How do we best care for ourselves? Apparently the secret is to care for others.

This tidbit is something we learn constantly in Church and from reading scriptures. But for those who are ashamed to cite scripture or prophets, it is possible to now add the most popular class at Yale University as a source for this wisdom.

Coursera hosts Yale’s Psych 157: Psychology and the Good Life for free (if you want a certificate proving you took the course, you can get that for $49). The course was created by Professor Laurie Santos based on her concern about the stress and depression she saw among students. When I signed up for the course, I saw that there are over 3 million others taking the course now.

For those who are ashamed to cite anything but scripture or prophets, recall the admonition to “seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.”[ref]D&C 88:118[/ref]

If you’re wondering what you can do to help others, I highly recommend the video Gift of Time, which is part of the My Foundation course material in the Self Reliance workshops.

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About Meg Stout

Meg Stout has been an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ (of Latter-day Saints) for decades. She lives in the DC area with her husband, Bryan, and several daughters. She is an engineer by vocation and a writer by avocation. Meg is the author of Reluctant Polygamist, laying out the possibility that Joseph taught the acceptability of plural marriage but that Emma was right to assert she had been Joseph's only true wife.

11 thoughts on “Happiness

  1. I don’t think its that simple and it bothers me that “serve others” is the go-to response for everything. I just spent a year taking care of an aging parent with cancer. I was the primary caregiver and had almost no help. My parent could not walk for a while and required adult diapers and a wheel chair, etc. Every meal, bath, changing, cleaning up accidents, doctor’s appointments, treatment visits (surgery, chemo and radiation), all medications, cleaning, dressing, etc. fell to me. All this while I tried to keep a full time job. I was massively depressed and worn out. I am so mentally scarred, even now the very words “service” and “ministering” make my skin crawl. So no, I don’t think taking care of others makes your happy. Its more complicated than that.

  2. Meg! This is a post that sings with marvelous things. The video ‘Gift of Time’ is utter pricelessness. In its every word it is a gift of Light. This kind of spiritual wellness and implied direction for action makes it a gem; I love that African sister’s pure, plain, simple uttered heavenly intelligence.

    I am an Audio-visual Specialist for our California Anaheim East Stake, and I do all the AV showings for our stake’s Self Reliance Program Workshops. I am going to ask our Coordinators if we can routinely show Gift of Time. The idea gives me thrill.
    Thanks for helpful word to be heard, sister of incisive missive!

    P.S., this Thai video, ‘Unsung Hero’ is worth a moment: https://youtu.be/uaWA2GbcnJU

  3. The reason I added the “”Gift of Time” video is that I wanted to point out the need to be guided by God as we consider what is appropriate for us to do.

    There are those (including us, ourselves) who will pile us with demands far greater than can be borne. And we can be broken. But the God I worship will command good hearted men to stop before entering a burning building, because He knows that they will not be able to save the screaming people inside and will end up dead themselves. He will tell a battered wife that it is time to leave her husband. He will whisper that the greatest holy deed (sacrifice) you can do this particular afternoon is take a nap.

    And there are also times when He will give you the chance to give your whole self, even unto death, to save those you love.

    So unless we go to Him to verify our service is appropriate, we risk either giving too much or giving too little. Either way we end up poorer than Our God wishes us to be.

  4. Specifically to Anon, my mother died of cancer and at the end she was being cared for by a kaleidoscope of children, grand-children, and caregivers. It was hard, and at times her pain led her to act in a manner she regretted and we forgave. I can imagine how hard it would have been for that to go on for a year as effectively the sole caregiver.

    Much also depends on how your service was received, whether by the person you served or others. There are those who, whether intentionally or not, play games with us. I’ve seen that.

    I’ve had people tell me that, as God is their witness, they will never forgive me. I’ve been beaten by those who should have protected me. I’ve had people scream at me, spittle flinging, as they dressed me down in front of my peers. I’ve had a boss tell me something was my f*&@#ng fault in front of dozens of co-workers. A gunman came to the building where I work and killed 13 people, some of whom I knew, one a glass panel away from my desk.

    And then there’s the internet. My daughter refuses to google my name. My sister’s child, a transgender activist who was an ex-Mormon before we all became former Mormons, was shocked by things people were saying about me.

    And did I mention I have an autistic child who at times is delusional and accuses me of having kidnapped them at birth?

    I could focus on every thing that is bad and wrong and terrible. Or I could turn things around and focus on how blessed I am, for blessed I am. For example, I was at a conference the day the gunman riddled my building with bullets. None of those who battered me put me in the hospital (though I’m pleased a shattered eye orbit documents that the abuse occurred).

    In part that is because I make and keep appointments with my therapist when I have the mental equivalent of a cold or flu. And I have heroes like Joseph Smith and Joseph L. Heywood. And Bryan Stout. And my mom.

    And I have my God, who cradles me in His arms, telling me I am enough, setting me on impossible quests (writing about my ancestors who practiced plural marriage, for instance). And the God I worship will heal every wound and dry every tear, will turn all ashes to beauty and all sorrows to joy.

  5. LOL – we are all former Mormons, because our prophet asked us to step away from that name and embrace the name of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.

  6. In an interview, a bishop once told me that every person has ‘problems.’ I knew his drift — he was speaking of crises, crushing cruelties, awfulness in endless varieties.

    Anon, I’m so sorry about yours. Someone failed you—a RS Visiting Teacher, Home Teacher, friends—all who could have known and given some kind of long term help.

    I was raised in a violent home. Sex abuse and mental rape by my mother, violence from father. It bequeathed me with a near-lifetime of hard, painful work to heal and straighten out. When I became a member of our Faith in college, I thought baptism would just wipe my psyche clean; I was a little mistaken. So I lived, burned, churned, and learned.
    At 64, I am grateful that I was given a bumpy road with a load. I remember Elder Neal A. Maxwell said in a 1974 Rick’s devotional, “Brothers and sisters, we cannot expect life to be a first class experience unless we have had some first class challenges.”

  7. I can’t tell you all how great it is to read about your experiences. I have been spared most of the trials you mention, but I have others. It is a great comfort to read your faith-filled words, Meg, and to know how God has carried you. And Glen, I appreciate your words. Anon, I have only recently started seeing the searing burdens that people around me bear (I just got a new calling that puts me in the know in my ward). I grieve for your pain, and I hope that I will be in tune enough to see the needs around me so that others can find respite in my service.

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