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"Have a good day" is practically a mantra in our society. But no one reminds us to see good days. What would change if we took as our motto the scriptural phrase "Love life, and see good days" (1 Peter 3:10)?
"I believe it would be life changing," writes Emily Freeman. "I believe it would lead to more happiness. But how is it done?"
In this "handbook of happy thoughts," Emily invites us to explore some of the scriptures she found on her quest for the answers to that question. Each of these verses becomes a simple suggestion to help us see good days, whether that means shifting our perspective a bit, letting go of a few things, rising above some of our old frustrations, or reaching deep inside for enough faith to trust in the Savior's promises to us.
Sometimes it feels as if the whole world has crashed down around us. At other times, we may be doing all right but just feel the desire for something more. Whatever our situation, these reflections will help each of us discover how to more fully Love Life, and See Good Days.
- Chapter 1: It's All in Your Perspective
- Chapter 2: You Have Compassed This Mountain Long Enough
- Chapter 3: The Breaking of the Day Has Found Me on My Knees
- Chapter 4: Live After the Manner of Happiness
- Chapter 5: I Knew ... Yet I Would Not Know
- Chapter 6: The Answer You Need
- Chapter 7: My Heart Had Great Experience
- Chapter 8: List What You Love
- Chapter 9: Sowing in Tears—Reaping in Joy
- Chapter 10: Specially This Day
- Chapter 11: In Every Particular
- Chapter 12:The Oil of Gladness Conclusion: The Happy Book
Introduction: Love Life, and See Good Days
- Size: 5x7½
- Pages: 138
- Published: 08/2011
About the Author
Emily Freeman took her first creative writing class in high school and has loved writing ever since. She finds great joy in studying the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. Her deep love of the scriptures comes from a desire to find their application in everyday life. She is the author of several books, including The Ten Virgins; 21 Days Closer to Christ; and The Promise of Enough. There is nothing Emily enjoys more for breakfast than a bowl of vanilla ice cream, raspberries, and chocolate chips. Other favorites include parades, vacations, firework displays, and going for a long walk with a good friend. Emily and her husband, Greg, live in Lehi, Utah, with their four children, whom she adores.
It’s All in Your Perspective
The road to my children’s school lies next to acres of farmland. One afternoon as I drove up that road, my eyes wandered across the fields approaching in front of my car. From my westward position it seemed the farmer had planted his crops quite randomly—green plants were sprouting up everywhere with absolutely no rhyme or reason. What an awful mess, I thought as my car approached the western border of the first field. Imagine my surprise once I got completely abreast of the field and looked out the passenger window to the right at perfectly lined rows running straight from north to south, with a carefully placed irrigation canal separating each row.
We passed by the first field, and as we approached the next one I turned to my daughter Megan and said, “Look up ahead at that field. What do you see?”
Her response was the same as mine, “A mess.”
Once we were next to the field, I had her look again. “Now what do you see?”
A look of amazement crossed her face as she saw the crop growing in perfectly lined rows. “Mom, how did that happen?” she asked.
It is amazing what can happen if we simply change our point of view. Sometimes what once seemed a disastrous mess suddenly falls into place. Stepping back and looking at things a different way allows us to realize that the situation is not as bad as it first appeared. In fact, sometimes it’s good. Often all we need to do to see the good is simply redefine our perspective.
The scriptures teach, “He who hath faith to see shall see” (D&C 42:49). Learning to see good days might require a little faith and practice. Our outlook is often determined by our point of view.
I am convinced that all of us have moments when everything we perceive seems to be an awful mess. In these moments we must turn to the Lord. Focusing on Him will help us to receive a greater understanding of the situation. He has counseled, “They seeing see not . . . but blessed are your eyes, for they see” (Matthew 13:13, 16).
In the eighth chapter of Mark we read of an experience when the disciples of Christ found themselves in need of a different perspective. On this particular day a great multitude had come to hear the Savior teach. The people had been with the Savior for three days, and they had not eaten during that time. The Savior was worried that if He sent them away fasting, they would faint before they could reach their homes.
It is clear that many of the people had traveled a long distance to hear the Lord speak. From the scriptures we learn that they were in the wilderness, far from a location where food might be purchased. Just as He had in a previous situation, Jesus asked the disciples how many loaves of bread they had. Then, in actions reminiscent of an earlier miracle, the Savior fed four thousand with seven loaves of bread and a few fishes.
I love the teaching moment that came after this miracle. Leaving a group of questioning Pharisees behind, Jesus entered a boat with the disciples to journey to the other side of the sea. Not long after they began their journey, the disciples realized they had forgotten to bring the bread that was remaining, and that within the ship there was only one loaf. As they discussed the situation, the Savior instructed them to “beware of the leaven of the Pharisees” (Mark 8:15). It was an interesting choice of words.
As is often the case, within one simple sentence the Lord had incorporated a complex lesson. This lesson is found in the word leaven. Leavening requires an agent, such as yeast. This leavening agent causes a reaction within the original dough, forming bubbles of gas, which lighten the finished product. When leaven is used, it causes the original dough to change—both in appearance and in flavor. Even just a small amount of leaven mixed into the dough will produce the desired effect throughout. The Savior was cautioning the disciples against the leaven of the Pharisees, who were filled with doubt, asking endless questions, seeking signs, tempting the Lord.
Not understanding, the disciples reasoned among themselves, and they finally decided the instruction from the Savior came because they had no bread. When Jesus heard this line of reasoning, He said, “Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? perceive ye not yet, neither understand? . . . Having eyes, see ye not?” (Mark 8:17, 18; emphasis added). Somehow the disciples had lost their focus. Forgetting the Lord’s ability to provide miracles within the ordinary, they were unable to see the good standing right in front of them and to understand its significance.
Trying to help them change their perspective, Jesus asked, “When I brake the five loaves among five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? They say unto him, Twelve. And when the seven among four thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? And they said, Seven. And he said unto them, How is it that ye do not understand?” (Mark 8:19–21; emphasis added).
I can imagine His frustration. Just hours earlier, these men had witnessed a miracle. The Lord had taken seven loaves of bread and multiplied them to feed those who were wanting. It seemed His disciples were so focused on the problem of the one loaf of bread, they had completely forgotten that He with whom they traveled was capable of fulfilling their every need—if only they had faith. “We also too often misunderstand. . . . Seeing the scanty store in our basket, our little faith is busy with thoughts about . . . the one loaf which we have, forgetful that, where Christ is, faith may ever expect all that is needful” (Edersheim, Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, 2:71; emphasis added).
In hard times, when things are not going as well as I would hope, I try to focus again on the hand of the Lord in my life and to remember this cautionary phrase, “How is it that ye do not understand?” Maybe the only reason I don’t understand is because I have forgotten to open my eyes to the miracles in the ordinary moments. I need to change my perspective from focusing on the one loaf to really seeing the Lord.
Sometimes this change of focus can be hard. It often requires help from the Lord. In my determination to acquire this gift, I have discovered three tools that have proven to be invaluable in changing my perspective. Hopefully these ideas will be as beneficial to you as they have been to me. Rather than just list the tools, I want to share them with you through life experiences. Perhaps, since each life experience contains a lesson within it, we could refer to them as life parables: The Parable of the Skunk, The Parable of the Porta-Potty, and the Parable of the Dandelions.
The Parable of the Skunk
One night, Greg was helping my brother-in-law paint his new home. I had spent the evening with my parents because I didn’t want my youngest son, Josh, to breathe in the paint fumes. Josh was about eight months old at the time. He had been born with sleep apnea and now spent all of his sleeping hours hooked up to a special monitor that would alert us if he stopped breathing. Around ten o’clock that night, Greg called to say that they were finished painting. My dad offered to drive me to meet Greg over at the new house so we could all drive home together.
We pulled up and parked next to a large hedge across the street from the house. It was a beautiful summer evening, and although the sun had gone down, it was still very warm. I opened my door to get out and was immediately greeted by the thick, penetrating smell of a skunk. I hate skunks! I quickly checked around in the darkness to make sure the coast was clear and then opened the back door to start unloading Josh. Unplugging him from the monitor, I threw the diaper bag over one shoulder, lifted the breathing monitor strap over the other shoulder, and grabbed Josh’s infant car seat to carry him from the car. I had just slammed the car door shut and walked around the back of the vehicle when I heard a noise. Immediately I knew what it was. “Dad,” I whispered in pure panic, “the skunk is behind me!”
I was frozen in fear. I wasn’t sure what the right thing to do might be. Were skunks like bees? If I stood still for long enough, would it leave me alone? My dad, on the other hand, bolted into action. With no concern for my welfare, he grabbed the car seat with Josh strapped in it and began running full speed down the center of the street. Now, I’m not stupid, and I wasn’t going to face the skunk alone, so I took off running down the street behind him. As unbelievable as this might seem, I could hear the skunk running behind me in the darkness, chasing us down the street. I screamed after my dad, “It’s following us! What should I do?” He just started running faster.
By now I was out of breath. I didn’t know how much longer I could run with the heavy load I was carrying. As I approached the streetlight I decided to take a risk and turn around to see how close behind me the skunk was. Within the circle of light I immediately recognized the culprit. Instantly I fell to the ground, hysterical with laughter. My dad (who thought I had been skunked) stopped running and began to approach me slowly. “What is it?” he called out. “What’s wrong?” I was laughing so hard it took me at least three minutes to answer.
The light had illuminated the whole situation. What I thought was a skunk was really the cord of Josh’s monitor, which had been dragging five feet behind me since I had lifted it out of the car.
It is amazing what darkness can do. It has the unsettling effect of altering perception and creating a sense of unease. This unsettling effect happens to all of us at one time or another, and it is a reality that we need to acknowledge. Things seem to look more dire in the nighttime hours. We are all familiar with the admonition that it’s always darkest just before the dawn.
Have you ever lain awake all night trying to solve a problem in your mind? Often these sleepless nights have led me to call on the Lord in prayer. When I can’t sleep, I pray. Those dark, quiet hours allow uninterrupted time to counsel with the Lord. In Third Nephi we read, “Behold, I am . . . the light” (3 Nephi 15:9). In the darkest of hours, I have learned that the Savior really is a giver of light. When darkness surrounds us and seems to overtake us, we must do what Joseph Smith once did in a grove of trees—get down on our knees and pray.
Sometimes seeing a good day requires waiting for the sun to rise again. Often morning brings the peace and insight that elude us in the midnight hours. A key element for changing our point of view can be found in this beautiful scripture: “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Psalm 30:5).
Let the rising of the sun lift your spirit and enlighten your perspective. Spend the morning hours seeking some small portion of good amidst the darkness that surrounds you.
Maybe it’s not the darkness of the night that is hindering your perception; maybe a sense of gloom is dimming your ability to see clearly. Try to shed some light on the situation. Turn to places and things that bring light. Morning hours, the scriptures, uplifting music, and time spent at the temple can help to illuminate your current circumstances.
The parable of the skunk teaches a simple but important lesson on perspective: If you can’t see clearly now, wait for the light to come.
The Parable of the Porta-Potty
A good friend of mine went with her mother and sisters-in-law up to Midway, Utah, to shop at Swiss Days, an outdoor craft boutique. It was a girls’ day out. After hours spent perusing items at the boutique, they decided it was time for a bathroom stop. They asked for directions to the restroom and eventually found themselves standing in front of a long row of Porta-Potties.
The women were not thrilled with this option, but since there was no other alternative, they got in line. Once they were finished and had gathered back together, my friend’s mother-in-law said, “That wasn’t so bad. They have made these Porta-Potties so much nicer than they used to be. There is liquid sanitizer by the door, and it is so nice how they have that purse holder right next to the toilet seat.”
All of the sisters looked at each other. None could remember seeing a purse holder in the stall. Then one sister burst out laughing and said, “Are you talking about the urinal?” A mass of hysteria ensued. Needless to say, the mother-in-law walked around for the rest of the day with a purse dripping with hand sanitizer.
I love this woman’s point of view—where others saw a urinal, she saw a purse holder. It makes sense. Why include a urinal in a Porta-Potty? A purse holder would be so much more ingenious. She was doing her best to see something good in a situation that isn’t normally pleasant.
But there is another important lesson we learn from this woman: She wasn’t afraid to step back and laugh at her mistake.
This Porta-Potty example may seem trivial, but how many of us find ourselves in situations that we wouldn’t consider pleasant? In those moments, hopefully we do our best to find the right perspective—to see the good. But every now and then our strokes of ingenuity don’t turn out the way we had planned. Most likely, we won’t be in a Porta-Potty when our moments of brilliance come, but we might find ourselves in a situation that we didn’t choose to be in.
I think of a young mother trying to receive inspiration for one of her children because everything she’s tried up to this point hasn’t worked out the way she hoped; I think of a wife struggling to fit the pieces of her family’s tight financial situation together; I think of a woman who hopes every day that she will be enough—in her job, in her calling, in her role at home—and perhaps even have some left over to fill her own bucket. And so we pray, and we try to see the inspiration, and we give our best to the situation.
Sometimes, even after our best effort, what once seemed like a good idea doesn’t turn out the way we had hoped. All of us will experience discouragement, disappointment, and even failure. In order to change our perspective, we have to rise above the problems and learn from the mistakes. Things aren’t always going to go the way we plan or think they should. It’s okay to step back, reanalyze the situation, and maybe even laugh.
There have been so many situations in my life in which I could have chosen to cry hard or to laugh hard—and sometimes I have found myself doing both at the same time. I have said more than once, “In a couple of days I will be able to look back at this awful experience and laugh . . . if I can just get through it now.” Laughter is healing. It doesn’t mean that what you are going through isn’t serious or real—it just makes some of those painful moments a little easier to bear. Having a perspective that allows us to laugh and make the best of whatever situation we are in is often a key to seeing good days.
The Parable of the Dandelions
One weekend my girls and I took a drive together. We passed through acres and acres of farmland. My eyes were drawn to the overwhelming number of dandelions that had taken over the fields. The green landscape was dotted with a mixture of bright yellow flowers and white, fluffy balls of seeds.
We had spent weeks trying to kill the dandelions in our own yard, and I thought about what a job that farmer would have trying to clear those weeds from his landscape.
My daughters saw something different: acres and acres of dandelion fluff just waiting to be blown from the stem.
A thousand weeds or a thousand wishes.
It’s all in your perspective.
My girls were able to discern something good in an object most of us view as an irritant or a bother. The lesson in this parable is so clearly defined: Our eyes see what we want them to see.
This lesson becomes so much more profound when applied to real-life situations. Think of your relationships with members of your family; consider your outlook on your current life situation; reflect on the private conversations you have with yourself about who you are and who you are becoming. What is it that you focus on? What do you see?
If our focus is to see good even when that good part might be hard to uncover—if that is the principle that motivates our vision—it can completely change our view. One key to seeing good days is to learn how to discern the good in every situation we find ourselves in.
Life has taught me that this kind of discernment is a gift. Some of us are born with this ability; others might have to pray and work diligently to receive it. Elder Stephen L Richards said, “This gift, when highly developed arises largely out of an acute sensitivity to impressions—spiritual impressions, if you will—to read under the surface . . . to find the good that may be concealed. The highest type of discernment is that which perceives in others and uncovers for them their better natures, the good inherent within them” (in Conference Report, April 1950, 162). Let what you see be governed by a desire to uncover something better, to recognize the concealed good that is inherent within.
To see a good day, change your perspective. Look at things in a different light. Laugh. Uncover the good that may be concealed. Let your perspective allow you to focus on the Lord. Through Him, understanding will come.
To see a good day . . . change your perspective.
by Customer - reviewed on September 08, 2011
I liked this book because it was positive and helped me see that I have power over the fact that I can make a good day out of an ordinary one. I have many challenges physically but I can see good days. This book helped me see I can have more good days. Thank you.
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