Friday, January 28, 2011

Three thought-provoking talks

I  listened to a three intensely thought-provoking talks recently and I thought I would share: 

Households of Faith  (McConkie, Bruce R.)
Elder McConkie talks about the phrases “children of Christ”, “sons of God”, and “joint heirs with Christ” and explains the distinctions and how those distinctions relate to the plan of Salvation

When Thou Art Converted (Dyer, Alvin R. )
Thoughts on conversion, not taking it for granted, and understanding the responsibilities associated with conversion.

A Disease Called Pride (Burton, Theodore M. )
Some powerful thoughts on achieving a Zion Society and the practical matter of caring for the poor.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Observations on Charity Experiment

So last week I started an experiment to foster the development of Charity within myself. In my earlier studies, I observed that a key aspect of receiving the gift of charity is a willingness to ask for and receive the gift. I hypothesized that an effective way to do this would be to spend time at the beginning of the day thinking the day through and asking for charity in the specific situations I anticipated needing it. For instance, if I was going to help a child with homework, I would pray for patience, humility, and love for that particular event. (Believe me, I need it!)

So, for that last few days, this is exactly what I have been doing- using my prayer time at the beginning of each day to think through my itinerary and ask for help in specific instances. Here are things that I have observed coming out of this practice:

  • There have been several instances where I have received specific guidance beforehand on things I should do and say. As I have followed through with this revelation, I could see real benefit to myself and to others. Not usually spectacular- just a feeling of peaceful and happy coexistance and definitely a greater feeling of love.
  • On the whole, my demeanor has been more calm and conciliatory. I’ve had more patience and felt more willingness to listen to people.
  • While I still have trouble with patience and being judgemental, I notice that I catch myself and I’m reeling myself in from conversations that start going bad.

As I look at what has been happening, I can see for myself that this practice has a tangible benefit in getting me closer to the kind of person I want to be. I impressed enough by what I see to adopt this practice for the foreseeable future.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Experiment in Charity

My thoughts have lately been on the topic of charity (the pure love of Christ) and how one obtains it.    I found the following passages of scripture enlightening:

-          John 15:9-11 – Keep Christ’s commandments to abide in the Christ’s Love

-          Moroni 8: 25-26 – Repentance brings Holy Ghost, which fills with perfect love

-          Alma 38: 12 – Bridle passions to be filled with love

-          Eph 3:14-19 – The prayers of others can help one know the love of Christ

-          2 Nephi 4:21-24 – Mighty prayer brings the love of God

-          Mosiah 4:11-12 – Great humility and sincere prayer will fill you with the love of God

-          Mosiah 2:4 – Keep the commandments to be filled with love

-          Moroni 7:48 – Pray with all energy of heart to be filled with God’s love

I’m seeing a pattern here of repentance, obedience, humility, and earnest prayer explicitly asking for charity.    It’s the latter two items that I’ve been thinking about lately.  

Yesterday I was talking with a friend and I had an epiphany.  It occurred to me that literally “asking for charity” in a blanket fashion, as I assumed from Moroni 7:48, is not  much different than praying for “all the sick people to get better” or for “all those who didn’t come this week to come next week.”    Those are hollow expressions that don’t require much faith and don’t really work.    This general asking for charity is pretty much what I have been doing in my prayers and it’s become a rote thing and not very effective.   My friend reminded me of a talk by David A Bednar in which he said:  “meaningful morning prayer is an important element in the spiritual creation of each day” and recommended planning out the day with God in our morning prayers.

So today I decided to adjust my prayers somewhat and think of three instances in the day when I could anticipate needing the gift of charity, and ask for charity for that specific instance.     One difference I noticed immediately is that there was much more revelation.  I had specific ideas come to me for each instance that I will try to do as the day progresses.    I will give a report later.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The invention of money

This is a very interesting listen:


It talks about some of the history of money and how we've taken the fiction of money to new extremes in our digital society.   One interesting set of comments that caught my attention is the necessity of "faith in money" for the system to work.    It leads me to this question:   can a person eschew faith in money and still function as a part of our society?

Friday, January 07, 2011

Autofocus 4 Q&A: My little personal assistant

I got some questions recently on how I use Autofocus 4 for time management and I thought I’d answer them here.

Are you using pen and paper or a computer? 

I’m using pencil and paper.  (For some reason, pen doesn’t  feel right for AF4)  My paper is a simple composition book with ruled lines.  I divide each page into two columns.   I connect crossed out items with vertical lines to make it easier to spot unfinished items.

Do you have a separate notebook for personal/home tasks?

Yes.  Though I have considered otherwise and I have a friend who uses just one and he likes it.   I prefer having two because I don’t like to mix work and family.   I do, however, bring my home book to work so that I can write down ideas that need to be done at home (and vice-versa).  I would probably keep just one if I was self-employed.  

Do you find that Mark’s recommendation to ignore task priority works for you? 

Yes.  However, I’m still getting over feeling nervous about it.   What I find important is to keep the discipline.  One of the rules is to scan the list before I start acting on it.  This let’s my intuition kick in before I decide what needs to be done.  That way I don’t forget about important things.     A very valuable feature of AF4 is that it highlights the stuff I have not touched in a long time and it begs me, pleads with me, cajoles me into doing something about it.  About half the time, I simply highlight the item so I can forget about it and move on.  The other half of the time, I force myself to do 5 minutes of work on it so I can move it to the front of the list.  Oddly enough, this feels quite satisfying and I am surprisingly productive when I do it.

Along the same lines, what do you do when a task comes up that should get addressed soon/immediately? 

This is where the philosophy really kicks in.  The first thing I observe is that 95% of everything that is “urgent” is really not as urgent as we think.   Case in point- when I got these questions, my impulse was to answer them immediately because I had all these ideas about them.  Then I settled down and focused on the rules.  I wrote down a task to answer the letter and finally took it on when the time was right (after some more pressing tasks were completed).    For those rare, truly pressing tasks, I find that as long as I keep the rule of scanning the list, my intuition forces me to work on them.    For instance, I got an email this morning saying that an output of mine was broken and it was urgent to fix it before an 11am meeting.  I wrote it on my list and then went back to scanning my email.  Then I scanned the AF4 list, did a few items on my backlog that I felt needed to be done, and then my brain started screaming at me to do this one item.  I couldn’t even concentrate on what I was reading.   I got it done way ahead of schedule and was able to feel very satisfied in all the work I had accomplished.

So, what seems to me to be the most wonderful thing about AF4 is this discovery that I have a personal assistant to help me focus on what’s important.   So far this has not let me down and my confidence in “my little personal assistant” is increasing. 

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

AF4: Intuition vs. Rational Thought

I got up on Monday morning this week ready to tackle a swelling list of todo items that had recently accumulated in my backlog.  As I looked through my AF4 list, my intuition pointed me squarely at a task that had recently risen in prominence, but that had been on the back of my mind for well over a year. 

I have a piece of children’s software I have authored called PixelWhimsy and the most recent version of it didn’t work on recent computers for various reasons.   I’ve been wanting to fix this problem off and on since it first cropped up nearly two years ago, but it was a daunting task.   I was able to make a little headway on it last week because I had an AF4 task to look into the technology I would need to accomplish the fix.  I found some good information and it ignited my spirit.  I instantly knew that I needed to “just do it”. 

So, here’s the crazy thing:  I set aside pretty much my entire todo list and worked like a maniac all day on Monday (I had the day off) from 4am til about 6pm when my family needed some attention.  I did a couple of things on my backlog, but only finished 4 tasks for the day, which is pretty low for me.   As I lay in bed waiting to go to sleep, my spirit awoke again and I had a vision of what the next day would be.  I was starting back at work the next day, but I knew I needed to finish, so would get up at 3am, skip my morning routines and just get it done.   And that’s pretty much exactly what happened.   I started at 3, and just stayed at it until 7:30 when I published the results.   Up until that moment, I pretty much had a little storm cloud over my head as I dealt with a long series of small annoying problems, but getting it done filled me with a surge of energy and creativity.   This is when I think that our intuition pays off.   So-called rational behavior rarely seems to have such dividends.