1 I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father; and having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days.
(1 Nephi 1:1)
From the time that Nephi’s family left Jerusalem until they arrived in the promised land, he and his brothers lived in exactly the same circumstances and endured the same hardships, the same uncertainties, the same setbacks and challenges. Yet, his attitude toward those difficulties was completely different from theirs. Laman and Lemuel described their unhappy situation in this way:
Behold, these many years we have suffered in the wilderness, which time we might have enjoyed our possessions and the land of our inheritance; yea, and we might have been happy (1 Nephi 17:21)
In contrast, Nephi acknowledges the difficulties (“having seen many afflictions in the course of my days”), but also recognizes the blessings that he has received along the way (“nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days”). In particular, Nephi points to the spiritual knowledge which he gained along the journey, knowledge which his brothers did not gain because they were unwilling to make the effort to seek it. (See 1 Nephi 15:7-11.) More broadly, his brothers appear to have only noticed the negative aspects of their current situation and the positive aspects of their former life. Their perception was distorted, and their unhappiness was a direct result of their failure to take advantage of their new circumstances. When Nephi broke his bow, they complained. He made a new bow. (See 1 Nephi 16:20-23.) Their bows had “lost their springs” some time before, and they had apparently made no attempt to replace or repair them, preferring to rely on Nephi’s bow and then to simply murmur when his bow was broken.
A complaining mind is a narrow mind. It fails to detect and act upon opportunities, because it is so intensely focused on what it is missing.
Today, I will follow Nephi’s example of looking for the good in my circumstances. I will remember that I can be “highly favored of the Lord” even if I “[see] many afflictions.” I will focus on the positive aspects of my current circumstances and will take advantage of the opportunities available to me rather than dwell on the difficulties I currently face.