I read something this last week that said anger is always a choice. No one "makes you angry," and "losing your temper" is also a deceiving phrase because it suggests there is no element of control when it comes to a temper. You can just "lose it." The mini lesson ended by challenging you to make the commitment "I will never get angry again." It was a lesson in a church manual for strengthening marriages and families and it caught me up short as I realized how impatient I can be and how quick I can get upset. Example A: Katie bug loves to wake up sometime at or before 6:00 am for her first feeding. So I try to feed her, eat breakfast, and walk the dog before Jeremy has to leave so I don't have to walk Katie in her stroller over the ice and snow still on the road and sidewalks. Sounds easy enough. I like to read my scriptures with breakfast so I get it done first thing in mornings. Well, sometimes Kate starts fussing, then crying, if I'm not holding her while I'm trying to eat and read (which is really fun when she starts to assist me with my cereal and scripture page turning), and then Pele starts howling at me and pawing me because she's ready to go on her walk. It's actually nice to have two souls so clamouring for your attention, nice to know you're so loved and needed, but some mornings it makes me crazy and I'm snapping at both of them because I couldn't even finish three verses. That's a little counter-productive when part of the scripture reading purpose is to help you feel a spirit of peace. And if I get upset that quickly first thing in the morning, you can imagine how the rest of the day goes. So back to this anger is a choice bit (my parents used to say that to me all the time, come to think of it). I have really been working on that this last week, choosing not to get angry, or even just being so impatient about the little things. President Monson's talk about joy in the journey plays into some of this when he talks about how you'll miss the piles of laundry and toys scattered everywhere. These moments do not last, and I think too often I wish them away by not appreciating what's going on. I can focus too much on tasks and checklists instead of life. Not being angry or frustrated, enjoying who and what I have around me, being happy, it's all a choice.
I also read a talk by Elder Scott from last April's conference and he mentions the choice of having a child-like faith in the Savior. That also made me think. Why not choose to believe? I'm so much happier when I do. Everything in this world tries to take you away from eternal truths by giving you temporary half-truths that cloud your vision of what eternally matters. It's easy to believe in a vague form of a supernal being, but to have faith in a Father in Heaven who sent us a personal Savior to pay the price for all of our mistakes, wrongdoings, even our heartaches sets you on a whole different course in life. It takes a child-like faith to continually follow and believe that. Not following blindly, but in loving faith that by following the counsels of God, He will bring you peace and joy in this life and the next. It's almost too simple to swallow in our intellectual, pain filled world. But that doesn't mean it's not true. So it comes down to a choice. Do I choose to have faith in a Savior? Do I choose to live as I believe? Do I choose to be angry, impatient, or frustrated? Or do I choose to be forgiving, patient, and look for the blessings around me? Then the real question, which choice would make me a happier person? To suddenly realize how many little choices I make daily that shape who I am and if I am happy or not is somewhat liberating. It's no longer circumstance or experience that determine my level of happiness. It's my response to those.