignment to return to Jerusalem, Nephi prayed and received personal revelation from God.  "And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, … and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers" (1 Nephi 2:16).

                    A third way to develop a positive attitude comes from Reading the Scriptures.  Scripture study can help us to learn the truth and lead us to repentance.  Scripture study can help us get rid of negative attitudes and change our hearts.  Helaman wrote the following about how the converted Lamanites were firm and steadfast in keeping the commandments of God.  "And behold, ye do know of yourselves, for ye have witnessed it, that as many of them as are brought to the knowledge of the truth, and to know of the wicked and abominable traditions of their fathers, and are led to believe the holy scriptures, yea, the prophecies of the holy prophets, which are written, which leadeth them to faith on the Lord, and unto repentance, which faith and repentance bringeth a change of heart unto them" (Helaman 15:7).

                    A fourth way to help us develop a positive attitude is found in John 16:33:  "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace.  In the world ye shall have tribulation:  but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.  When I have negative feelings, I force my face into a smile; I have learned that a smile does more to lift my attitude than anything else I do.  I have also found that singing a positive hymn or song also lifts my attitude.

                    A positive attitude does not always come to us naturally.  When we choose to have a good attitude, we can use these suggestions to improve our attitude.

                    I know that we can experience more happiness if we maintain positive attitudes.  I try to look at life as though my glass is half full.  I prefer to be around other people who have positive attitudes.  I have a firm belief that there is some good in every person and situation, and I welcome the challenge to find that good! 

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