Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Responsibility of Personal Influence

“There is one responsibility which no man can evade; that responsibility is his personal influence. Man’s unconscious influence is the silent, subtle radiation of personality – the effect of his words and actions on others. This radiation is tremendous. Every moment of life man is changing, to a degree, the life of the whole world. Every man has an atmosphere, which is affecting every other man.

“He cannot escape for one moment from this radiation of his character, this constant weakening or strengthening of others. Man cannot evade the responsibility by merely saying that it is an unconscious influence. Man can select the qualities he would permit to be radiated…and by these qualities he will constantly affect the world.

“This radiation, to which I refer, comes from what a person really is, not from what he pretends to be. Every man, by his mere living, is radiating either sympathy, sorrow, morbidness, cynicism, or happiness and hope or any one of a hundred other qualities. Life is a state of radiation and absorption. To exist is to radiate; to exist is to be the recipient of radiation.” -David O. McKay

I've been thinking about this quote lately. What do I radiate? Stress mostly, I'm sure. I know when I've been attending the temple regularly it really has a calming influence in my life. Without the temple I turn into Mommy Monster or the Witch Wife and I hate it. When I served as a missionary I always tried to keep a smile on my face because I wanted people to know that our religion makes us happy people.

Since I got home, I've gradually let that slide and too often my face reflects my momentary thoughts and stresses rather than my outlook on life and eternity. The funny thing is when I was a missionary and stressed or annoyed or disappointed, by pasting on a smile even when I wasn't feeling like it, that helped me remember eternal things and why I ultimately am a happy person. So this year one of my new year's resolutions was to "cultivate an unconscious smile." I forget frequently, especially when I'm driving and somebody has just cut me off (have you ever noticed most people look really grumpy or bland when they drive?) and my kids are crying in the back seat, but my lofty ambition is that by the end of the year I'll have developed that capacity to smile as an outward reflection of an inner peace. That can be developed in a year, right?


  1. Welcome to blogging! I'm so glad that we can stay in touch better now. I'm requesting some pictures of your boys. :)

  2. Good food for thought, Serity. I hope you don't mind that I'm stalking you. I love keeping up with my friends' blogs, so I'm linking your blog to mine, if that's OK with you.

  3. Where are the pictures of your kids??!!!! I'm dying to see what your little one looks like and I haven't seen Stratton for years. Glad you have a blog now!

  4. Will post pics as soon as I can figure out how!