Sunday, January 1, 2017

new years commitments


it was my turn to teach in relief society today (what a start to the year!) and i wanted something suitable for the occasion (new years day!) that would make people really think about what was important and how they could really achieve what they set out to do at the beginning of the year. i found some amazing talks/ articles to refer to including 15 new years resolutions from the prophets here and a lady who had done a good deed each day for an entire year here. i really enjoyed it and got so much out of it... and hope you can too. happy 2017 and good luck with your commitments ♥


NEW YEAR, NEW YOU!
A guide to new years commitments

What are some typical new years resolutions?
Exercise, lose weight, eat better, save money, take a trip, write in a journal, say daily prayers, study the scriptures, have 100% visiting teaching,

This time last year I made a commitment, not a resolution, because I wanted to treat it with a little more respect and not take it lightly in any way. I decided that I would attend the temple at least once a month and to make it through the book of Mormon again, but this time with this copy. I can honestly say that my life changed this year, for the better, when I made a promise to the Lord and did what I had committed to do. There is a quote by Napoleon Hill that sums it up perfectly. It says: "The moment you commit and quit holding back, all sorts of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, will rise up to help you. The simple act of commitment is a powerful magnet for help." Hence my suggestions of commitments – not resolutions.

Do you start out each new year with lots of plans to improve your life but, after a few weeks, lose your enthusiasm? If so, here are a few ideas to help you keep the best of your New Year’s resolutions:
Make realistic, attainable commitments, not wishy washy vague resolutions or intense efforts of  just trying to do too much too quickly. For example, if you are presently not reading your scriptures at all but your resolution is to read half an hour every day, you may be setting yourself up for failure. It may be more realistic to resolve just to read something, even if it is just a few verses, every day. After that becomes habit, then you can work on increasing your goal. You’re not going to lose 50kg in a month!

Set a series of smaller goals. Divide your big goal into smaller sections. Say, for instance, you want to save money. Instead of leaving your goal so vague, plan a reasonable amount to work toward in the first month, then a larger amount to have saved at the first quarter of the year. These smaller goals will keep you encouraged as you make progress.
Make reminders. After you decide the things you would like to work on, make several reminders for yourself. The old method of taping a sign on your mirror or somewhere where you will see it regularly might work. But if you usually ignore your signs, try something different. Sometimes simple things can work. Take the resolution to read your scriptures every day, for example. When you get out of bed in the morning, place your scriptures on your pillow. It will be difficult to say you forgot when you have to move them before going to bed.
Be kind to yourself. If you find you’ve made resolutions that are making you miserable, be willing to change them. After all, they are your resolutions. Sometimes you can resolve to do things that are really too big to handle. Instead of giving up as a failure, modify your goals so that they will be a true help and result in improvement.

We need to also ask ourselves a question when making our resolutions: is the decision I am making today, helping me get to where I want to be tomorrow?

Here are 15 goals from the prophets to help you centre your life on Christ during 2015.

1. Avoid contention
Today’s world—especially the online social media world—is fraught with arguments and differing opinions. Church members can emulate Christ by being peacemakers even when they disagree with others.
“On the subject of public discourse, we should all follow the gospel teachings to love our neighbour and avoid contention,” Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught. “Followers of Christ should be examples of civility. We should love all people, be good listeners, and show concern for their sincere beliefs. Though we may disagree, we should not be disagreeable. . . . We should be wise in explaining and pursuing our positions and in exercising our influence.”

2. Find more meaning in temple service
Now is a great time to recommit to meaningful temple worship. Elder Richard G. Scott taught, “Don’t let anyone or anything prevent you from being there. While you are in the temple, listen to the words of the ordinances, ponder them, pray about them, and seek to understand their meaning. The temple is one of the best places to come to understand the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Seek Him there. Remember that many more blessings come from providing your own family names in the temple.”

3. Take care of your body
Physical well-being is closely connected to mental, emotional and spiritual health.
“Take responsibility for your own physical well-being,” Elder Jörg Klebingat taught. “Feeding the spirit while neglecting the body, which is a temple, usually leads to spiritual dissonance and lowered self-esteem. If you are out of shape, if you are uncomfortable in your own body and can do something about it, then do it! … Please use good judgment in what and especially how much you eat, and regularly give your body the exercise it needs and deserves.

4. Learn more about the gospel
Before Church members can fully live the gospel, they must understand it. Elder M. Russell Ballard taught this important truth:
“In searching the scriptures and the words of past and current apostles and prophets, we should focus on studying, living, and loving the doctrine of Christ,” he taught. “In addition to developing the habit of personal scripture reading, we need to be like the sons of Mosiah and give ourselves ‘to much prayer, and fasting.’ It seems that these things which are not easily measured are of great importance. Stay focused on these simple things, and avoid becoming distracted.”

5. Be a better parent
Children are the future of our homes, the Church and the world. Therefore, the role of parents is of paramount importance.
“It is my firm conviction that there has never been a period in my many years of life when our Father in Heaven’s children have needed the guiding hand of faithful, devoted parents more,” Elder L. Tom Perry taught. “… We must find within ourselves that same determined spirit and overcome the challenges we face with the same spirit of sacrifice. We must instill in future generations an ever stronger reliance on the teachings of our Lord and Savior.”

6. Improve personal scripture study
Prophets have repeatedly counseled that scripture study is essential to gaining a testimony and maintaining the companionship of the Spirit.
“Don’t yield to Satan’s lie that you don’t have time to study the scriptures,” Elder Richard G. Scott taught. “Choose to take time to study them. Feasting on the word of God each day is more important than sleep, school, work, television shows, video games, or social media. You may need to reorganize your priorities to provide time for the study of the word of God. If so, do it!”

7. Serve someone every day
The small acts of service we offer may seem insignificant, but Elder Jeffery R. Holland taught that when we do what we can, our offering will make a difference.
“A journalist once questioned Mother Teresa of Calcutta about her hopeless task of rescuing the destitute in that city,” Elder Holland said. “He said that, statistically speaking, she was accomplishing absolutely nothing. This remarkable little woman shot back that her work was about love, not statistics. Notwithstanding the staggering number beyond her reach, she said she could keep the commandment to love God and her neighbor by serving those within her reach with whatever resources she had.”
(STORY)
An idea came to me one afternoon in late December. I had just completed a six-week challenge suggested by a magazine article on doing good deeds daily. Some of the author’s activities had included writing letters, calling people he had intended to telephone for a long time, taking someone a pie, a plant, or a small remembrance, praying for others, and sharing the joy of living. It was such a joyful experience that he challenged his readers to emulate his experience.
At the end of my six weeks I was absolutely ecstatic about all the good things that had happened. Then it hit me—why not make it a year-long adventure and commit myself to doing something good for someone every day? It intrigued me to think that at the end of the year I could have touched the lives of 365 people. And I could keep track of my successes or failures in my personal journal.
As the year began I could hardly wait for each new day. It seemed so easy to think of good things to do. For example, I could catch up on my correspondence and lend a helping hand to neighbors with small children.
I was doing well through February until one night, after a particularly exhausting day, I suddenly realized that I had not done one good deed. I couldn’t bring myself to record a failure, so I crawled out of bed and wrote a letter to a long-forgotten friend.
Not all of my good deeds were preplanned; some just happened.
I was able to touch other lives, too, through my Church callings. I had never before realized how tuned out I had been to the needs of those around me. I began to see those who were lonely, those who needed an arm around their shoulder, and those who needed something to spark a dull day.
April and May found me making little spring treats to take to “new” friends. My activities were developing a new dimension: not only was I touching those around me, but now I was reaching out to people I never knew before. I still felt the excitement of my resolution, but added to it now was a deeper, spiritual feeling that made me feel much closer to my Father in Heaven.
I came closer to my children, to. By September and October my resolution had become a daily habit. Oh, I was still human. Sometimes my heart was not fully in tune when I started out to visit someone ill or down, but I always came away with a strengthened testimony of doing good.
As the year has progressed, I have come to realize that charity is not always convenient, and that it sometimes takes much thought and planning. At first, I was proud of all the “good” I was doing, but as the year comes to an end, I am humbled to realize how selfish I have been all my life. As I left the home of the bedridden, or listened to frustrated teenagers, or climbed the hills with my children, I often thought of all the lives I could have touched in previous years if only I had taken the time. My one consolation is knowing that I can make a similar journey in this coming year, and in all the years ahead.

8. Have more meaningful prayer
Improving prayer habits can improve every facet of life. Elder Richard G. Scott taught, “Choose to converse with your Father in Heaven often. Make time every day to share your thoughts and feelings with Him. Tell Him everything that concerns you. He is interested in the most important as well as the most mundane facets of your life. Share with Him your full range of feelings and experiences.”

9. Increase your fast offering
When speaking about caring for the poor, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland asked Church members to be “as generous as circumstances permit” in their contributions.
“Cherish that sacred privilege [to fast] at least monthly, and be as generous as circumstances permit in your fast offering and other humanitarian, educational, and missionary contributions,” he said. “I promise that God will be generous to you, and those who find relief at your hand will call your name blessed forever.”
“Because the Atonement of Jesus Christ is very practical, you should apply it generously 24/7, for it never runs out.” —Elder Jörg Klebingat, Of the Seventy

10. Repent daily
Repentance has some negative connotations, but daily repentance helps disciples of Christ become closer to the Savior.
“Because the Atonement of Jesus Christ is very practical, you should apply it generously 24/7, for it never runs out,” Elder Jörg Klebingat said. “Embrace the Atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance as things that are to be welcomed and applied daily according to the Great Physician’s orders. Establish an attitude of ongoing, happy, joyful repentance by making it your lifestyle of choice. … Keeping your eyes on the Savior, care more about what He thinks of you, and let the consequences follow.”

11. Have Family Home Evening
As Church members strengthen their own testimonies, teaching family members gospel truths will increase their understanding and increase the influence of the Spirit in family members’ lives.
“Be cautious not to make your family home evening just an afterthought of a busy day,” Elder Richard G. Scott taught. “Decide that on Monday night your family will be together at home for the evening. Do not let employment demands, sports, extracurricular activities, homework, or anything else become more important than that time you spend together at home with your family. The structure of your evening is not as important as the time invested.”

12. Forgive quickly
People who forgive others relieve themselves of heavy burdens that decrease happiness. Immediate forgiveness increases joy and strengthens relationships.
“Forgive everyone, everything, all the time, or at least strive to do so, thus allowing forgiveness into your own life,” Elder Jörg Klebingat said. “Don’t hold grudges, don’t be easily offended, forgive and forget quickly, and don’t ever think that you are exempt from this commandment. Spiritual confidence increases when you know that the Lord knows that you bear no ill feelings toward another soul.”

13. Maintain a clear vision
As Church members set new goals and resolve to become better, it’s important to keep the end goal in mind. Elder Carlos A. Godoy taught this important principle: “Making decisions that can impact our lives and those we love without having the broader vision of their consequences can bring some risks. However, if we project the possible consequences of these decisions into the future, we can see with greater clarity the best path to take in the present. Understanding who we are, why we are here, and what the Lord expects from us in this life will help give us the broader vision we need. … We have the scriptures, the temple, living prophets, our patriarchal blessings, inspired leaders, and, above all, the right to receive personal revelation to guide our decisions.”

14. Evaluate yourself honestly
As people improve their lives and become more committed disciples, constant self-evaluation helps the process continue. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf gave this helpful formula for self-evaluation:
“[H]ow can we shine the pure light of God’s truth into our souls and see ourselves as He sees us? May I suggest that the holy scriptures and the talks given at general conference are an effective mirror we can hold up for self-examination. As you hear or read the words of the ancient and modern prophets, refrain from thinking about how the words apply to someone else and ask the simple question: ‘Lord, is it I?'”

15. Emulate Jesus Christ
The best goals and resolutions lead Church members toward Jesus Christ. President Thomas S. Monson taught, “As we strive to place Christ at the center of our lives by learning His words, by following His teachings, and by walking in His path, He has promised to share with us the eternal life that He died to gain. There is no higher end than this, that we should choose to accept His discipline and become His disciples and do His work throughout our lives. Nothing else, no other choice we make, can make of us what He can.”

If I may offer a few pieces of my own advice,
1.     A goal unwritten is simply a wish
2.     Tell someone else of your commitment, to make yourself responsible. If someone else knows, you’ll feel like you need to keep them updated, or they may ask you how it is going
3.     If at first you don’t succeed, try again and again and again and again, until you get it right
4.     Try starting something again that you have given up in the past. Who is to say that you won’t get it this time around?!
5.     Make goals that help not only you, but others around you. Ie. Take someone a meal once a month (this can help 12 families!), attend the temple, do your visiting teaching, another unsubtle hint sisters)
6.     Make yourself a one word resolution and focus on one particular thing: FAMILY, TEMPLE, LOVE, PEACE, the possibilities are endless.
7.     But most of all, make sure that your resolutions will build you a better life and bring your closer to your father in heaven.

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