President Dieter F. Uchtdorf shared these questions in one of his talks from the latest General Conference. I think they are a great way to reflect on life as we enter into a new year. I hope you take the questions that he asked and the commentary in between the questions (that I wrote) and make your new year the best year yet.
**Author’s Note: This post appeared originally on Happy Mormons.
1. “Does my life have meaning?”
So often we get stuck in the daily minutia and never stop to ask ourselves this question. Do we really believe we are doing something that is meaningful? Are we working towards something that is bigger than ourselves? Is the majority of our time invested in that which is meaningful or that which will pass away? Research shows that those who invest in projects, organizations and efforts that help a greater purpose, are happier and more fulfilled in life. Scriptures also state the importance of not spending our time on that which is of no worth. If you feel like you need a refresher on this, maybe take time to read the book How Will You Measure Your Life by Clayton Christensen or you can check out my book on how to discover and live your unique life mission.
2. “Do I believe in God?”
This may seem like such a basic question for many Latter-day Saints, but it is much more profound than it seems. True, profound belief in God shapes our character and molds our destiny. If you find yourself saying “Of course I believe in God, I always have” then also ask yourself “How am I expressing my belief in God on a daily basis?” How does your belief in God shape you as a person?
Personally, I haven’t always been able to give that knee jerk LDS answer of “Yes I do believe in God” and in the seeking to know if I really do believe in Him, I have been strengthened in my resolve. The expression of my belief in Him has become more meaningful, and life becomes more rich. Outside the scriptures, here are three books that have helped me to strengthen my belief in God:
3. Do I believe that God knows and loves me?
If you believe in God, what is your relationship with Him? Is He known to you? I love the lyrics of this song by a non-LDS Christian A Cappella group that talks about painting a picture of Jesus:
paint me a picture of Jesus
paint me a picture of the Lord
paint me a picture of Jesus
paint me a picture of love
Well you can see it when your out on the sidewalk
And on the walls of the street every day
Some use the backs of their cars for their God talk
But put on canvas, I wonder what it’d portray
Your love in return, could you say that you’ve shown it
Could you honestly tell me this was someone you knew?
But in the light of salvation have you shown it?
If it came down to friendship, tell me could he paint you?
Some of our pictures will differ and it’s well that they do
For each one is a piece and a reflection of truth
Some may think they’ve beheld Him but they’ll miss on the art
But if you want the Masterpiece you must give Him your heart [1. The group is called Rescue. Listen to the song here.]
4. Do I believe that God hears and answers my prayers?
Prayer is powerful. Prayer changes lives. It has changed my life. The best times of my life have been full of prayer. Here are some of my favorite quotes about prayer:
“Let us never forget to pray. God lives. He is near. He is real. He is not only aware of us, but cares for us. He is our father. He is accessible to all who seek him.” – Gordon B. Hinckley
“If you only pray when you’re in trouble…you’re in trouble.” – Anonymous
“For prayer is nothing else than being on terms of friendship with God.” – Saint Teresa of Avila
Think about God like He is your friend, because He is. He will be the best friend you’ll ever have if you take time to develop your friendship with Him. Let’s improve our friendship with God this year.
5. Am I truly happy?
I believe happiness is the joy we feel as we work toward our potential. From both a religious perspective and a secular perspective, I think happiness is worthy of our effort. Most people desire to be happier, but don’t know exactly how to make that happen. I believe that God is a God of joy. Not only does God weep when we suffer, but He rejoices when we are truly happy. As seen in this scripture, I believe God’s nature is the nature of happiness:
“…All men that are in a state of nature, or I would say, in a carnal state, are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity; they are without God in the world, and they have gone contrary to the nature of God; therefore, they are in a state contrary to the nature of happiness.” [2. Alma 41:11]
Happiness is His nature. God’s life is a happy life. And as we are happy, so is He. I love this passage from The God Who Weeps, by Terryl and Fiona Givens:
“God’s desire, so manifest in the texture of the created order, is to enlarge the sphere of human joy, and we discover the marvelous truth that our joy is His joy. What greater motivation could there be for us to seek out and secure our own, our friends’, our families’ happiness, than to know that it adds to His.” [3. See page 37]
I also believe that we should learn all we can about how to be as happy as we can as humans. I study the science of human happiness (positive psychology) and am passionate about helping people to understand how they can increase their happiness. Stay tuned for more articles about the science of happiness and positive psychology and feel free to tune into my Periscope channel here: periscope.tv/andyproctor. Of if you want to get started now on learning more, read this book: The How of Happiness.
6. Are my efforts leading me to the highest spiritual goals and values in life?
What an important thing to consider as we move forward into the new year. I will leave you with one last quote that has helped me keep this in perspective:
“Someday, when we look back on mortality, we will see that so many of the things that seemed to matter so much at the moment, will be seen not to have mattered at all. And the eternal things will be seen to have mattered even more than the most faithful of the Saints imagined.” – Elder Neal A. Maxwell [4. Neal A. Maxwell, Even As I Am, 1982, 104]