Tyler Bastian, a father of six, will fulfill a lifelong dream this fall when he opens the first-ever agricultural-based high school in Utah. He shared how this project will help himself and others to live a more abundant life.
I have learned through my experience that the world is abounding in greatness and untapped potential that is calling after us to create, pursue, and discover. As I have worked to start Utah’s first farm-based high school, Roots Charter High School, I have seen many examples of this greatness in the youth that I work with—they are full of untapped potential. What these youth often lack is the understanding that they choose, through how they live, to go after this greatness or not. We can all begin to discover our own excellence through four steps.
Strive to Accomplish Difficult Tasks
Like many, I struggle to start and finish difficult tasks. However, I have found that learning to accomplishing difficult things is the first key to an abundant life. Life is difficult, and it is supposed to be that way. We often give up what is hard for what is easy—and while this may relieve our momentary pain or discomfort, the long-term effects can be debilitating, keeping us from reaching our potential.
I know a man who decided when he was 15 that he would fly. He lives in very poor circumstances and is severely disabled by polio, yet for almost 60 years he has worked tirelessly to build a helicopter. One day I asked him why he was building a helicopter. He said, “Everyone will have problems in life, yet no one picks their problems; they just take the problems that come their way. At 15 I didn’t want polio to be the defining problem in my life, so I picked a new problem. I chose to make the building of a helicopter my defining problem in life.”
I have tried throughout my life to pick problems or tasks that are big and difficult. These problems or tasks then define my life, and the small problems become less significant or go away entirely.
The world is full of shiny objects that, if we allow them to, can become constant distractions from the goodness that surrounds us. Striving each day to simplify can help us avoid the shiny distractions of life.
A wealthy man once took me to a sandwich shop. The sandwich he ordered was simple and inexpensive, but it was his favorite. As we ate, he told me a story. When he and his wife first married, they were poor and would save their change for a week or two and then go to the sandwich shop and buy one sandwich. They would share the sandwich, laughing and chatting while they ate. At the close of his story, almost under his breath, he stated, “The sandwiches tasted so much better back then.” This stuck with me, and over the years I have thought about this idea a lot. As we complicate our lives and strive for accumulation of things that are advertised to make our life better, we lose some of the rich flavor that a simple life offers.
The gospel of Christ can dispel all fear. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). Learning to understand and overcome fear has been a big obstacle for me. Growing up, I could be incredibly self-conscious and quiet; I was scared of what people thought of me. This became debilitating at times.
When I moved to Honduras to serve an LDS mission I had to face my fears. I didn’t speak the language or understand the culture at all. I would spend all day not understanding what was being said. Over and over as I walked, I would sing in my mind the words to the hymn “Lead, Kindly Light.” I came to love that hymn and the line, “Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see the distant scene—one step enough for me” (Hymns, no. 97). Those words helped me to dispel my fear. We can’t live an abundant life if we fear the world or our brothers and sisters that live among us. There is and always will be more good in the world than bad. Living abundantly requires us to be courageous and fear not. President Monson has stated, “Courage becomes a worthwhile and meaningful virtue when it is regarded not so much as a willingness to die manfully but as a determination to live decently” (“Living the Abundant Life,” Ensign, Jan, 2012, 5). Live without fear, go places and try new things—this is key to abundant living.
Learn to Love and Forgive
Hate is a disease that can destroy abundance if we allow it into our lives,. When I was younger there were a lot of people I didn’t like. One day in school I realized that how I got to my class was often determined by who I would see: if I saw someone I didn’t like, I would change my route the next time. Once I realized this, I made a vow to never dislike someone to the point that I would change my actions. I wanted to be able to go anywhere in the school—and in life—and not worry about who I might run into. It was a big task, but I started trying to correct my negative feelings toward others. To this day, I strive to get rid of bad feelings when they creep into my mind and heart. I strive to correct negative impressions that I have made on others. I try to not be offended easily and to not offend.
Of the four steps, this one is the hardest. Satan does a good job of using hatred and offense to keep me from abundant relationships. Hatred is his tool, and it has no place in our lives. The Savior, in one of His most agonizing moments on the cross, looked to the Father and asked for forgiveness for His enemies. If we can follow this example in our lives, abundance of relationships will follow. James E. Faust stated, “If we can find forgiveness in our hearts for those who have caused us hurt and injury, we will rise to a higher level of self-esteem and well-being” (“The Healing Power of Forgiveness,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2007, 68). This state of higher self-esteem and well-being is part of abundant living.
As I have strived to take on difficult tasks, live simply, fear not, and love and forgive others, I have been more in tune with the abundance that God has given me and the love and joy that I have in my family. I believe that the abundant life can be a part of all we do.