Sunday, November 2, 2014


What are you passionate about? What do you most want to do for a living?


I don't know


That is the truth of it. I don't know. It feels so empty and hollow when I put it that way. Do you feel the same way too? I know there must be others out there. Especially recent graduates in their 20's like me.

"My entire life I have done what everyone has told me I should do. From kindergarten to my senior year of college I had a high GPA, I volunteered, I played sports, I was in groups, extracurricular activities, student council. I did all that stuff. I was checking off the boxes in order to become a successful American." - Charlie Hoehn on the NPR Ted Radio Hour

"Being in your 20's can kind of suck because up to that point your whole life has been mapped out. High school then maybe college and then you're 22 or 23 and you're out. The safety net is gone. And the world is like, 'Go figure it out'"- Guy Raz on the NPR TED Radio Hour
Do these quotes sound familiar to the situation that you're in? They do to me. I am a college graduate and I have my first full-time job. I am fortunate. I have now accomplished all that I was supposed to do. I checked those boxes. Now what?

My job is good but it's not something I want to be doing for the rest of my life. But when I think about what I want to be doing for the rest of my life, at least in terms of a profession, I am at a loss. I have no idea what I want to do and that fact is really starting to bother me. I feel directionless. Well not completely directionless. There are many opportunities and different interests for me and I could have a good career in many fields. But am I not supposed to only pursue the one I am passionate about? At least that is what all the videos and articles tell me to do. Right?

Recently I was talking with a girl who had passion and direction. It radiated from her as she spoke of it. It was beautiful. I was captivated and jealous. Eventually she asked me what I was passionate about and I had no response. Instantly I felt inferior as if something was wrong with me. I wanted to be like her but deep down I knew I wasn't, which is why the following quote really resonates with me.

"We keep telling people to follow their passion and I feel like that can be an intimidating and almost cruel thing to say to people at times because first of all if somebody has one central powerful burning passion, they're probably already following it because that is sort of the definition of passion is that you don't have a choice. If you don't, which is a lot of people, have one central burning passion and somebody tells you to follow your passion, I think you have the right to give them the finger. Because it just makes you feel worse. And so I always say to people if you don't have an obvious passion to forget about it. Follow your curiosity because passion is sort of a tower flame that is not always accessible and curiosity is something that anybody can access any day. Your curiosity may lead  you to your passion or it may not. It may have been for 'nothing', in which case all you have done your entire life is spend your existence in pursuit of the things that made you feel curious and inspired and that should be good enough. If you get to do that, that is a wonderful way to have spent your time here." -Elizabeth Gilbert on the NPR TED Radio Hour

So why should I worry about what my passion is? Not knowing my passion shouldn't be a tragedy. Maybe some people are born with the gift of passion and others are born with the gift of...something else. I choose to be fine with that something else...whatever it is. I know I am not the only one with the same predicament. I know there are other dispassionate people out there. Maybe I could have stated that last sentence to sound more inspiring.

But like Elizabeth Gilbert said, "follow your curiosities." Don't be afraid to learn about new things or simply try out something new. Don't let your fear of the unknown or the fear of not having a passion make you be idle. Don't wait until your passion suddenly just slaps you across the face. It won't. It doesn't come to us like the ring came to Sméagol instantly consuming his life. "It came to me, my own, my love, my precious." The longer you sit there watching Netflix naively hoping passion will come, the more likely you will never find it. So at the very least go out there and do something, even if it's only pursuing a passing interest. Maybe in the pursuit of those mere curiosities you find something that truly inspires you and gives you passion.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Faith and Doubt

"Remember that faith and doubt cannot exist in the same mind at the same time. Cast out doubt. Cultivate Faith." - President Monson Oct 2000

"Doubt not" - D&C 6:6

"Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith" - President Uchtdorf Oct 2013

I have heard similar sayings all my life. Once embroidered hanging on the wall at a friends house, now they appear against beautiful backdrops on my friends Facebook wall. Isn't it great? Actually it's not great. I can't stand these quotes. I get so annoyed whenever I see or hear them. But I can't outwardly express the anger I feel because I shouldn't be bothered by quotes from scripture and the prophets. Why don't I like these quotes about doubt and why do they bother me so much? As I have thought about why this bothers me I have found two main reasons.

         1. They don't agree with my personal understanding of the relationship between doubt and faith
         2. I identify myself as a doubter

In my first year of Seminary at Bennion Jr. High we had a class about faith. This class was memorable because we got to watch part of a movie and not just one of those cheesy church movies. We got to watch Indiana Jones. It was awesome. We watched a scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. In this scene Indiana is forced to go through a series of tests/traps to get to the Holy Grail, which has the power to save his recently shot father. In cinematic fashion he gets past the first two tests narrowly escaping with his life each time. He now reaches a chasm that he must cross but there is no bridge. The only instruction that he has is that he must take a leap of faith. With nothing but an endless fall in front of him, he puts his foot out and takes a leap of faith into what is most certainly his death. To Indiana's great relief he finds his foot lands on solid ground on a bridge that was invisible from the perspective of where he previously stood.

In the moment of decision, Indiana was visibly terrified. He had his reasons to doubt and be afraid. It was an endless pit he was stepping into for heaven's sake. And not the cool pits where you can fight a Balrog on the way down. He had good reason to believe he would fall to his death and he took that step anyway. That's gutsy. It was in the face of that doubt that he truly exercised faith. If the bridge was obvious, it wouldn't have been a leap of faith, right? In other words, it's because of doubt and uncertainty, that faith can exist. That is how I've understood the relationship between doubt and faith since that lesson when I was 14 and the quotes I shared earlier just didn't seem to mesh with that understanding. It seemed as if doubt was the bad guy and that those who doubted were somehow less faithful and righteous.

Which brings me to my second point. I am a doubter. Over the past few years I have faced some experiences that have made me question the core foundations of my testimony, I have witnessed some of my best friends leave the church, and I have come to realize that I simply don't know. I don't know if God exists but I hope He does and if so, I believe He loves me and you. I don't know if this is God's true church but I have found that following its core principles has helped lead me to higher forms of happiness. I don't know a good deal of many things... but that is fine. I don't need to know everything. These very statements and ideas have taken me years to personally accept and feel comfortable stating. During this time I have felt as if I was less worthy or that I was somehow different. I have feared that my testimony or lack thereof would negatively affect my relationship with my family, friends, and future love interests. It was because of the perceived negative rapport about doubt that made this faith transition harder. That is why I haven't liked these quotes. It made me feel ostracized. Well the truth is, there are more people like me than I may realized.

So is doubt a bad thing? Yes and no. What doubt does for us is it challenges us, makes us ask questions, and enables us to trust and have faith. These challenges force us to grow and the questions can direct us to truth. Doubt made Indiana realize he loved and trusted his father more than what his senses told him. After all, his father had been right up to that point. Doubt made Indiana put faith in his father.

However, doubt can do exactly the opposite. It can pose challenges and questions so daunting that we simply give up. Doubt causes us to not trust and not have faith. Indiana could have turned around. He could have not taken that step and he would have never found the holy grail and saved his father. He would have missed so much. The same goes for us. When we doubt we don't apply for that job, ask that person on a date, or we don't run that race. Doubt hinders our progression. Doubt is paralyzing. Doubt is only bad when it overcomes faith. That is why we must rely on faith. At some point we must take that step into the abyss. Of course if you doubt your parachute is not properly packed, taking that step might not be a good idea.

Doubt is a wonderful thing. I love it. It's brought me to many truths. However, I can't let doubt paralyze me. At some point I have to exercise faith in the face of doubt. I must progress. I must move past my fears and doubts and learn to trust in myself and in God so that when the grey rain curtain of this world rolls back I will see white shores, and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise.

"I have sympathy for the man or woman when honest doubts enter their minds and they engage in the great conflict of resolving doubts. These doubts can be resolved, if they have an honest desire to know the truth, by exercising moral, spiritual, and mental effort. They will emerge from the conflict into a firmer, stronger, larger faith because of the struggle. They have gone from a simple trusting faith, through doubt and conflict, into a solid substantial faith which ripens into testimony." Howard W Hunter Oct 1960

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Jekyll and Hyde

Growing up my knowledge of the story of Jekyll and Hyde was very limited. I was familiar with the book on the most basic concept. I knew a person changed from being normal to being a monster. That was it. I thought Jekyll was the monster because the name Jekyll sounded more menacing than the name Hyde(which is wrong by the way). My main source of knowledge came from the PBS TV show Arthur. I strongly urge you to watch the clip because it is one of the best few minutes of television.

 I was grossly unaware of the whole story. For a summary please read the plot overview. I tried making my own synopsis...but spark notes already did it for me. If you're not familiar with the book take 10 min to read the summary. Spoiler alert. Jekyll turns into Hyde.

Personally I am fascinated with people's motives, their stories, and their rationales behind their actions. So hearing from Dr. Jekyll the story of how he came to die and be overpowered by Mr. Hyde is very intriguing. To me, it offers a glimpse into aspects of life that I think many of struggle with. I see a relationship in this story to my own life and to some extent, I think this story sheds light on universal truth about human nature. 

Most of us have desires to do things we know that we shouldn't do or at least we would be ashamed to do publicly. I think we all want to be good people but there are those times when we want the opposite. We want to have some fun, give in to our passions and lusts, and take advantage of others. 

Sometimes we give into these desires and give life to our alter egos. If we give in enough to these desires, eventually they will become stronger and overtake us like Mr. Hyde overtook Dr. Jekyll. 

One great enabler behind Dr Jekyll turning into Mr. Hyde was that he was able to dissociate the actions of Mr. Hyde from the publicly virtuous life of Dr. Jekyll. He thought by physically separating the two he would make the actions of one have no effect on the other. He was wrong. Dr Jekyll became utterly miserable and didn't find that happiness he thought he would have. So with us, we may try to dissociate our impure desires and actions with our more pure side. We do this in many ways. We may think that what we do behind closed doors alone doesn't affect who we are outside those doors. Or we might think that overcompensating and publicly espousing our Dr. Jekyll will somehow redeem the actions of our Mr. Hyde. However, we cannot hide our Hyde completely. 

The more time we give for our lusts, urges, whims, passions, jealousies, and anger the more power those aspects gain. Eventually they will win. We may think we can live the best of both worlds and that will make us happy. Dr Jekyll thought it would make him happy but in the end he described his life as the bitterness of hell. I don't think it would be any different for you or me.

Can we live two lives? Can we cheat on our spouses in the dark and not be affected? Can we sneak down hidden alleys for a quick high or buzz and not have consequences? Can we watch pornography and not have it effect our relationships? Can we say we are going for a run but secretly just stroll over to Mcdonalds without it affecting our health? No we can't.

Dr. Jekyll was able to physically separate his good and bad actions and he couldn't escape from the consequences. All of our thoughts and actions have some form of effect on us whether they are disguised or not. The more we give into our darker sides, the more power we give to our darker side to become the prevailing force in our life. So don't give into your Hyde and please don't ever join the dark side like Anakin Skywalker. It will only lead to suffering. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014


At this time I would wish to express an aspect of my life that I have long feared would lose the respect of my parents, family, and many of my friends. This is something I have wrestled with and have slowly come to grips with over the last several years. I will keep this brief so let's get to it.

I do not know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the one and only true church on the earth that enables mankind to return to God. I do not know that Jesus Christ is my Savior and Redeemer.

There. I said it.

I could list many more details about specific areas of my testimony or lack thereof, but it is easier to just say that I do not know many things. However, just because I do not know these things doesn't mean I know the opposite of them to be true.

So what do I know or believe?

I do believe and hope in a God that knows me and loves me. I believe that God wants above all things for me and for everyone else to be happy. If that is God's will for me, then my will is aligned with His. Like all other human beings, I struggle and fall short in this pursuit of happiness.

I believe happiness depends upon me to first discover what truly makes me happy and then following that path. Like the LDS church, I have found and strongly believe that adhering to the following values will increase my happiness.
  • Following the law of chastity, specifically abstaining from sex before a committed marriage and avoiding activities such as masturbation and pornography.
  • Abstaining from strong and addictive substances such as alcohol, drugs, and etc.
  • Frequently taking time to meditate, reflect, and connect with God.
  • Giving selfless service.
  • Loving all mankind regardless of opinion, actions, culture, gender, economic status, and etc. (Matthew 22:39)
  • Living within my means and staying out of debt.
  • Being honest.
  • Being actively grateful.
  • Delaying gratification.
  • Taking care of my body including eating healthy and regularly exercising. 
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been wonderful in helping me learn about God, living a value driven life, and helping me to become a better person. Because of this, I plan to continue participating in many functions of the church because I know how it can be a force for good in my life.

My testimony has gone through many changes throughout my life and I would be naive to think that it will not go through any more changes as I progress through this life. Even if my testimony is constantly in flux, which I am okay with, I will always try to strive for truth and happiness (hence the name of my blog).

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Delayed Gratification

Lately one of my most important questions I ask myself is "Will this make me happy or not?"

There is a quote often displayed that says something to the effect of "Don't sacrifice what you want most (mine is happiness) for what you want most in the moment." Recently I have grown to appreciate how true and profound this statement is.

One of the keys to happiness is continual self improvement. Self-improvement requires us to make the choice to self-improve and this choice is one that often derives down to the choice of delaying gratification. Do I want to be entertained now or do I want to be happy later? Those who are able to choose the latter seem to be typically more successful, educated, respected, and have higher self-esteem. More importantly they typically are happier.

What makes self-improvement hard is that it is often not immediately gratifying. Currently I am studying for the GMAT so I can go to grad school. This is one of the ways in which I am trying to self-improve. However, I often find it hard to study because studying isn't all that immediately gratifying. It's not all that fun. What is immediately gratifying is checking Facebook, texting someone, playing a game on my phone, taking a quiz to find out which character from Lord of the Rings I am, watching a funny Youtube video, turning on Sportscenter, taking a nap, and the list goes on. I am sure you could add many other activities of your own to this list. While these activities are fun and are entertaining they don't actually make anyone happy, at least not for sustained periods of time. While these activities are not inherently bad, they can be abused. Some of these activities are even good but that doesn't mean they are the best activities to be doing.

On the extreme end of the spectrum of immediate gratification we have drugs, alcohol, pornography, and giving in to strong negative emotions like greed, lust, envy, anger, wrath, and pride. See the 7 deadly sins. These acts have immediate and strongly powerful gratifying and pleasureable effects but can you think of how any of these activities helped someone grow and progress in the long run? These activities also have an addictive power which makes these activities consuming and can degrade one's life. 

The best activities are often the ones that require work and don't necessarily provide immediate noticeable gratification to ourselves. These activities include but are not limited to exercising, eating healthy, studying, meditating, practicing emotional awareness, giving service, going to work, cleaning, thinking critically, and even for me writing this blogpost.

So what makes these harder and less immediately gratifying activities give greater sustained happiness? To be honest I am not sure but I think there is something to be said about the pride one can derive from self-control, which these harder activities require. I know there are more and better reasons but I will have to flesh those out with time.

I finished this blogpost, which wasn't easy. It feels good.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Emotional Intelligence in Relationships

If you can't be happy with yourself, why do you think you would be happy with someone else?

This is a question/statement I have been mulling over lately. As I have gone through a few relationships I have enjoyed the highs and endured the lows. It's been a volatile emotional roller coaster. How is it that my emotional well being has been so directly correlated and connected with the status of my romantic relationships? Is that even healthy? The lows have have often made me desirous to be married so my relationship status will be cemented in place. Have I been naive to think that being married or in a relationship will therefore make me happy?

I believe that happiness in life is something I decide. Even if I remain single for the rest of my life or get rejected many times, that shouldn't be something that negatively determines my sense of worth and happiness. A relationship with someone else should only serve to enhance my happiness, not make or break it.

Of course our relationships with our families, co-workers, friends, and our significant others are going to affect our moods, dispositions, and our happiness. I don't think there is any escaping that, but it is one thing to be affected by these relationships and another to be dependent on them. A relationship doesn't have to be something that completes you or makes you whole. Why can't you be that by yourself? A relationship adds onto or enhances oneself.

Recently I became informed of a term called emotional intelligence. The general idea behind emotional intelligence is to be cognizant of ones and others emotions and to be able to effectively manage those emotions. This doesn't mean that we block out strong emotion. I think strong emotions are something that need to be embraced and fully experienced. If we don't experience these emotions, especially the negative ones, we will struggle to fully experience the positive ones. However, one needs to be aware of these emotions and how they affect one's life so as to be able to harness them in a positive direction. Emotional intelligence, I believe, will help one as they wade through the emotional struggles often found in romantic relationships.

A girl with whom I recently conversed with spoke of a previous relationship in which the guy was often depressed and unhappy. One day she asked him what made him happy and the only response he could give her was her. If you think her reaction was, "oh that is so sweet that I mean so much to him" you are severely mistaken. Knowing that you are the sole owner of another person's happiness is a lot of pressure, which eventually pushed her away.

So if you're approaching a relationship looking for someone who will make you happy and help take you out of your slump, then maybe you're not ready for a quality relationship. Once you are happy with yourself and would like to add onto the happiness of someone else's life, in turn adding onto your own life, then you're at a better starting place for a quality and happy relationship.

My brother remarked to me that he doesn't need his wife but he chooses to be with her. That may sound a bit harsh or unromantic, but knowing that the person I love has a wonderful and happy life by herself and yet chooses to spend her time, energy, and resources with me because it yields both her and I greater happiness is a wonderful thought.

So I pose the question again, "If you can't be happy with yourself, why do you think you would be happy with someone else?"