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The Law of Relativity

"I cried because I had no shoes, until I saw a man who had no feet." ~Ancient Proverb

Have you ever been around one of those people who is an eternal opitimist?  The kind of person who, after you have just vented to them about some rotten thing that has happened to you, comes up with a reason that it's really a good thing?

Isn't it irritating? ;)

Actually, it's all about perspective.  What that eternal optimist knows is that "good" or "bad" depends on how you look at it.

The Law of Relativity states that any given circumstance is neither good nor bad, it just is.  Good or bad is a meaning that we attach to the circumstance, based on our thoughts.

And we can change our thoughts.

Watch what happens when a girl who was told to never say "can't" takes that advice to heart.

Jennifer had been born into a circumstance that most people would find difficult--if not impossible--to overcome, and her parents knew that.  They knew that it was important for her to BELIEVE in her capabilities, and to find ways to work with the situation she was in.  They taught her to think in ways that led to her success.

Here is a link to another video that shows the power of perspective:
If I Only Had a Car

No matter how bad our circumstances may be, we can always find someone who has things worse than we do.  Understanding that it could always be worse can help us to remain grateful in hard times. The more frequently we practice gratitude for the things we have, the happier we are.  The Law of Relativity, however, is about more than just putting a positive spin on our hard times. The power in the Law of Relativity comes as we begin to see our setbacks as blessings.

Scripture Story 1:
In the Book of Mormon, Alma goes on a mission to the Zoramites.  As he is preaching, he is approached by a group of people who are poor.  They desire to worship God, but, after having worked hard with their own hands to build the synagogues where the Zoramites worship, these poor people were cast out and persecuted because of their poverty.  They explain their situation to Alma, and what does he say?  "It is well that ye are cast out of your synagogues."

What?  How can it be a good thing to be cast out and persecuted for being poor? In Alma chapter 32 verse 12 it says:
I say unto you, it is well that ye are cast out of your synagogues, that ye may be humble, and that ye may learn wisdom.
The very thing that they were so discouraged about, Alma saw as a great blessing because it would lead them to greater understanding.  And that greater understanding had the potential to free them from their current, discouraging circumstances.

Scripture Story 2:
Another Book of Mormon missionary, Ammon, also had an experience with seeing bad things as good.

Ammon was serving a mission among the Lamanites.  He starts out by becoming a servant to the king, and is instructed by the king to go with a group of servants to tend his flocks of sheep. As these servants are tending the king's flocks, robbers come to scatter and steal the sheep.  The servants begin to panic.  The last guys who lost the king's sheep also lost their lives.  But Ammon saw things differently:
Now the servants of the king began to murmur, saying: Now the king will slay us, as he has our brethren because their flocks were scattered by the wickedness of these men. And they began to weep exceedingly, saying: Behold, our flocks are scattered already.
 Now they wept because of the fear of being slain. Now when Ammon saw this his heart was swollen within him with joy; for, said he, I will show forth my power unto these my fellow-servants, or the power which is in me, in restoring these flocks unto the king, that I may win the hearts of these my fellow-servants, that I may lead them to believe in my words. 
And now, these were the thoughts of Ammon, when he saw the afflictions of those whom he termed to be his brethren. (Alma 17: 28-30)
Ammon saw that the "bad" situation as being good because it would ultimately benefit those whom he desired to teach.

"You can be bitter, or you can be better."  Overcoming the tendency to see the negative is one of the most powerful benefits of understanding the Law of Relativity.  When we are able to keep our thoughts positive, regardless of the circumstances we are facing, then we are able to benefit from every circumstance.  We have been commanded to give thanks in all things (see 1 Thessalonians 5:18), and marvelous blessings are promised to those who do (Doctrine and Covenants 78:19).

For Kids

Conduct a taste test.  Blindfold the participants, and give them a cup filled with sugar water to taste. Ask them how it tasted, and if they'd like to drink a whole glass of it.  Next, give them a cup of lemon juice to taste.  How did it taste?

In the following discussion, compare the sugar water to the good times in life, and the sour lemonade to the challenges we experience.

Sometimes we think that all we want is good times in our lives. Sometimes we look at other people's lives and think that all they have are good times. But a life filled with only sweet is actually pretty bland and flavorless, just like the sugar water.  On the other hand, only sour experiences are not satisfying either.  But what happens when you mix the sugar water with the lemon juice?  You get lemonade, a sweet and tangy refreshing treat.  Likewise, life is more enjoyable when the good times are mixed with challenges.  To experience life fully, and to enjoy it fully, we need both.

Make your own lemonade:

1 3/4 c. white sugar
1 1/2 c. lemon juice
8 c. water

Make a simple syrup by bringing sugar and 1 cup of water to a boil in a small saucepan.  Boil until sugar is completely dissolved.  Cover and refrigerate until chilled.

In a pitcher, combine lemon juice, water, and chilled syrup.  Stir and serve.

Recipe from

Use a paper towel tube to demonstrate perspective.  Have child place paper towel tube up to one eye, closing the other so that the child can only see through the paper towel tube.  Have the child describe what he or she can see (for instance, grass, bark, a leaf).  Explain that what they can see through the tube is only a small part of something bigger (the grass may be part of a park, the bark or the leaf is part of the tree).  When we focus on one small part, we neglect to see the bigger picture.  This is a good activity to do at a place such as a playground.  Children can see the colorful metal/plastic through the tube, without seeing the entire playground.  But when their perspective changes (when the tube is taken away and they see with both eyes), they can recognize the playground for what it is, and enjoy it.


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