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Top floor or basement — what’s your perspective?

Mar 24th, 2009 by Dr. Elia | 0

Several months ago a friend of ours gave my wife a tile plaque that reads, “If it doesn’t matter Eternally, does it really matter?” It now hangs in our kitchen and has become a daily reminder to us of trying to achieve an eternal perspective.

That one word “perspective” can determine to a large degree our level of happiness or misery in this life. So here’s the choice: top floor or basement? Which will we choose to reside in, and for how long?

Let us examine the basement perspective for a minute. We’ve ALL been there. You know the routine: feelings such as, “It will never work out”; “I’m stuck and there’s no way out of this problem”; “I’m so depressed, I don’t want to get out of bed”; or even more dire, pleading with God “Please take me home, I’m done with this life!” All of these are human emotions that everyone will encounter at some point in their lives.

The circumstances could be the loss of a loved one, when the pain is so intense that we feel like we truly cannot bear it. It could be a broken relationship or a divorce that causes us to feel like the entire world has come crashing down around us. It could be a financial setback that threatens our survival. It could be one of our beloved children going astray, making poor choices and breaking our hearts.

There are so many reasons why we end up in the basement. Let’s us not beat ourselves up, but rather make a conscious choice to become “visitors” as opposed to permanent residents.

The basement perspective is one that’s filled with fear, hopelessness, depression, anxiety, helplessness and, ultimately, faithlessness. Like I said before, we’ve all been visitors at least.

But let’s take a look at the other end of the spectrum. What’s the view from the top floor? Some might say expansive, beautiful, full of light, hope and optimism!

Clearly the higher up we go, the more positive the response to events that might even feel overwhelming. In the scriptures we read that “…this too shall pass.”

What are the requirements to becoming “permanent residents” and not merely visitors to the top floor? It all starts with an abiding testimony of the gospel and the plan of salvation. I know who I am, why I’m here and, most importantly, where I’m going. I know that God loves me with ALL my imperfections and has created a path for me to return home to him.

Faith coupled with hope brings us closer to our preferred residence. The goal in life is not just to endure to the end but to endure to the end well, with gratitude in our hearts for all of our many blessings. With thankfulness in our souls for even the adversities in life, because they make us who we are and help us to cultivate empathy for those around us.

A helpful reminder that we are not alone can go a long way toward finding peace, happiness and even joy in this lifetime. May we strive to be brief visitors to the basement and quickly return to being permanent residents of the very top floor — the one closest to God.

If it doesn’t really matter eternally, perhaps we can choose to let it go sooner. If it does matter eternally, then we should choose to embrace it with all our hearts.


Dr. Elia Gourgouris is a nationally known speaker, relationship coach, and the president of LDSCoaching.com. With over 20 years of experience, he has inspired thousands of individuals and couples to find greater happiness and fulfillment, both in their careers and their personal lives. He holds a degree from UCLA and a Ph.D. in psychology. Dr. Gourgouris speaks to groups around the country regarding women’s issues, self esteem, communications skills, and relationships. He is also a favorite presenter at both BYU and BYU-ID Education Weeks, and Time Out for Women conferences. He is the author of “DTR: What You Need to Know Before You Get Married” and he has an upcoming CD entitled “The Multi-Platinum Marriage: Going from Just Surviving to Thriving!” He and his wife, Sona, live near Boulder, Colorado, with their children.

Faith vs the Fear Factor

Jan 6th, 2009 by Dr. Elia | 0

All human emotions find their genesis in one of these two camps: either the faith camp or the fear camp. This might sound like a bold statement, but let’s break it down and see if it’s true.

First off, what feelings, emotions, thoughts or even actions are found in the fear camp? Do you feel stressed, anxious, depressed, pessimistic, addicted, inadequate, uncertain, discouraged, angry, lost, alone or mistrustful? Actually who doesn’t relate to at least a few of these emotions lately? A recent national survey found that 75 percent of Americans are stressed, anxious and angry — and given many of the current national and worldwide situations, who can blame them?

I dare say that every one of us has “visited” this camp at least periodically in our lifetime. The point is not that we shouldn’t be fearful or we shouldn’t set foot in the fear camp. It is part of the human experience and is entirely normal. The point is that we don’t have to remain there permanently. In fact this really should be one of our goals in life: to make shorter visits to the fear camp.

So if I used to stay stressed for a few months at a time, maybe I can reduce it to a few weeks. If feelings of inadequacy ruled my life for weeks at a time, maybe I can reduce them to a few days. If I have days of feeling discouraged, maybe I can try wallowing in the muck for just a day. If I’m feeling uncertain about the future today, maybe I remain in that state for just a few hours.

So what is the cure? Unlike the popular show, “The Fear Factor,” I believe the answer is “The Faith Factor.” I would love to create a coin, but instead of heads or tails we find the word “faith” on one side and “fear” on the other. One of the wonderful things about being human and having the gift of agency is that in life we don’t have to flip the coin to see what comes up.

Our lives are not left up to chance. We have a choice to make and choosing faith will have the greatest impact in how we live our lives. Even though it’s difficult, choosing faith immediately eliminates the fear. If we want to go from just surviving to thriving, faith is the only way!

Some of the attributes found in the faith camp include hope, optimism, light, security, cheerfulness, confidence, trust, happiness and peace. When visiting the “faith camp” we are in tune with the Spirit. We are comforted in the knowledge that all is well. I know that some may argue the point of “all is well.” Haven’t I been watching the news? Am I in denial of how bad things are? The prognosticators are spelling g-l-o-o-m and d-o-o-m everywhere!

Faith is remaining at peace, even while in the middle of the storm! I’ve often proclaimed that I am the most faithful person on the planet — when everything is going right! When things are working out, my gratitude abounds, but that’s the easy part.

The question is, can I be faithful when everything seems to go wrong? When my dreams, aspirations, expectations or plans go awry, then what do I do? Will I just flip the coin and see what comes up, or will I consciously choose to activate the faith side?

How often is the word faith mentioned in the scriptures, and why does God want us to be more faithful? Most likely because God loves us and cares for our well being, and faith is the critical link between our experience here on the earth and His unseen hands working for our welfare on the other side. So let us choose faith over fear more often and enjoy the wonderful life-long benefits!


Dr. Elia Gourgouris is a nationally known speaker, relationship coach, and the president of LDSCoaching.com. With over 20 years of experience, he has inspired thousands of individuals and couples to find greater happiness and fulfillment, both in their careers and their personal lives. He holds a degree from UCLA and a Ph.D. in psychology. Dr. Gourgouris speaks to groups around the country regarding women’s issues, self esteem, communications skills, and relationships. He is also a favorite presenter at both BYU and BYU-ID Education Weeks, and Time Out for Women conferences. He is the author of “DTR: What You Need to Know Before You Get Married” and he has an upcoming CD entitled “The Multi-Platinum Marriage: Going from Just Surviving to Thriving!” He and his wife, Sona, live near Boulder, Colorado, with their children.