Music & the Spoken Word: ‘Trying a little harder to be a little better’

Editor’s note: “The Spoken Word” is shared by Lloyd Newell each Sunday during the weekly Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square broadcast. This is an encore performance of “Music & the Spoken Word” with a new “Spoken Word” selected and recorded while the choir is practicing social distancing. This will be given Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021.

Sister Ardeth Kapp, now almost 90 years young, has always had a gift for connecting with young people. She knows, for example, that many kids don’t feel comfortable at school. They worry they’re not smart enough or good enough, and she wants to build their confidence and inspire them with a sense of their great potential.

So whenever Ardeth talks with the children in her neighborhood, she teaches them two simple phrases that she feels can change the way they look at themselves and at life. Whenever someone asks, “How are you?” Ardeth encourages the children to say, “Better than I was but not as good as I’m going to be!” And to the question “What are you doing?” she suggests that they respond, “Trying a little harder to be a little better!” (See “What I Learned from Spending a Morning with Former Young Women General President Ardeth Kapp,” by Morgan Jones, LDS Living, Feb. 4, 2020, ldsliving.com).

That’s good advice for school children — and for anyone who is trying to overcome doubts or insecurities. Sometimes it can feel like a steep climb to get from who we are to who we can become. It helps to remember that we can be a little better today than we were yesterday, just as we look forward to being even better tomorrow. And the best way to get there is by trying a little harder each day.

Such a simple thing, really. But great things often come from simple things. No one climbs the mountain in one step. Giant leaps and bold steps usually consist of a series of small choices in the right direction. The little things we do each day lift us higher and higher, bringing us ever closer to the glorious summit.

So the next time someone asks, “How are you?” you might remember Ardeth’s wise words and think not just about how you are or how you have been but how you’re going to be! And while there are many appropriate ways to respond to a question like “What are you doing?” the right answer can always include “I’m trying a little harder to be a little better.”

Tuning in …

The “Music & the Spoken Word” broadcast is available on KSL-TV, KSL Radio 1160AM/102.7FM, ksl.com, BYUtv, BYUradio, Dish and DirectTV, SiriusXM Radio (Ch. 143), the tabernaclechoir.org, youtube.com/TheTabernacleChoiratTempleSquare and Amazon Alexa (must enable skill). The program is aired live on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. on many of these outlets. Look up broadcast information by state and city at musicandthespokenword.org/schedules.