LDS singles life has its ups and downs, just like any other life. Focusing too much on the negative can lead us to overestimate the proportion of challenges in our lives. We can think things are worse than they really are. We can even think life has little if any positive value.
Many of us Latter-day Saints have sung, "Then wake up and do something more/ Then dream of your mansions above." How many of us truly live that message? Do we spend our time simply dreaming about the future we want? Do we while away the hours fretting about a past we cannot change? Or do we focus on taking action now, on what we can do in the present moment, to make our dreams reality?
The world would have us believe happiness in life comes from having something: money, possessions, status, a significant other. But true happiness comes from living in the moment. That means bringing your all to doing the right things in the here and now, in the today.
Stop dreaming about tomorrow or fretting about yesterday at the expense of living today. Regardless of your circumstances, you can be happy in the present moment.
Capture a vision
Living in the present moment may not appeal to you if your life is dull or unpleasant. Imagining an attractive future will always seem more comfortable. After all, you can imagine anything you want, and it’s really easy to escape there.
Hey, Dolly Daydream! Try this much better use for your imagination. Instead of escaping the present unattractive moment, let's put that imagination to work changing the present moment. Let's figure out what you can do today to make today a better, more attractive place.
There's a big difference between imagining a better future and creating a positive vision. If you use your imagination simply as an escape, your life will never change. Life changes only when you change.
And you generally aren't any better for just dreaming. If you spend all your time dreaming instead of acting, you’re not getting any closer to making that dream reality. Dwelling in a comfortable tomorrow that never comes is a true waste of time.
Alternatively, you can use your imagination to discover avenues for change. You can create a vision of greatness for your life. And you can take action that lies within your control and unfolds that vision. After all, no one's world changes without action.
And no one’s world changes without changes in themselves. It’s human nature to blame everyone else around you and say you’re not where you want to be or who you want to be because of him or her or them or anybody else but yourself. But no one who has that habit is ever happy. That’s because happiness requires you to own your life.
Truly happy people aren’t blind to the challenges of mortality. They don’t wear rose-colored glasses and play Polly Anna all day. They simply look to better themselves instead of wishing everything around them were better. They seek to improve upon themselves so they can come off conqueror against their challenges.
True happiness is giving your all to the right things in your life. You can’t give your all when you’re constantly looking for someone other than yourself to blame. That’s why happiness requires you to own your life. Accept that where you are and who you are result from choices you’ve made, and then move from that starting point towards the dream destination you desire.
Remember your tender mercies
Don’t forget to acknowledge the tender mercies all around you. They help you see you're not alone in your journey. The Creator of all things — and that all things includes you — will help you achieve your righteous desires. Each of His tender mercies proves that truth which is both instructive and personally reassuring.
Being happy in the present moment, regardless of your circumstances, requires that you surrender your cares to the Lord and yourself to love. He Who calmed the winds and the waves invites
No matter what obstacles you face, He can and will help you achieve the blessings He wants you to have. The winds and the waves still obey Him. They always have, and they always will. While your journey may at times be uncomfortable, He can, does, and will help you to make it enjoyable.
Remembering His tender mercies reminds us He loves us and will never abandoned us. Remembering His strength gives us strength to trust all will be well in the end. And those memories provide courage to continue stepping forward in our lives.
When you have that faith, you can truly be happy in the present moment. And that will bring more joy in your journey.
The Internet overflows with dating gurus who fancy themselves body language experts. But when you read quality sources, like books written by consultants who make their living training law enforcement professionals, you quickly realize how much misinformation abounds about body language.
Most of us use body language subconsciously — out of habit — because we’re not consummate actors always performing for everyone around us. And very often the true message we send non-verbally differs from a false message we could send verbally.
In order to see the real message, you need to remember the 2 Cs: clusters and context. The problem with many online dating gurus is they don’t display any understanding of either clusters or context. They interpret individual gestures with the same meaning regardless of the situation.
Learning clusters and context
Suppose you see a man folding his arms. What does that gesture mean? It could mean he’s trying to shield himself from his surroundings.
But what if he’s sitting in church while someone prays? In that context, he’s more likely just being reverent. Context changes everything. Anyone ignoring context often misses the real meaning being conveyed.
Suppose a very upset woman is speaking to this man folding his arms. This context supports the interpretation of placing a barrier around himself. But don’t stop there. Look for clusters, which are combinations of gestures. The other gestures in the cluster provide added context that support a correct interpretation.
For instance, is the man standing up or sitting down? If he’s standing, how’s his posture? Is he erect or slumped? And if he’s sitting, what’s his position in the chair? Is he slumped back, straight, or leaning forward any?
And what’s the expression on his face? Is he frowning or smiling? Does he look impatient for the woman to stop talking so he can get a word in? Or does he appear to dread being in that moment?
When we focus on just one tree, we’re likely to miss the true landscape of meaning the forest provides. Only when we look for clusters with context can we correctly interpret individual body language gestures.
Many LDS singles ignorant of either clusters or context pretend to know the nonverbal message others send. Can you hear the cry of the single LDS woman? “Oh my! He’s sitting next to me! He must want to marry me!” Yet clusters and gestures can tell an entirely different story.
I remember once feeling rather discouraged as I came to sacrament meeting. I knew sitting alone would make me feel worse. So I looked for someone to sit with as I entered the chapel.
I saw a single sister sitting in one of the pews talking on her phone. I thought she might be the friend I needed. After all, she was a counselor in the stake Relief Society presidency. Boy, was I ever wrong! She extended her call until the meeting began and intentionally ignored me. Even more disheartened than when I came, I cried. She rushed away as soon as the meeting ended.
Looking at just the individual gesture — someone sitting next to you — you’ll likely misinterpret the situation. That situation becomes easier to see when you look at clusters — my slouched seating position, the frown and discouraged look on my face, my hands clasped together, tears streaming from my eyes — and context (which required some verbal communication in order to understand I just needed a friend).
Had this single sister interpreted my body language correctly, perhaps she would have recognized my need and been more compassionate. Instead, she missed an opportunity to provide Christ-like service.
Getting out of the way
We need to interpret body language correctly not only in others but also in ourselves. Because body language is subconscious and performed out of habit, we can unknowingly send the wrong signals.
Years before I met that sister, a friend asked me why I always walked around with my fists clenched. I was completely unaware of her observation, which seemed so ridiculous to me that I initially rejected it.
But as I considered my friend wouldn’t lie to me, I began paying attention. And I noticed she was right! Thinking back on past experiences, I could see how someone might misinterpret my body language gesture. I was my own worst obstacle. Realizing this, I made a more conscious effort to change.
Here’s the truth about body language: One individual gesture can have many different interpretations, each depending upon clusters and context. The next time you try to read someone’s nonverbal message, make sure you consider clusters and context. You’ll be more likely to foster understanding. And that will bring more joy in your journey.
We all know the Golden Rule: Do to others as you would have done to you. But how much do we really practice it?
We all have a self image, or way we see ourselves, and a self ideal, or who we want to be. Self esteem results when our self image matches our self ideal. The greater the match, the greater the sense of self esteem.
But there’s a catch. Because it’s a perception, our self image doesn’t necessarily represent reality. Often it doesn’t. It’s easy to think we’re one way when we’re actually another. Confronting truth often reveals the mismatch — we aren’t what we thought we were — which creates a crisis of self-esteem.
We can resolve the crisis by changing our self ideal to match our deficient self image (i.e. lowering our standards) or our self image to match our self ideal (i.e. living up to our standards). When we recognize a gap between who we actually are and who we want to be, Christ can change us so we live up to our standards. And it turns out living by the Golden Rule is one of the best ways to bridge that gap.
Lately I’ve been struggling with belonging to my ward. I’ve encountered hard time after hard time without the support I need. Why belong to a community that doesn’t seem to care?
The scriptures say we meet together often to support one another and to receive the sacrament (see Moroni 6:5-6). That answer satisfies me less and less with each instance of neglect by my ward.
Many LDS singles face similar questions in their own wards. Unfortunately, too many respond by leaving the safety of the Church. I can understand that. It’s really hard to keep holding on to something that doesn’t seem to be working, especially when you don’t seem to fit in with the others in the group.
I still hold on because the restored gospel is true regardless of how my life turns out. How my life turns out has more to do with choices I and others make. That’s independent of the truth of the restored gospel.
And now, after almost four years of holding on, I finally had a visit from my home teacher. Apparently out of guilt for neglecting me, my quorum president assigned himself to be my home teacher. Will he be a real home teacher and support me? Or will he simply check in once a month to do his duty? Time will tell.
It’s good to have someone finally visiting me, though. At least, I felt good until he called me to repentance for skipping priesthood meeting. My mother has difficulty sitting in church with her medical conditions, so I often drive her home after sacrament meeting. Why then go back, especially if I don’t feel the support I need from my ward?
Pondering my home teacher’s invitation to return, however, I couldn’t justify my continued absence. I also observed how it began slowly and eventually grew into complete absence.
I’ve always considered myself active LDS. Yet I had to accept the truth embodied in my home teacher’s invitation when faced with it. My self image wasn’t based in reality and was far from my self ideal. I knew the right response — change my actions so I meet that ideal.
This experience led me to examine other areas of my life. Do I see myself differently than who my actions prove I really am? It’s no surprise I do; I’ve always claimed to be a walking construction zone. But the particulars did surprise me.
I’ve always thought of myself as being a very forgiving and understanding person. Yet it’s clear I haven’t forgiven my ward for their failure to support me. My mind keeps replaying memories of being abandoned to face my difficulties alone. Clearly my actions show me as someone I thought I wasn’t. Again, my self image doesn’t represent reality.
I want others to forgive me when I offend them, so I should forgive them. That’s the Golden Rule. That’s also hard when those who offend continue to offend. But I know I’ll be stronger for living the Golden Rule. And I know my Savior has the power to help me do it.
How many LDS singles carry the same grudge in their hearts? How many think they live one way when their actions witness something different? And if that describe you, what will you do about it?
Lowering our standards to match our behavior never brings true joy in living. That joy is found only when we change our behavior to match the standard. Living the Golden Rule helps us do that. And when we do, we’ll have more joy in our journey.
Yes, Elder Holland hit his usual home run. Elder Bednar taught healing truths about missionary service. We rejoiced to see and hear the Prophet speak in Conference. The list goes on, but something seems more inviting in Elder Choi’s remarks. Perhaps it’s because he declared
So often in our lives as LDS singles, we find ourselves in need of strength, balance, and healing. We can find all of these in the Savior when we look up to Him.
Life is hard for everyone. LDS singles are no exception. Although our challenges are all unique, the solution is very much the same. We must look to the Savior for the strength to soldier on.
When facing difficulty, we often wish life would be easier and wonder why the battle before us must be ours. Yet instead of wishing our situations were better, we should wish we were better. Learning how to conquer challenges is a major purpose of mortality. We’ll never do that unless we increase our inner strength and become more than what we now are.
No one can increase that strength within us more than Christ. His Atonement manifests His power through which He can transform us into new creatures able to do what before we could not do.
Elder Choi pointed us to the Savior when sharing this experience:
We can find the strength we need to conquer our challenges when we look up to the Lord.
Directing our focus to eternity can be challenging, especially when the reality of our mortal existence presses us to place our attention in the temporal world. We ease that difficulty when we balance what we see in our mortality with what we know about our eternity.
If we live life based only on what we see around us, we walk by sight. The more we walk by sight, the more reactive our approach to life becomes. Simply reacting to life is living on autopilot playing out previously programmed habits that lead ultimately to the unfulfilled life.
The restored gospel of Jesus Christ teaches life can be more wonderful when we walk by faith. We can use the gift of agency to choose consciously an approach to life aligned with gospel standards that responds rather than reacts to life. And we can balance what we see in mortality with what we know about eternity when making those choices.
Elder Choi spoke about our need for balance and how we can get it.
Our focus determines our reality. When we focus on the limitations of mortality, our reality will be one of limitation. But when we focus on embracing our own personal ministry of contribution to others, our reality will be a life that contributes back to us.
We can get in our own way of making that contribution to others when we cling to our past. For LDS singles, that past often includes heartache, loneliness, discouragement, and hopelessness. Many of us keep repeating those stories of failure to ourselves.
Yet carrying unnecessary baggage from the past does nothing but hold us back from living the full and joyful life we can live today. It’s much easier to move forward when our load is lighter. Still, letting go of the past can be difficult, especially when we hold on out of habit.
Elder Choi points us to the only lasting solution — the Savior.
Part of the healing we need comes from the power of Christ through His Atonement. Yet another part comes only as we step outside ourselves and realize our lives are smaller pieces in a much larger puzzle. Partnering with the Lord can help us let go of our past so we can make our full contribution to the plan of happiness God has for all His children. And by faithfully embracing a personal ministry that contributes to the lives of others and alleviates their pain, we can find our own pain alleviated.
The longer we look only around at our own lives, the more we will feel helpless, hopeless, and hurt. By looking up to the Lord, we can begin to receive the strength, balance, and healing we need to live our best life. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
Howdy! I'm Lance, host of Joy in the Journey Radio. I've been blogging about LDS singles life since 2012, and now I produce a weekly radio show to help LDS singles have more joy in their journey and bring all Latter-day Saints together. Let's engage a conversation that will increase the faith of LDS singles and bring singles and marrieds together in a true unity of the faith.
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