I've been thinking a lot about the power of why. Often in life what we need to do, or feel we need to do, feels burdensome, and it becomes easy to feel disenchanted or overwhelmed in life. Things that should matter become mundane and it is natural for these things to bring about feelings of resentment. For me the last year, I had so many things on my plate this is how I began to feel about a lot of things, even things that used to bring me joy, energy, and purpose. It was exhausting and unfulfilling. But recently I have heard a lot of people discuss the principle of "why", and it has brought a fresh perspective on life. Rather than focusing on what I had to do and how I was going to do it, these experiences helped me focus on why I was doing it. By thinking about the why first, one of two things happened:
1) I realized that what I was doing wasn't important, that the why wasn't valid enough to justify my time or efforts
or2) I remembered the value of what I was doing, giving me renewed energy and excitement in completing or continuing the task
This exercise helped me free up a lot of my time for things that did matter, and in addition, increased my resolve and enjoyment in doing the things that did matter.
Elder Bednar gave a devotional talk about the power of understanding "why" we do things. He states:
"It concerns me as I see young people in our Church who know all the correct things they should do and do not have a clue as to why. They have a check-list mentality. "Say my prayers morning and night. Read the scriptures." Why do they do these things? "Because I am supposed to. Because the prophet said. Because my mom and dad will jump my case if I don't." May I suggest that each of these activities is related to the doctrine of revelation. We pray every morning in a meaningful way to invite the companionship of the Holy Ghost. At the end of the day we report and give an account of our stewardship in our evening prayer. We express gratitude for the companionship of the Spirit and the direction we received. We also study the scriptures daily to feast upon the words of Christ, to again invite the Spirit, and to receive instruction and direction. These things are related to the doctrine of receiving revelation. But do we do these things without an understanding of what they are linked to doctrinally? Do we understand why? If we do not understand the why, then the power available to us through the doctrine of Christ will not be evident in our lives."
This relates well to a talk I heard in church last week. The speaker was talking about Alma 32, a chapter where Alma teaches some people about faith. As he related the sermon that Alma taught, he pointed out the four steps to conversion: humility, knowledge, faith, and tasting the fruit of faith. This last step really stood out to me. In Alma 32:42 it says:
"And because of your diligence and your faith and your patience with the word in nourishing it, that it may take root in you, behold, by and by ye shall pluck the fruit thereof, which is most precious, which is sweet above all that is sweet, and which is white above all that is white, yea, and pure above all that is pure; and ye shall feast upon this fruit even until ye are filled, that ye hunger not, neither shall ye thirst."
This is a step I often forget about. I read my scriptures, I go to church, I serve others, I spend quality time with family, I take time to be prepared at my job, heck, I even go to the gym from time to time. But none of this will remain important to me if I never take the time to taste the fruit of these labors. How crazy would it be to go out and spend months of time getting soil ready, picking out good seeds, planting, weeding, watering, pruning, and finally, producing fantastic fruit, but never pick and eat it? Yet I was doing it all the time. And because of that, all that hard work felt worthless and made me question the process and even worse, the seeds. But it wasn't the task or the execution of the task that was off, it was the fact that I never took the time to reflect on what had come out of it. To tie it in to the power of why, I was losing out on remembering or appreciating the why because I wasn't taking the time to taste the fruit.
So, my new mantra this year is "why am I doing this", and hopefully, it will make for a far more rejuvenating and effective year. And in addition to focusing on the why, I will make sure I take the time to taste the fruit and reaffirm the why, so I don't lose sight of the power of why again.