Well the secret might be:
1) Before the end of this month, you’ll probably have taken at least one midterm, written two papers about stuff you didn’t even want to read about, and read two books you’d never heard of before.
2) Don’t forget you’re a Mormon, which means you probably need to write a talk, visit your home (or visiting) teachees, and plan a ward activity before the end of the month too.
Your life is a jungle gym of stress, complete with monkey bar midterms, relationship slides, and that spinny-wheel thing that gives you a headache and makes you want to throw up.
Although you may feel stressed enough, there’s one more thing you have to do which is all-too-often ignored: Family History work. Joseph Smith said, “We without [our ancestors] cannot be made perfect; neither can they without us be made perfect” (Doctrine and Covenants 128:18). Recent Church leaders have particularly encouraged youth and young adults (i.e. the computer-literate generation) to be actively involved in Family History research. So basically, do your Family History or go to hell. No pressure.
But when you hear a talk about Family History, you’re kind of like:
Understandably, Family History work gets pushed to the sidelines in your life. You might go to a Family History class or attend the temple periodically, but aside from that, the hard-core, nitty gritty of researching your ancestors gets pushed back to “someday when.” “Someday, when I don’t have homework anymore,” or, “Someday, when I’m retired.”
Oy vey! With all the fraking things already attacking your attention, what are the effects of doing Family History research on your stress level?
As a student entering my fifth year of college (anticipating my effing sixth), I’ve tried a lot of methods of de-stressing myself. Some, like regular exercise and temple attendance, have been effective. Others, like spending four hours a day on Facebook or watching movies all weekend, have not been effective. I think the reason has something to do with this: if I’m taking a break by doing something I know I should do anyway (like exercise), then I feel less stress. If I take a break by doing something I know I should do sparingly (like check Facebook), I’m just going to stress myself out more. I’m no genius or anything, but it turns out I’m on the right track.
According to the Internet, having a productive hobby can simplify your life by reducing the pressures you feel from other obligations. The Internet says, “Serious hobbyists feel less anxiety, depression and hostility, and enjoy more positive moods than people who spend their time in other ways.” A stress-relieving hobby should be challenging, but not so hard that it makes you want to give/throw up. However, passive hobbies, such as watching TV or having a one-man pizza-eating contest, are bad hobbies.
How many nights have you postponed homework by watching a movie, playing a video game, eating a bowl of cookie dough, or staring at your roommates doing their homework, just because you needed some time to de-stress?
A truly effective method of de-stressing is by participating in a guilt-free hobby. Why not do Family History as a guilt-free, stress-reducing hobby?
Family History is hard, but the hard part of Family History work can largely be eliminated if you’re a BYU student. Major resources at BYU are available for freeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!
- First, the BYU Family History library is open seven days a week (except for the first and third Sundays of the month) and offers Family History classes.
- Second, Ancestry.com, the world’s LARGEST database of genealogical documents, can be accessed for freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee when you’re hooked up to BYU Internet. Whoa.
As with many hobbies, getting started on your Family History can be hard, but it becomes easier the longer that you do it, and, when you do it at BYU, starting isn’t as awful as it could be.
Also, you could start with an easy part of Family History, then move on to the hard parts as you gain more experience and confidence. Different aspects of Family History include:
- keeping a personal history (easy)
- interviewing family members on the verge of death and recording their stories (easy)
- indexing (never been a fan)
- digitizing old photos and sharing them online (you’d get legit kudos if you did this)
- doing the research for your own ancestors and taking their names to the temple (my favorite)
As you get tired of doing one certain part of Family History work, you can move on to a different part, gaining new skills and knowledge the whole way. #winning
When you do start working on the nitty gritty research for your own ancestors, have a specific goal for a specific ancestor instead of trying to do the work for multiple ancestors at once. Otherwise, you’re gonna have a bad time. Also, don’t research your ancestors ONLY to do their temple work. The real benefits come from learning who your ancestors actually were.
Family History is totes a worthwhile distraction from school. By spending an hour or so doing Family History research each week, I’m able to find information about ancestors that no one in my family has known before. I’m able to reunite families that have been separated for centuries. Heckfire, doing Family History research and taking my ancestors’ names to the temple is a lot more satisfying than going to the Testing Center has ever been.
If you’ve served a mission, how great would it be to take a break from the constant nagging of homework by feeling the way you did on your mission? Even if you haven’t served a mission, you’ll find that a servicful hobby is much more rewarding than scrolling through Facebook or eating a carton of ice cream.
But perhaps you feel that all of your Family History work has been done already and, therefore, taking up Family History as a hobby would be pointless. My BEST FRIEND Kaden Taylor is the great-great-great-grandson of John Taylor. You’d think he wouldn’t have any Family History work to do, but of course he does, just a bit less than the average Mormon.
Kaden tells me that having less ancestors that need temple work allows him to focus his research. He also likes the idea of finding information that no one in his family has known before. Dang, he’s great.
Doing Family History was something specially designed for our generation. We’re pros at Facebook-stalking our crushes and googling random crap that we NEED TO KNOW. Why not do the same thing for our ancestors?
“It is no coincidence that FamilySearch and other tools have come forth at a time when young people are so familiar with a wide range of information and communication technologies,” Elder Bednar said in the October 2011 general conference. “The skills and aptitude evident among many young people today are a preparation to contribute to the work of salvation.”
As a Latter-day Saint, you’re also a pro at deciding what’s important and devoting your energy to that. For example, even though money is a very necessary part of life, you set aside ten percent of your income to give as tithing, still having enough to pay the bills and go on dates. You’re also capable of fulfilling a calling, a commitment that’s sometimes a full-time job at other churches, while still fulfilling work and school obligations. Heck, you may even be so good at time management that you set aside work and school obligations for eighteen months to two whole years in order to serve a full-time mission. Being a Latter-day Saint is to your advantage when it comes to setting aside time to do Family History research. Time management and making priorities are something you’ve been doing your whole LDS life.
Adding Family History to your list of priorities is not something that will drag you down and drown you like a sack of unwanted puppies. Family History is a sure-fire way to take your mind off your hectic day-to-day life and allow you to think about what matters most.
Your life is busy and you’re doing your best to meet all your school, work, and Church obligations. Thankfully, you have Family History to take your mind off things every now and again. Take advantage of the resources available at BYU to make Family History research a guilt-free break from your stress-prone life.