How To Recognize When You Have the Spirit, and When You Don’t

The Five Prepared J. Kirk Richards

I remember having a conversation about the Spirit, with my college roomate. He was 3-4 years younger than myself and preparing for a mission. He said something about how it’s not possible to have the Spirit with you all the time. I agreed, but called to his attention those days when everything just seems right. Though everything doesn’t go right, you’re not bothered by it. You’re just a little happier than normal, a little more interested in other people, their joys and problems, and overall just a better person. You rarely recognize these days as their happening, but look back at the end of the day, and think “wow, today was truly a good day.”

He agreed that he’d had those days. I suggested that on those days, the Holy Spirit had been with him throughout most of the day. He was excited and said something to the effect that he’d never thought of it in that way, but that it made perfect sense.

If we’re more aware of those days as they happen, I think we’ll literally “hunger and thirst” after them, as the scriptures say. The Spirit can be addicting after a fashion, because who doesn’t want to feel good and be happy? The only way to help make those days happen more—and avoid days that are opposite of them—is to recognize both, and do better at the things that make those days occur. When we start stringing those days together, one after another, that’s when the Lord can really start to accelerate our personal progress toward perfection. That’s when we truly start to “always have His Spirit to be with us” as we covenant in the sacrament prayers each week.

Here’s an awesome set of parallel lists that help us do exactly that, from the Aug. 1978 Ensign:

When you have the Spirit When you don’t have the Spirit
1 You feel happy, calm, and clear-minded. You feel unhappy, depressed, confused, and frustrated.
2 You feel generous. You feel possessive, self-centered, or resentful of demands made on you.
3 Nobody can offend you. You are easily offended.
4 You wouldn’t mind everybody seeing what you’re doing. You become secretive and evasive.
5 You are eager to be with people and want to make them happy. You avoid people, especially members of your family; and you are critical of family members and Church authorities.
6 You are glad when others succeed. You envy or resent the successes of others.
7 You are glad to attend your meetings and participate in church activities. You don’t want to go to church, go home teaching, or take the sacrament. You wish you had another church job or no job at all.
8 You feel like praying. You don’t want to pray.
9 You wish you could keep all the Lord’s commandments. You find the commandments bothersome, restricting, or senseless.
10 You feel in control—you don’t overeat or sleep too much; you don’t feel uncontrollably drawn to sensational entertainment, lose your temper, or feel uncontrollable passions or desires. You feel emotions and appetites so strongly that you fear you cannot control them—hate, jealousy, anger, lust, hunger, fatigue.
11 You think about the Savior often and lovingly; you want to know him better. You hardly ever think of the Savior; he seems irrelevant to your life, or worse, part of a confusing system that seems to work against you.
12 You feel confident and are glad to be alive. You get discouraged easily and wonder if life is really worth it.

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Tevya Washburn

Website Creator at FiddlerStudios
Creator of Mormon Life Hacker. Tevya keeps a personal blog, & another called Sacred Symbolic, about gospel study and learning. Currently serving as: 2nd Counselor in the Sunday School Presidency.

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