Not So Bad

When life doesn’t make it easy to sing “all is well,” try “not so bad.”

Science and religion agree about the benefits of gratitude. Research and scripture alike show that grateful people are happy people. But what about when I fail a test, have a bad day at work, or struggle to pay tuition? How do I find gratitude on days like that?

"With . . . expanded vision and tremendous dedication [we can] say, 'This is not so bad, not so bad.' " -Matthew O. Samuelson

Image by Bibhukalyan Acharya

In his talk “Stand Up Straight, Smile, and Remember Who You Are,” Matthew O. Richardson says:

“Years ago I was sitting on the stand in a chapel in Europe singing ‘Come, Come, Ye Saints.’ A leader leaned over and whispered, ‘You know, the Polish translation of this song is quite different from the English version.’

‘Really?’ I countered.

‘It doesn’t really read, “All is well! All is well!”’

I looked at him somewhat surprised.

‘The real translation,’ he said, ‘is “Not so bad, not so bad.”’

I couldn’t help but quietly chuckle. Then I thought of the pioneers who might not have always described their own circumstances as being ‘all is well.’ But I could see how with their expanded vision and tremendous dedication they could say, ‘This is not so bad, not so bad,’ and then with a deep breath take yet another step and continue to forge on.”

Frankly, it is sometimes impossible to say, “all is well.” But maybe the first step to implementing gratitude is finding the “not so bads” in our lives. 

During 2023, I found it increasingly difficult to feel grateful as I dealt with serious family and personal trials. I struggled with debilitating depression, making it difficult to get out of bed and attend my college classes. My mom was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. My family members reacted to this diagnosis with varying coping mechanisms, and I felt helpless trying to comfort them from afar. 

When I look back on 2023, all was most certainly not well—but plenty of things were not so bad. I went to Italy. I got to go home and support my mom for her second chemo treatment. I made new friends. I got to be on the staff of a travel magazine. My mom’s cancer is not fatal. I still got good grades in my classes in spite of my depression. Some days were harder than others, but looking at it through this lens, 2023 was not so bad. 

Although my mom still has cancer and our family trial has not gone away yet, we have hope in Jesus Christ. Maybe one day all will be well, but for now, not so bad is enough.

For more inspiration about persevering through trials, read the rest of Matthew O. Richardson’s talk “Stand Up Straight, Smile, and Remember Who You Are.”

Source: BYU Speeches

—Karlie Kelsch, Latter-day Saint Insights


Find more insights 

Learn more about gratitude straight from a prophet by reading “An Attitude of Gratitude” by President Thomas S. Monson.

For some encouragement during tough times, read “14 Ways to Feel Like You’re Doing Enough” by Adi Marshall.

For more truths taught by hymns, read “Songs Sung and Unsung” by Elder Jeffery R. Holland.

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