Today I am having what I refer to as a personal (and healthy) “senior citizen introspection.” I am 74 years old, relatively healthy, comfortably retired, and my eyes are wide open. My mind is clear, and I have time to think! Life has been good to me, and I am a happy man! But I have recently been thinking more deeply about who I am and what I should be doing with my life now, today.
As individuals, I believe we should periodically evaluate our personal behaviors and activities and ask ourselves, “…how am I doing?” We should do these personal performance interviews or reviews with ourselves regularly. It is good to evaluate how we are doing and hold ourselves accountable. Of course, these would be unique interviews/reviews. Each would be a personal and private interview about who we are, who we want to be, how we are doing, what we should be doing, and perhaps what we need to change.
My interviews are probably vastly different than yours. I am retired now and have been struggling a little lately with my daily accomplishments and my self esteem. I am healthy in mind and body. But I tend to live from day to day or week to week, and sometimes I wonder: “What should I focus on? What is important? What can I do that is meaningful? What should I be doing?” Of course, our answers to these questions will be different for each one of us. Frankly, we know ourselves better than anyone else may know us. So, having a personal and private interview with ourselves is best. And, we need to be honest! To help in this process, I like to ask myself the following five simple questions (or something similar to these):
- “How am I showing my Love for God?”
- “How do I Minister and show Love to others?”
- “Do I faithfully administer my stewardship duties?”
- “What am I doing that I should STOP doing?”
- “What am I NOT doing that I should START doing?”
These are general but very personal questions. I ask them of myself; and, I answer them for myself.
I have always tried to keep busy doing what I think is meaningful. But a few years ago, I came across the following quote from President George Albert Smith (1870-1951). As I read and pondered about his comment, it occurred to me that I must do more …I want to do more!
“We are not here to while away the hours of this life and then pass to a sphere of exaltation, but we are here to qualify ourselves day by day for the positions that our Father expects us to fill hereafter.” (President George Albert Smith)
I have thought about this quote many times. It helps me focus more clearly on what is essential and meaningful. And, it gives me a greater appreciation for time and the value of each new day. The available time is a unique gift full of opportunities! Whether or not I take advantage of that “gift” is up to me. Throughout life, some sorrow and sadness may inevitably occur. I may have regrets. But, I shouldn’t dwell on my regrets. If I focus on what is important and essential, I am optimistic. I will find joy, great memories, and happiness. I may not always find opportunities and blessings, but they will come! Each day is a new “TODAY” … and I have Hope. Today is now, and it is what we have! It is the critical and decisive moment!
“One of the illusions of life is that the present hour is not the critical, decisive hour. Write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year. He only is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day who allows it to be invaded with worry, fret, and anxiety. Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense. This day is all that is good and fair. It is too dear, with its hopes and invitations, to waste a moment on yesterdays.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
So, what should I/we be doing “TODAY?” Our Prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, gave this wise counsel: “Pray to know what to STOP doing and what to START doing. Pray to know what to ADD to your environment and what to REMOVE so the Spirit can be with you in abundance.” On another occasion, he added, “…every day we should ask ourselves, ‘How can we better live as Jesus Christ taught and lived?’”
President Nelson has also given this important advice: “…one of the most important things we need to learn in life is to know who we really are. We have been created for a purpose. Learn of your divine purpose and then live up to it. … I promise you that when you begin to catch even a glimpse of how your Heavenly Father sees you and what He is counting on you to do for Him, your life will never be the same!”
We should align ourselves with The Doctrine of Christ
As a retired man with “time and freedom,” I often think about what I am doing …or should be doing. The five questions I mentioned at the start of this post help me redirect my life for good. But to be honest, I am still a work in progress. Regardless, one thing I do know for certainty: To enjoy true happiness in this life and the Fullness of Joy in the Worlds to Come, we must learn and follow our Heavenly Father’s “Plan of Salvation,” and “the Doctrine of Christ” (see the Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 31:17-21). That is what we all should be doing! Simply stated, we should be striving to be more like our Savior, more Christlike! We should follow His example and His teachings, “keep the commandments of God” (as best we understand them), honor our “Sacred Covenants,” and align ourselves with His ordained leaders, “the Brethren” (the Apostles and Prophets).
We should Pray and Seek Inspiration
We should also pray often to the Father and ask for forgiveness and guidance in this life. (He genuinely loves us and will answer our sincere prayers.) And we should seek (through obedience to His Commandments) to be worthy of the constant companionship of the Holy Spirit (the Holy Ghost) in our lives. In our prayers, and throughout each day, we should listen carefully to hear the promptings of “the still small voice” of the Holy Spirit. We should try to clearly recognize His whisperings and promptings, learn to rely on His influence, and follow His guidance. (For more insight into personal prayer, please see the Note at the bottom of this post.)
Concerning our relationship with the Holy Ghost and His influence in our lives, President Nelson has given this advice:
“. . .in coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost. I urge you to stretch beyond your current spiritual ability to receive personal revelation. Choose to do the spiritual work required to enjoy the gift of the Holy Ghost and hear the voice of the Spirit more frequently and more clearly.”
In this life, with the many challenges we have concerning “what is the truth,” “what is right,” and even “what we should do,” the Holy Ghost is our friend. He is “the Revelator,” “the Comforter,” and “the Holy Spirit of Truth.” His primary mission is to reveal the truth and bear testimony of God the Father and His Only Begotten Son, Jesus the Christ. However, if we are worthy and seek His influence, He will also influence and guide us each day as we strive to live as God would have us live. And, He will help us know “what we should be doing!” We should seek His guiding influence in our lives. And I sincerely believe He should become our “Best Friend!”
We should Learn of Jesus Christ and try to be Like Him
Jesus the Christ is the Holy One of Israel. He is the Beloved Son of God the Eternal Father and the only begotten Son of God in the flesh. As prophesied and recorded in the Holy Scriptures, He came to Earth to fulfill His Father’s Great Plan of Salvation to redeem all mankind from sin and death. Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. Because of Him, we can be redeemed and gain Eternal Life with God, the greatest of all gifts (Doctrine and Covenants 14:7). All He asks is that we learn of Him, have Faith in Him, repent of our sins, follow His example, and keep His commandments. He has promised that if we follow Him and keep His commandments, we will have joy in this life and Eternal Happiness in the Worlds to come.
So, “What Should I Be Doing?” I know there is much that must be done. But, spiritually speaking (and I believe this is important), I should be learning of Jesus Christ and trying to be like Him. As I learn of Christ, I should follow His examples and teachings; and, I should seek to be guided by the Holy Spirit. This is all part of the Great and Eternal Plan of Salvation and Happiness. The essence of this true principle is simply taught in the following children’s song about Jesus (performed by The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square):
(Please Note: If you would like to read more concerning a personal perspective and tips for “a meaningful prayer,” please click on the following link and see the post Pray unto the Father.)
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