Latter-day Saint Life

Mastering Optimism in 3 Easy Steps


What a powerful moment from this article: "There was a time in my life when I complained about every difficulty and thought I had it much tougher than others. Then I was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer, a disease for which there is no cure, and realized that I did not want to spend the rest of my days being ungrateful for every breath."

“Kids are the worst!”

This phrase has become a family joke, used to diffuse frustrations in parenting. Most often, it’s in response to a child’s mischief of one kind or another. For example, my brother might call to moan that he hasn’t slept in nearly two years, since his daughter was born. I might respond, “I hear you,” followed by, “Kids are the worst!” (For the record, I love my children and do not truly believe they are the worst.) The joke has helped put tough parenting moments in perspective. Made in complete jest, it gets a good laugh and helps remind us that no parent has perfect days. Let’s face it; there are moments when “the only way to get through life is to laugh your way through it…[because] crying [will give you] a headache” (Quoted in Virginia H. Pearce, Glimpses into the Life and Heart of Marjorie Pay Hinckley (1999), 107).

Light-hearted banter about life’s difficulties is one thing, but constantly complaining is no laughing matter. It’s human nature to criticize, grumble, find fault, and murmur. When we seem more likely to “mourn, or think our lot is hard,” how do we begin to see that “all is well" ("Come, Come, Ye Saints," Hymns, no. 30, verse 2)? How do we “refuse to remain in the realm of negative thought and cultivate within our hearts an attitude of gratitude” (Thomas S. Monson, “An Attitude of Gratitude,” April 1992)? Develop gratitude, and you become more optimistic.

As challenging as it can be to become more grateful and optimistic, it is something we must master. “As disciples of Christ, we are commanded to ‘thank the Lord [our] God in all things,’ to ‘sing unto the Lord with thanksgiving,’ and to ‘let [our] heart be full of thanks unto God’” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Grateful in Any Circumstances,” Ensign, May 2014). In addition, scriptures instruct, “be of good cheer,” and “in every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God.” There is little question that being grateful is a commandment, so why might God ask us to cultivate gratitude?

Lead image from Getty Images.
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