Our lives are happier when we properly maintain our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual selves. In “Lasting Discipleship“, President Steven J. Lund discusses how to maintain our spiritual selves, but if we neglect the other areas, our spirituality will also suffer.
No Time for Maintenance
One of the excuses I have used and hear others use all the time is that there “isn’t time for <<insert maintenance type here>>” or “I don’t have time for X”. The fact is that there is time, but we have to make time for maintaining ourselves.
For me there are two times of day where I can perform maintenance. Those are when I wake up, and before I go to bed. These I call my AM and PM routines. Each routine consists of five items. My AM routine focuses on my physical, emotional, and spiritual maintenance. My PM focuses on my mental, emotional, and spiritual. Each routine takes between an hour and an hour and a half. The great part is that these two times of day are usually when work, children, and other distractions are not prevalent.
My physical fitness involves three main things:
- Weight Control
- Yard Work
Exercise is different for everyone. You have to find what works for you. My routine involves exercising my legs, arms, and abdominals with little to no weights involved. I walk two miles every day as well as either run or jog on the treadmill twice a week. This combined with refereeing soccer one night a week and playing pickup soccer on Saturday mornings helps me to stay fit.
Weight control for me means watching what I eat. I’m not someone who does a perfect job of eating all the right foods. However, I do try to balance what I eat and when I snack or choose “non-healthy” foods, I limit the amount I have at any one time. This year I’ve made it a goal to lose some weight and eat better. So far it’s working, and I look forward to seeing results and improving my choices.
Finally, yard work. Yes, you read that right, yard work is a part of my physical maintenance. There is something about yard work that clears my mind of all thoughts and I can focus on just the work being done. It also helps me to use muscles that might not be part of my fitness workouts. Of course the added benefit of yard work is that my yard is receiving physical maintenance as well.
I love to learn new things. Especially things that pertain to computers and technology. I spend time learning how to code new trends, different languages, and algorithms. This keeps my mind sharp and in a mode of constant learning.
Everyday I have a set of “puzzles” that I do to help maintain my mental edge. I like Wordle, Quordle, Nerdlegame, and Logic Games like Nurikabe, Lights Out, and Netwalk. I play these puzzles in the morning to help my brain wake up and to be ready for the mental challenges of the day.
I geek out on various topics and have found the “DeMystified” series of books a great resource for learning everything from math to science. Currently, I’m working my way through a Pre-Calculus book. My kids think I’m weird, but in the long run these have helped me to work my brain and understand topics that I previously didn’t.
Emotional maintenance involves those things that help us feel good about ourselves and/or keep our thoughts, actions, and behaviors in line with our ethics and morals. I perform emotional maintenance as part of my AM and PM routines. In the morning I have a set of declarations that I recite. These short statements are either who I am currently or who I’m becoming. I am reminded of my identity and the attributes that I possess. Those attributes lead to emotional stability.
In the evening I have a couple of ways to perform emotional maintenance. The first is something called F.A.D.E.S. This stands for Fear, Anger, Depression, Embarrassment, and Sadness. Monday to Friday evenings I take one of the letters and journal about it. The entry starts with “I am …” and then a list of things that describe why I feel that way. For example, on Monday evening I could write the following.
I am fearful…
- Of failing at my job
- Of being a bad parent
- Of falling into bad habits
- That my family will fall apart
I don’t list everything that I am fearful of because that would take a long time. Instead, I list the first few things that immediately come to mind. I find that when I write them down, they leave my mind and I can objectively look at them and see how valid they are. For instance, in the above list, I can look at the second bullet and remind myself of all the good things that my children do that shows they have learned good things from my parenting.
The other evening activity I do for emotional maintenance is to read my Patriarchal Blessing. The blessing comes from God through a called Patriarch and reminds me that He knows my potential and who I can become. It gives me confidence to do the things He has asked. I feel better about myself because I know that God is cognizant of me and cares about who I am and who I am becoming.
On spiritual maintenance President Lund states “We must continue to do those things that brought us there in the first place, like praying often, drenching ourselves in scripture, and serving sincerely.”
In order to maintain any part of our soul, repetition is key. I believe that is why we always get the “Primary Answers” from our leaders when they talk about staying on the Covenant Path. In this case repetition means doing these things every day, not doing them the exact same every time. As we learn more about the gospel, we can improve the quality of our “Primary Answers”.
Having thought about this since the October 2022 General Conference, I have come to the conclusion that I can be more sincere in my prayers, go deeper in studying the scriptures, look for ways I can magnify my calling, and serve my ministering families better.
When proper maintenance is performed or attempted, we are blessed. Properly maintaining all aspects of our soul leads to a happier, more fulfilled life. We can all find the time for this maintenance. The key to proper maintenance is finding what works for you and then committing to performing that maintenance in your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual areas.
Tips for Teaching
When teaching this topic, you might consider:
- Asking what it means to keep our physical bodies fit. How do we accomplish physical fitness? What are the benefits of being physically fit?
- Discuss the difference between mental and emotional maintenance. Why is it important to maintain both?
- Ask the class to discuss ways they maintain their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual selves?
- Read the story from President Lund’s talk about the missionary returning home. Spend time on the part starting with “Here’s what you do….” Ask the class to discuss why doing those things will help them spiritually maintain themselves.
- Discuss ways to improve spiritual maintenance. How can one improve in the areas of prayer, scriptures, and serving?