I'm still taking time, among the busy doing, doing, doing, of my life - to ruminate on the things that are important to me and the reasons behind them.
I'd like to share with you a few excerpts from a talk that had great impact on me by Dieter F. Uchdtdorf, a man I greatly admire. He was speaking to the women's organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in 2008 about finding happiness. His words resonated deeply with my own sense of purpose and I'd like to share some of them with you. Bear with me as this does delve into the religious part of my life - my faith is deeply central to everything I do. I share them because I think these truths are universal.
To All Who Are Weary
"Today I would like to speak to those who have ever felt inadequate, discouraged, or weary—in short, I would like to speak to all of us. We know that sometimes it can be difficult to keep our heads above water. In fact, in our world of change, challenges, and checklists, sometimes it can seem nearly impossible to avoid feeling overwhelmed by emotions of suffering and sorrow.
I am not suggesting that we can simply flip a switch and stop the negative feelings that distress us. I am not suggesting that we can simply flip a switch and stop the negative feelings that distress us. This isn’t a pep talk or an attempt to encourage those sinking in quicksand to imagine instead they are relaxing on a beach. I recognize that in all of our lives there are real concerns. I know there are hearts here today that harbor deep sorrows. Others wrestle with fears that trouble the soul. For some, loneliness is their secret trial. These things are not insignificant.
However, I would like to speak about two principles that may help you find a path to peace, hope, and joy—even during times of trial and distress."
Elder Uchdtdorf then goes on to talk about how the greatest kind of happiness is God's happiness, and that although we cannot fully understand God during this mortal existence, that we do know he is a God of "creation and compassion." I love this next part.
The Work of Creation
"The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before. Everyone can create. You don’t need money, position, or influence in order to create something of substance or beauty.
Creation brings deep satisfaction and fulfillment. We develop ourselves and others when we take unorganized matter into our hands and mold it into something of beauty—and I am not talking about the process of cleaning the rooms of your teenage children.
You might say, “I’m not the creative type. When I sing, I’m always half a tone above or below the note. I cannot draw a line without a ruler. And the only practical use for my homemade bread is as a paperweight or as a doorstop." If that is how you feel, think again, and remember that you are spirit daughters of the most creative Being in the universe.
But to what end were we created? We were created with the express purpose and potential of experiencing a fulness of joy. Our birthright—and the purpose of our great voyage on this earth—is to seek and experience eternal happiness. One of the ways we find this is by creating things.
You may think you don’t have talents, but that is a false assumption, for we all have talents and gifts, every one of us. 5 The bounds of creativity extend far beyond the limits of a canvas or a sheet of paper and do not require a brush, a pen, or the keys of a piano. Creation means bringing into existence something that did not exist before—colorful gardens, harmonious homes, family memories, flowing laughter.
What you create doesn’t have to be perfect. So what if the eggs are greasy or the toast is burned? Don’t let fear of failure discourage you. Don’t let the voice of critics paralyze you—whether that voice comes from the outside or the inside.
If you still feel incapable of creating, start small. Try to see how many smiles you can create, write a letter of appreciation, learn a new skill, identify a space and beautify it."
He goes on to talk about how compassion can also bring us joy - but I'll stop there. He's voicing what I already deeply believe to be true. Each of us has gifts. It will bring us joy if we find them, develop them and use them well, especially with compassion and in the service of others. We each have the potential and responsibility to make this world a better place in any way we can.
You can listen to or read the full talk here.