That vote of no confidence really punched me in the gut. Initially I was in a daze, uncertain of my path forward. But as time lifted that fog, I began to gain some clarity and regain some perspective. If you feel that way, know that all is not lost. There’s always hope because there’s always Christ. That hope says you can change for the better. And you can keep that optimism when you treat every day like it’s your birthday.
Live like a kid
At my age, birthdays just don’t seem as special to me as they did when I was a kid. I’ve been there, done that, got the shirt and the hat, plus I chair the membership committee. (Would you like to join? We have jackets!)
And that’s part of the problem. Something about becoming an adult sacrifices that childhood perspective of optimism and possibility on the altar of pessimistic reality. We’re more prone to point out barriers to justify why we won’t or can’t achieve than to believe that achievement is possible and look for a way to overcome the obstacle.
We also lose the joy of childhood. The adult perspective is so often serious. Kids naturally approach their day looking for fun. They don’t worry much beyond the present; they live in the moment. Certainly there are times when we need to buckle down and do some serious work. But we could all benefit from introducing an element of fun into what we do and living in the moment.
That’s what birthdays are all about for kids. They get absorbed in enjoying the moment. If we lived life like a kid, maybe some of our obstacles would disappear because our overly serious perspective that created them would be gone.
Treat each day special
Treating every day like it’s your birthday also recognizes the special gift each day really is. Too often we go through our days playing out habits that carry us from one moment to the next. And that lull of life lacks the joy each day can and does bring.
That’s why a life on autopilot will never lead you to your best life. There’s nothing to savor in simply going through the motions. Very often, we go through those motions without any awareness of what we’re doing. That’s how we’re biologically hardwired to operate.
Treating every day like it’s your birthday breaks you out of that mold. Because it’s not something you normally do, it doesn’t conform to routine or habit, which takes what you do out of the shadows and into the light of awareness. Being fully aware of what you’re doing does two things: (1) It opens you to the joy to be found in each moment of living, and (2) it increases your sensitivity to possibilities, allowing for creativity in finding solutions to overcome obstacles.
Overcome your current challenges
Applying these ideas to my current challenge, I can see a path ahead. I need to find someone knowledgeable I can trust to give me objective counsel and help me construct a plan going forward. And strangely I feel excited about that.
Treating today like it’s my birthday brought me there. I’m looking for the joy instead of wallowing in the mire of misery. I’m embracing optimism in a brighter future that I can forge. I’m opening myself to the hope that always is because Christ always is. I’m tempering the responsibilities of adulthood with the perspectives of childhood.
So treat every day like it’s your birthday. You’ll invite yourself to open more to possibility. You’ll do more to take care of yourself. You’ll experience more creativity as you embrace more optimism. And you’ll live your life more hopeful of the future that has you living your best life. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
The changes we’re all looking for in our lives are just that — changes. Nothing in your life will change until you change. That means you need to stop doing what you’re doing so you can do something different.
Stopping is the first meaningful step in meaningful change. Even if you do nothing more than stop to question whether or not you’re moving the right direction, you’ll never change if you keep doing the same thing over and over.
Yet that’s what most people do. They say they want a different life, but then they keep doing the same things over and over. And because they keep doing the same things over and over, they keep getting the same results over and over. Their autopilot lives keep them in a state of limbo equilibrium. And they’ll continue to play out that cycle until they stop.
Direction determines destination, so once you’ve stopped taking your life in an undesired direction, you need to turn and adjust your course in a desired direction. That may sound simplistic, but it isn’t.
And here’s why. How do you know what direction will lead to the best destination? More times than not, you won’t. This is where partnering with the Lord comes in. It’s also where I learned how deviating from your intended purpose could actually lead you to achieve it. Sometimes we need to give up what we think is best for us in order to take what really is best for us.
The last episode is a case in point. I thought the best direction to take the program was seeking direction from the Lord when setting goals. That’s not bad. But neither was it best. The best direction was the one the program took. We need to accept direction from the Lord in our dating journey, especially when it comes to deciding who we date. And we need to embrace the Lord’s direction to date those who, left to our own devices, we’d rather not date.
We need to do the same thing in our lives. Once we stop doing what we’ve been doing, we need to turn to the Lord with a willingness to go in whatever direction He’ll lead us, even if that direction appears to take us away from the destination we want. I stress the word appears because that’s what it often is — an appearance, an illusion. If the direction comes from the Lord, how could it not ultimately lead us to the best destination, the one where we’ll be the happiest we could possibly be?
Once we get that direction from the Lord, all that remains is execution. We’ll never get to any destination unless we take the steps that lead there. Results in any endeavor come from one thing and one thing only, and that is action.
The results you get are also commensurate with the action you take. No results comes from taking no action. Poor results come from taking poor action. Good results come from taking good action. To arrive at the best destination, you need to take the action that will take you there. That action most likely follows this sequence: Stop what you’re doing, turn to the Lord, and act under His direction. Partner with Him for your life.
Consider the changes you want in your life, changes you’ve tried to make but continually escape you time and time again. Then stop, turn, and act. When you partner with the Lord, you’ll find yourself making more progress towards your best life. And you’ll find yourself growing as you learn what your best life really is. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Write your best story
Our reality is simply the combination of our results in life and the meaning we ascribe to them. A story is essentially a description of that reality. Stories are how we make sense out of life. That’s why we all have a story.
And that’s why, when your life starts going off plot, it’s natural to freak out. The story you’ve been using to make sense of your life doesn’t match reality. “Wait a minute!” some cry. “I’m supposed to be married by now. This isn’t how my story is supposed to go!” Or maybe you weren’t supposed to get married to a “consolation prize.” Or maybe you weren’t supposed to get divorced. Or maybe your spouse wasn’t supposed to die so soon. There’s endless ways to detail the difference between the story you’ve been using and the one you’re experiencing.
But Christ can make up the difference because He is the difference. Your goals determine your direction, and direction determines destination. How can you embrace the best destination unless you embrace He Who is the only Way to that best destination? Sister Johnson acknowledged that truth as she began her remarks with an invitation:
Partnering with the Lord is the only way to your best life on both sides of the veil. You simply can’t write your best story without Him.
Understand why you hesitate
As simple as that answer is, it isn’t easy. Partnering with the Lord often means surrendering your will to His. And the natural man and woman are nothing if not unwilling to be ruled.
Combine that truth with our biological hardwiring to resist change, especially uncomfortable change, and you’ve got obstacles to becoming your best self before you even begin. Sooner or later, we’ll all sense that accepting His will instead of our own will mean accepting some uncomfortable outcome, deviating the story of our life away from the story we’ve told ourselves is the one that’s supposed to be.
This is essentially why we hesitate to turn our story over to Christ. Sister Johnson said as much in her remarks:
Christ knows you and your potential so well He will guide you to what will help shape you into your best self, and He won’t allow anything to come into your life that you can’t leverage for that end. Sister Johnson confirmed these truths when she taught,
Embrace your best story
So it really comes down to this: Are you willing to let Christ write a story for your life far better than any you could write on your own? You can stay in your comfortable hovel believing in your own story and denying any deviations life will always eventually present. Or you can embrace the discomfort that will lead you to your best life by letting Him prevail in your life.
The truth is we don’t know everything we think we do. As discomforting as a turn in your story might seem, if that turn comes from Christ, embracing it will turn you more into your best self and your life more into your best life. As Nephi taught, “He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him” (2 Nephi 26:24).
Let Christ author your story. Partner with Him, and He’ll make more out of your life than you ever can on your own. Whatever discomfort you experience from so doing will turn around to your gain. When that day comes, you’ll look back on your decision to let Him prevail with gratitude. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Focusing on incremental, one-percent improvements instead of some grand transformation intrigues me. I’m led to question not just what goals are best for me but the very process by which I determine those goals. After all, the process of improvement must be doable to mean anything. Focusing on being one percent better is not just doable but far more enriching than the alternative.
Catch your vision
Elder Dunn began his remarks by sharing the story of British cycling. For about a century, British bicycle racing teams won little distinction. Their performance was so poor some manufacturers refused to sell bicycles to them, for fear the association would irreparably tarnish them.
But that changed in 2003 when a new coach, Sir Dave Brailsford, was hired. Sir Brailsford rejected using the latest trends and technology, preferring, as he put it, “the aggregation of marginal gains.” British cyclists began looking at everything they did and how they could improve by just one percent. The results were amazing. As Elder Dunn described,
He further explained,
After applying this approach over the past two decades, British cycling has amassed an impressive array of awards, including six Tour de France victories and more Olympic medals across all cycling disciplines than any other country.
Clear your path
This approach and these results together get me thinking. What if I’ve been going about this New Years resolution business all wrong? What if a shift in my focus towards small, one-percent improvements is what I’m really missing?
I began by adjusting my goal creation process. Normally I start by reviewing my mission statement (which details my life purpose) and then my vision statement (which describes the characteristics of my ideal best self) to see if they still resonate with me. If they don’t, I make changes until they do. I then ask myself, “What portion of the gap between where I want to be and where I am will I work on this year?” and I make goals to address that portion.
But I see now this approach invariably leads to biting off more than I can chew. I always justified it thinking it’s better to aim for the stars and miss than aim for a pile of dung and hit target. But by attempting too big a change, I set myself up for failure and disappointment.
This year I’m trying a new approach. Keeping the mission statement review, I adjusted the vision statement review to describe what my best self looks like at the end of the year rather than the end of my life. I then scored myself on how well I meet that end-of-year standard today.
Of course, that comparison finds me wanting, but that’s OK. Elder Dunn taught that
Stephen Covey declared the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. For achieving goals, the main thing is making sure to get just one percent better every day.
Work your plan
I tied each goal to a descriptive characteristic from my end-of-year vision statement to maintain alignment with my direction. Now the question each day is this: What will I do today to get just one percent better in each of my goals? I plan on evaluating my progress after each week and month to assess progress and adjust where needed.
Focusing on improvements of just one percent each day seems like my missing essential element. I’ve already felt greatly encouraged applying this new approach for creating my goals, so we’ll see what develops in what I actually achieve.
If making New Year’s resolutions you’re confident you won’t keep discourages you, or if the failures of previous attempts to achieve and become your best self dismay you, I invite you to consider focusing not on some grand transformation but rather on the one percent change you can make today. When you get one percent better each and every day, it won’t be long before you find yourself making remarkable progress. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Starting with gratitude simply promotes an extra portion of power. That’s especially true of giving. Indeed, true giving begins with gratitude. As we discussed recently, the more grateful you are, the more you will have, and the more you have, the more you can give. You can truly light the world when with gratitude you share your gifts from God with others.
Reflect on unique gifts
We often think of gifts being highly prized and desirable attributes or skills. So it’s not that surprising when some of us who don’t have those highly prized and desirable attributes or skills feel we don’t have any gifts.
That’s of course not true. I don’t care who you are or where you’re from. Everyone has gifts from God. We all have talent for something. When we exercise our talents, executing the necessary action just seems to flow more easily, even if we lack specific training. God gave talents to everyone so we all can contribute positively to others’ lives.
I’m convinced we each have multiple talents from God. Often, they aren’t what we’d think of as talents. I once knew a sister missionary whose smile was so infectious you couldn’t help but feel a little better when her smile shone upon you. Another friend was a really good listener. We don’t normally think of smiling and listening as talents, and yet I would submit they qualify.
What talents do you have from God? What gifts has He given you that make your contribution to the lives of others unique? Reflect on those gifts for a moment and simmer in gratitude for them.
Reflect on common gifts
Of course, we share some gifts from God in common. Again, I don’t care who you are or where you are from. God has blessed each of us not only with gifts unique to each one of us but also with gifts we share in common.
The first such gift is the greatest gift of God — the gift of His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ. He is the reason for the season precisely because He is the greatest gift. Through Him, we all have the opportunity to repent and to live forever with God and those we most love. Through Him we all have the power to acquire the fulness of not just our spiritual potential but every other potential as well, be that emotional, intellectual, or physical.
Unfortunately, that gift too often goes unappreciated, as does the second greatest gift from God — agency. Every moment, we get to choose for ourselves what we’ll think, say, and do — and with that what we’ll become. Between our Advocate with the Father and our agency, we have the essentials to become our best selves, live our best life, and achieve the fulness of our potential. Yet too often we don’t even consider these gifts as the gateways to greatness they are.
Don’t let that be you. Take a moment to reflect and meditate on these wonderful gifts and the opportunities they make possible in your life. Marinade your soul in gratitude for your gifts from God.
Share gratitude with others
But it’s not just enough to feel gratitude. You must share it as well! Otherwise, the circle won’t be complete.
What does that mean? Gratitude is an emotion for what has come into your life. You then decide what you will send out to others. What you send out will come back to you again, even when that something is nothing; if you send nothing out, you won’t get anything back again. But when you send out something — say, gratitude, for instance — you will find it later returned to you.
Whatever your gifts from God, take time to reflect on them, feel gratitude for them, and then share that gratitude with others. You’ll find more reason to celebrate the season while moving yourself closer to becoming your best self and living your best life. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
But then as I thought about it, I began to see I needed to see this differently. I’m not knocking the Light the World calendar. If you want to do that, that’s great. I just think I need to focus more on what I can give than on what I have received. I think I need to be that shining star for someone else rather than showcase what someone else has been for me.
See your full potential
Yeah, I get it. Like I said, I’m not knocking the Light the World calendar or anything like that. It’s all good and, like I said, if you want to do it, then do it. There’s a lot of good that can come from that.
But when I turn the consideration away from what others have done or will do and towards what I will do, I feel I need a different focus. It’s not hard for me to see that producing Joy in the Journey Radio has helped me undergo a transformation. I’m not the same man I was last year, and next year I won’t be the same man I am this year.
What’s happened? What’s changed? And what’s driven that change? I think the essence of it is simply that I’m becoming more of the man that God wants me to be. And that man is a man who spends his days serving others, helping others, and inspiring others to become the men and women God wants them to be. I think that man is a man devoted to helping others along the covenant path of eternal progression.
And when I say that, I’m not just talking about the spiritual. I’m talking about the total package — the physical, the emotional, and the mental/intellectual as well as the spiritual. That’s because I think God wants each of us to become the total package.
Understand the bigger picture
Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not suggesting we all become identical clones of some unrealistic ideal. Your total package may not be the same as my total package. But your total package represents the fulfillment of your potential just as my total package represents the fulfillment of my potential.
And that’s really the whole idea behind why we’re here. The whole intent of our Heavenly Father’s plan is for us to achieve the fullness of our potential. Coming here to this fallen mortal world and having experiences in mortality allow us to take important steps along that path towards achieving our full potential.
That’s what the covenant path of eternal progression really is. That’s what becoming the total package really is. It’s all just a series of steps that each help us to become more of that man or woman we can and should be.
Truly light the world
I’m not going to become the man I can and should be unless I turn my focus to giving. I need to do more of what the man I can become would do in order to become that man. I need to be that shining star for others because that’s what the man I can and should become is.
Again, I’m not knocking the Light the World calendar. And hey, if you really need to do that in order to become the man or woman you need to become, then I say go for it. Pour your whole self into it. Whatever your potential is for you, pour your whole self into it and embrace the transformation.
For many of us, I think that transformation will come when we decide to be the shining star for others. When we decide to hold up our light, others are both inspired to come out of the dark and given permission to hold up their own light. When they do, that will inspire others and give them permission to do the same. When we each decide to be the shining star we need to be, we can truly light the world. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
Clearly, the Savior understood that power. His ministering example teaches all the love generated when we give our full attention to others. Indeed, one of the greatest gifts we can give to others is the gift of full attention.
Understand the fix
Society today hungers for attention, so much so everyone seems scrambling after it. Whatever new trick can potentially secure the attention of others finds its way onto the to-do list of many seeking to capture attention for their own gain. And these actors, feeling a scarcity of the attention they desire, saturate us with attention demand overload.
Combine that situation with the addictive nature of social media, and it’s not hard to understand why people give more attention to their phone than to people around them. Many take full advantage of the dopamine hits social media networks are designed to generate. And far too many of us surrender our agency to the addiction we hold in our hands and carry with us wherever we go.
We’ve discussed before on this program the mediocrity this life on autopilot creates. We break free by living in the moment, making conscious choices to move in the direction we determine and not just where the impulse of addiction would drive us. That’s what I love about the suggested action for today on the Light the World calendar. It encourages us to make a conscious choice to break free from impulse and move in a direction we consciously choose.
Choose real love
That conscious choice unlocks the real power of giving our full attention in our interactions. So doing sends a clear message: Out of all the choices I could make in this moment regarding where to place my attention, I choose you. This is part of why the gift of full attention is a truly a gift of love.
The other part deals with the basic human needs we all have to feel loved, needed, and belonging to something greater than ourselves. Putting down your phone and giving your full attention to others essentially tells them they are preferred, and realizing that preference generates in others the feeling of being loved, needed, and part of something bigger.
Now consider what happens when we don’t make that conscious choice to give full attention. We tell others through our actions we choose something else over them, that something else is preferred. And that preference generates in others feelings of not being loved, needed, or part of something bigger.
I still remember the love generated during a single adult conference 12 years ago when an attendee chose to give me full attention. Our exchange lasted only five minutes, yet the influence of that seemingly small choice in how to spend five minutes has lasted 12 years, and the end is not in sight. The gift of full attention is truly a gift that keeps on giving.
Expand the power
And we need not limit the power of that gift to just the one small act the Light the World calendar suggests for today. We can expand our influence even further by practicing active listening in all settings.
Our society suffers substantially from a lack of listening. People think listening means simply hearing the words other people say. Meanwhile, they look for chances to inject what they want to say into a conversation. But real, active listening involves hearing what others say with the intent to understand them. Instead of looking for breaks to project our own selves onto others, we can use those same opportunities to try to understand others. In so doing, we help others feel loved and thereby expand the power the gift of full attention can provide.
So today and every day, let’s give more of the gift that keeps on giving. Let’s give the gift of full attention. When we do, our seeming small act of surrender to love will invite others to do the same. And when they do, the cycle will continue, resulting in a better world filled with the light and goodness of love. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
The suggested action for today carries the title “Let Your Love Shine” and encourages tagging three loved ones with a “top 3 things I love about you” message and invitation to do likewise. The three I wish to highlight don’t use social media, but I’ll highlight them all the same because I believe you can’t best feel your love until you let your love shine.
The cat comes first
First on my list is my cat Tashi. She died about eight years ago as unexpectedly as she’s impacted my life since.
Last weekend while speaking with a friend grieving the recent death of her cat, I shared how I still feel Tashi with me, even though she hasn’t been with me physically for over eight years. That’s the first thing I love about Tashi. Our relationship was so strong I still feel her with me despite her death. Hearing my experience seemed to comfort my friend, suggesting perhaps she too could experience something similar.
Tashi knew how to comfort me. She’d waltz into my lap as I sat discouraged, seat herself against me, and then look up at me as though saying, “How can you be sad when I’m here?” It amazes me she never failed to do that when I needed it.
And she was such a character. I remember one Christmas when she chose her stocking for the fireplace that year. It’s a humorous story I’ll detail later in the program.
Next comes my mother
My mother’s the second of my top three. I’ve spoken about her before, most recently when I surprised her for her birthday. Her condition has since worsened, but my love for her hasn’t.
My mother always thought constantly of her children. Every day she worked hard for our benefit. I remember one morning thinking I could delay my usual departure for the school bus. My mother called out a reminder to get going. But I delayed, missed the bus, and walked back in shame to confront my mother. Predictably upset, she still drove me to school.
I love how that support was constant. Years later I was preparing to return to campus after the holidays to finish my master’s program. Just before I left, my mother and I knelt in prayer. I still remember her prayer for me, and it was the memory of that prayer that gave me the strength I needed to finish my program. She’s always supported me through the years.
And I love that my mother taught me life skills, especially cooking. I can’t list all the times having that knowledge has helped me, but I can list teaching me how to cook among the many ways she’s blessed my life.
Then comes Uncle Darryl
Then there’s Uncle Darryl. He’s actually my great great uncle. I never knew him well, but he’s had a profound influence on me.
I love that influence, especially the respect it engenders for veterans. Uncle Darryl’s WWII experience left him so traumatized he couldn’t talk about some things for the rest of his life. His sacrifice in defense of freedom lasted some 65 years.
I also loved his welcoming nature. I could always come by unannounced, and he’d stop and entertain my visit. What an example of gifting love through attention! And he always seemed sincerely interested in me, even towards the end as his faculties slipped.
I won’t be tagging anyone since none of these three loved ones use social media. But I love them each. And I love the Lord Who blessed me with love from them and many others. Letting my love shine for them today is a small gift I can give in return.
If you haven’t given that small gift today to three loved ones in your life, take a moment now and let your love shine. You’ll feel more of the essence of the Christmas season. You’ll invite others to embrace that spirit in following the Lord Whose expressions of love provide the reason for the season. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
But the converse is also true, and symbiotically so. Gratitude for our blessings encourages us to share those blessings with others. And sharing those blessings in turn encourages gratitude for them. Want to feel more gratitude? Share your blessings. Want more blessings to share? Feel more gratitude. The best way to grow your gratitude is to share what you’re grateful for with others.
Remembering old traditions
Is that where the popular Thanksgiving tradition came from? You know, where everyone takes turns around the table sharing something they’re grateful for? There’s something about sharing our blessings with others and hearing them share their blessings with us that inspires increased gratitude for our own blessings.
I don’t quite remember whether my family had that tradition. The tradition I do remember is feasting on our typical family spread. My mother would cook a turkey roast in the slow cooker and then serve it with mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, green beans, corn, sweet potatoes baked with brown sugar and marshmallows, and of course my mother’s absolutely wonderful homemade yeast rolls. There was always pie for dessert.
Then after stuffing ourselves with the late lunch, we’d embrace our second great Thanksgiving tradition: a good game of Fat Dog. If you’ve never played Fat Dog, it’s really easy. You find a comfortable seat, raise your feet, put your hands on your belly, and pretend you’re holding jelly. (Actually, that last part I added just for the rhyme!) Seriously, there’s nothing like a good game of Fat Dog to help you feel grateful for good food.
Counting the blessings
As I think back upon those times, I feel grateful that I lived them. If you’ve ever had one of my mother’s rolls, you know all other rolls are inferior. I’m grateful I could have that experience. What a fond memory is now mine!
That’s not my only fond memory. I’m grateful my mother taught me how to cook. I’ve never been as good as she was, but that skill has proven very useful on multiple occasions. I’m also grateful for the values my parents taught me. They helped make me the man I am today.
I’m grateful for my education. My teachers taught me how to think rather than what to think. I’ve also had special opportunities to pursue higher education, starting in high school and continuing on through college. How many people can say they graduated with a bachelor’s degree completely free of debt? These days not many, but I’m grateful to be one of them.
And this may sound surprising, but I’m grateful for my romantic relationships that didn’t work out. Ostensibly that would be all of them since I’m still single, but I learned valuable lessons about myself and about life that I couldn’t have learned in any other way. Those lessons will serve me well when the Lord’s promises to me of an eternal companion are at long last fulfilled.
Sharing the blessings
Expressing my gratitude for my blessings turns my focus towards how abundantly I’ve been blessed. And immersing myself in that gratitude inspires me to share those blessings with others.
Perhaps the mere mention of one blessing will instill gratitude in someone else who reflects and remarks, “Hey, I have that blessing too.” Or perhaps hearing of my blessings will inspire someone else to help others to be as blessed as I am. Or perhaps — and this may be the most important outcome of all — just perhaps immersing myself in my gratitude for my blessings will inspire me to share my blessings with others by working to help them enjoy what I enjoy.
That’s the power of gratitude, and like a testimony you grow your gratitude when you share. So this Thanksgiving, be sure to share your gratitude. Whether by social media or by phone or in person or even in a journal that no one may read until years after your pen has touched paper, take a moment to share your gratitude for your blessings. You’ll feel the power of gratitude more fully in your life, and you’ll be inspired to work to share your blessings with others. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
I’ve felt free like I haven’t felt in quite some time. I still have lots to do, and I still don’t know how I’m going to accomplish it all. But I feel as though I have more than enough time to do everything needful, even though I did the math and know the numbers don’t fit. It’s a great blessing from the Lord, and I realize my choice to chase purpose, not proof, paved the way for my blessings.
Commit to purpose
Part of the difficulty I wrestled last week was feeling I needed to do more than time would allow. Meeting with my advisor helped resolve that by providing some clarity around exactly what effort was needed. And I felt the Lord’s guiding and supporting hand.
But the floodgates of feeling truly free and empowered opened only after I committed to my purpose. Don’t get me wrong. I committed to my PhD program back when I gave up my employment, got rid of two thirds of my belongings, moved the remaining third clear across the country, and accepted a lower standard of living — all to pursue a step towards my dream job.
But I hadn’t committed myself completely. I was busy with so many different things, all of them valuable but not all of them conducive to my commitment. Complete commitment is always reflected in completely prioritized time pursuing it.
Once I made that complete commitment in how I would spend my time, that’s when freedom swept over me. That’s when I felt I had the time I needed to do what was needed. That’s when I felt I could truly achieve my potential.
Align with happiness
Too many never do that. Even if they have a purpose they say they pursue, they aren’t really chasing after it. Instead, they chase after proof.
By proof, I mean evidence they’re accepted. They devote more time and energy to acquiring validation and belonging than to any life purpose. And by going off the path of their purpose, they go off the path of their potential.
We all have a deep-seated need for acceptance. We all want to belong, and we all want to be loved. There’s nothing wrong with those desires. But there is something wrong with not prioritizing your potential.
And here’s what’s wrong with it. You’re leaving happiness on the table. You think you’re chasing happiness, but you’ll never capture it by seeking to have something. Happiness isn’t about having; it’s about giving. Happiness is giving your all to all the right things for you. And one of those right things is achieving your potential.
Pursue your potential
Let’s look at an example. What do typical LDS singles do with their time, especially the time they aren’t compelled to do anything? Many spend their so-called “free time” consuming content or soaking in social media, looking for love and belonging, pursuing proof not purpose.
Happiness doesn’t come from having that special someone or having social media likes or indeed having anything. Happiness isn’t about having; it’s about giving. That’s why pursuing your potential is linked to happiness. The more of your potential you achieve, the more you have to give and the more happy you can be.
And you maximize your happiness by committing completely to your purpose, a commitment you demonstrate with the time you devote to that commitment. So take a look at how you spend your time and make adjustments where needed. Chase purpose, not proof. You’ll find yourself feeling more free and more connected with the Lord. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Howdy! I'm Lance, host of Joy in the Journey Radio. I've been blogging about LDS singles life since 2012, and since 2018 I've been producing a weekly Internet 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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