When you focus on what you don’t have or on situations that displease you, your mind also becomes darkened. You take for granted life, salvation, sunshine, flowers, and countless other gifts from Me. You look for what is wrong and refuse to enjoy life until that is “fixed.”
One of the most powerful sources of personal development will come through the urgent prayers you offer in faith for a foundation of righteousness. You will learn much as feelings distill in your mind and heart. Avoid prayers that appear to be a set of instructions to the Lord--do this, bless that, change this, help me with that. Rather, be a compliant student to the Ultimate Teacher. He wants you to succeed even more than you do yourself.
This is a time to set your course for life, a time to establish fundamental priorities. One of the challenges of your learning experience here is to be able to differentiate among the smorgasbord of good and bad things that can be done and to select those that are righteous and truly essential.
Do not be just a spectator or a critic. You didn’t do that in the premortal realm. You weren’t neutral then. You stood firm. Do not allow the very voices who cry for tolerance to not tolerate you or your view. This is the arena where all that you defended and chose then is taking place now. Do not get tired or distracted or disqualified! Be willing to step out of your comfort zones and “press forward with . . . a perfect brightness of hope” (2 Nephi 31:20).
Today, with the abundance of books available, it is the mark of a truly educated man to know what not to read. … Feed only on the best. As John Wesley’s mother counseled him: ‘Avoid whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, takes off your relish for spiritual things, … increases the authority of the body over the mind.
You might expect that if you spent such an extended period in twelve different households, what you would gather is twelve different ideas about how to raise children: there would be the strict parents and the lax parents and the hyperinvolved parents and the mellow parents and on and on. What Lareau found, however, is something much different. There were only two parenting "philosophies," and they divided almost perfectly along class lines. The wealthier parents raised their kids one way, and the poorer parents raised their kids another way.
The wealthier parents were heavily involved in their children's free time, shuttling them from one activity to the next, quizzing them about their teachers and coaches and teammates... That kind of intensive scheduling was almost entirely absent from the lives of the poor children. (In the poor children's lives) what a child did was considered by his or her parents as something seperate from the adult world and not particularly consequentential.
Lareau calls the middle-class parenting style "concerned cultivation." It's an attempt to actively "foster and assess a child's talents, opinions and skills." Poor parents tend to follow, by contrast, a strategy of "accomplishment of natural growth." They see it as their responsibility to care for their children, but to let them grow and develop on their own.
Lareau stresses that one style isn't morally better than the other. The poorer children were, to her mind, often better behaved, less whiny, more creative in making use of their own time, and had a well-developed sense of independence. But in practical terms, concerted cultivation has enormous advantages. The heavily scheduled middle-class child is exposed to a constantly shifting set of experiences. She learns teamwork and how to cope in highly structured settings. She is taught how to interact comfortably with adults, and to speak up when she needs to....
By contrast the working-class and poor children were characterized by "an emerging sense of distance, distrust, and constraint.
We become masters of our lives in the same way—by focusing on first things first. We all have a pretty good idea of the most important decisions we need to make—decisions that will improve our lives and bring us greater happiness and peace. That is where we should start. That is where we should place our greatest effort.
Each night before I go to bed, I take out a small card and write a list of the things I need to do the next day in order of their priority.
When I arrive at the office in the morning, I check my card and put all my efforts into the first item on the list. When I accomplish that item, I move on to the second and so on. Some days, I finish every item on my list. On other days, some tasks are not completed. I don't become discouraged, however, because I'm focusing my energies on the things that matter most.
You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.
Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.
That we do a lot may not be so important. That we focus the energy of our minds, our hearts, and our souls on those things of eternal significance--that is essential.