Last February, I devoted a radio program episode to that very topic. I examined the Word of Wisdom, just letting the words say what they say, not reading anything into them. And the inescapable conclusion was that the Lord recommends a plant-based diet.
That doesn’t mean going vegan. I’m certainly not grilling a veggie burger as part of my holiday celebration. The meat I grill will be the real deal. Sparingly doesn’t mean forbidden.
At the same time, sparingly does mean not often and certainly not every day. The Word of Wisdom promises significant blessings to those who keep it. And we choose whether or not we receive those blessings. That’s part of the freedom we enjoy because of veterans who sacrificed theirs. They gave us the freedom to eat.
The freedom not to eat
Now I can hear some of you getting ready to quote D&C 49:18. Rest assured I’m not going to suggest we transform the traditional start of summer into some vegan festival. As I just said a moment ago, I’m eating real meat this weekend. And I won’t feel the slightest pang of guilt over it.
This is the freedom we enjoy because of our veterans’ sacrifice — the freedom to eat what we want (provided of course the pandemic hasn’t sparked a shortage). But freedom runs both ways. The freedom to do something is also the freedom not to do that same something. And exercising the one freedom can make the other freedom more precious.
For example, since I discussed the Word of Wisdom back in February, I’ve limited my meat consumption to no more than 20% of my meals each week. That means at least 17 of my meals each week are meatless. And I’ve seen some significant weight loss. I’m now about 14 pounds lighter than I was just three months ago.
But I’ve also taken more pleasure in eating meat than I did previously. Because it happens less often, it has become more special. My experiences pleasing my palette with the taste and texture of meat have truly become precious to the point of enriching my life.
The absence of guilt
That scenario has contributed to an anticipation for future meaty meals, like the premium hot dogs I have planned for Memorial Day. Of all the meat products I could select, hot dogs are probably one of the worst in terms of promoting health, if not the absolute worst. But I eat meat so infrequently now, it doesn’t really matter.
That’s why I don’t feel even a remote pang of guilt over my anticipated consumption. Exercising the freedom not to eat meat has made exercising the freedom to eat meat more enjoyable. And you should never feel more guilty over experiencing more joy in life.
When you think about it, you could extend that relationship to other areas of life as well. The pandemic has limited many of us in our daily activities, forcing us to exercise the freedom not to do this or that. When the time comes that we can exercise the freedom to do those things formerly restricted to us, the experience will be truly liberating and precious.
The “new normal”
If you would have approached me a year ago about embracing a mostly meatless diet, I would have laughed at you. But now I don’t think I could ever go back. The weight loss has certainly motivated me in my mostly meatless direction, but the delight in the freedom to eat meat after exercising the freedom not to eat meat has pleasantly surprised me.
That’s actually a bigger benefit for me than the weight loss. It makes me wonder what other delights I might find in that dichotomy of freedom both to do and not to do something.
This Memorial Day, as we celebrate freedom, may I suggest we include our freedom to eat in that reflection? Consider how you’ll use that freedom to reap all the blessings of living all the Word of Wisdom. When you own your life, you accept the past for whatever it is and look ahead to better days to come. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
You’ll be hard pressed to achieve that result without adopting a new way of thinking that matches your new landscape. In pre-pandemic times, one might hear of souls going the extra mile of the extra mile, literally working themselves to the bone in the name of service to others. Now with the pandemic in place, some have continued that way of thinking, going that extra mile of the extra mile while sheltering in place and social distancing.
But that old way of thinking that giving all of yourself was somehow a virtue was unhealthy before the pandemic. And it’s still unhealthy now. You can’t help others to climb unless you yourself are standing on higher ground. You can’t nourish others when you yourself need nourishing. Yes, other people and meeting their needs matter. But you matter too.
Strive for balance
That idea falls right in line with following after your bliss. Your best life is the one with the best boundaries for you, boundaries that demarcate a balance between what you should do for others and what you should do for yourself.
And balance is not necessarily about equalizing the proportions those areas occupy in your life. It’s about making sure each area is appropriately sized so that they can sufficiently support the other.
Giving service to others satisfies basic needs we all have for sociality. Supporting others in their times of stress can give us strength in dealing with our own stress. But caring for ourselves requires us to meet all our basic needs. You can hardly say your approach is balanced when you neglect other needs to care exclusively for just one need.
That’s where following after your bliss can help you achieve the balance you need between caring for others and caring for yourself. Many out of balance in the service arena feel guilty if they aren’t continually giving of themselves to others all the time. Their life is unbalanced because their thinking is unbalanced. By following after your dreams and helping others you encounter along that path as you can, you establish a healthy balance between doing for others and doing for you.
Avoid both extremes
Of course, not everyone unbalanced is unbalanced in that way. Some go to the other extreme, focusing so much on themselves that they give little if any thought to others. And they structure their lives accordingly. Just chronicle the activities they regularly embrace in their day, and their excessive focus on themselves becomes obviously apparent.
It’s really easy for singles to fall into this practice, especially if they don’t have any children. And avoiding that practice certainly isn’t helped by living in a pandemic requiring social distancing and sequestering. The healthy focus on caring for self can be mutated into an unhealthy consumption of self.
The solution here is the same. Follow after your bliss and help others you encounter along that path. This approach will help you establish a healthy balance between doing for others and doing for you.
In all our efforts to achieve that healthy balance, we should remember that what constitutes a healthy balance for one person may not be that healthy for another. While we all have the same basic needs, the amounts we need to satisfy those needs can differ greatly.
Pandemic may have changed the landscape, but it has not changed our ability to thrive. When we change our thinking to match the landscape in our lives, we allow ourselves to meet better our current challenges, whatever they might be.
So take a step back and evaluate how you’ve structured your life. How much do you give to others? And how much do you give to yourself? Others matter, yes. But you matter too. Those who know their proper balance between caring for others and caring for themselves set themselves up for success. Pandemic or no, they will thrive on the road to their best life. And that will bring them more joy in their journey.
The meeting promptly ended. With that connection suddenly cut, I felt the loneliness of spiritual vacuum. “What a great ending to my Sabbath,” I sarcastically remarked to myself.
That episode got me pondering, as my life events frequently do. The answer for spiritual emptiness is to keep reaching after the light, even when confronted with the blackest of darkness. That’s also the answer for emptiness in every other part of life, which is too short for you not to follow your bliss.
In reaching after light to combat the Zoom bomb darkness, I opened The Book of Mormon. There I found this great verse: “And it came to pass that the high priest said unto him: Why do ye go about perverting the ways of the Lord? Why do ye teach this people that there shall be no Christ, to interrupt their rejoicings?” (Alma 30:22, emphasis added).
This is an interrogation of anti-Christ Korihor, who later appeared before Alma, the high priest of the Church. Note the repeated use of that word rejoicing in Alma’s rebuke: “And now, if we do not receive anything for our labors in the church, what doth it profit us to labor in the church save it were to declare the truth, that we may have rejoicings in the joy of our brethren?” (Alma 30:34, emphasis added).
Alma knew what brought rejoicing to his spirit. He rejoiced in maintaining himself within and helping others along the covenant path. And he refused to alter his course. He was determined in his spirit to follow his bliss.
Always do something
We too can follow our bliss, and not just for our spirits but also for our hearts, minds, and bodies. For example, depending on who you’re hearing, 60-80% of all Americans are dissatisfied with their jobs. Clearly many are not following their bliss.
It’s no wonder when you consider the role of habit. We’re biologically hardwired to have a habit. And for many, that habit is to list wherever the waves of life carry them, often away from their bliss. So many are mindlessly marching in a routine routing them to and through a life of mediocrity.
If that describes you, you can break free. You can live your best life, a life of contribution, fulfillment, and meaning. Life is short. Don’t waste it working some job just to pay the bills. Make your move towards making your mark in a job you love! Start moving towards your best life!
“But with massive unemployment from the pandemic,” some of you complain, “it’s harder than ever to find new work.” I’m not advocating stupidity. Keep your job paying the bills until you can upgrade. Just don’t stagnate. Do something every day to move closer to your dreams and goals. Life is short. Follow your bliss.
Keep the faith
That goes for every area of life. If you don’t like your lack of education or a certain skill, change it. If you don’t like your romantic situation, change it. If you don’t like your friends, change that. Quit running through life on autopilot. Life is short. Start using your agency and make the changes you need to follow your bliss.
Of course, when you correctly understand them, your covenants will never obstruct you from following your bliss. If you think they do, then what you think is your bliss really isn’t. The sacred covenants we make at baptism and in the temple will never keep you from your bliss but instead sharpen your focus in following your true bliss.
So keep on keeping your covenants, and within that framework, make the changes you need to follow your bliss. Life is short. Don’t let anything, whether it be little lies excusing you from moving closer to your dreams and goals or big life events like COVID-19, stop you from living your best life. Follow your bliss. When you do, you’ll exercise the power of agency you’ve always had within you. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Part of what enabled him to do this is the Restoration’s fulfillment of the hopes of ancient prophets and saints. They looked forward to the Restoration as a time when all gospel blessings would be enjoined together. Indeed, we who live today have the glorious blessing of the fulness of the Lord’s gospel. And those fruits can enable us to have a perfect brightness of hope for ourselves, our world, and our future.
See the blessings
Elder Holland begins with a list of what he would be looking for in religion were he living in 1820. He and his wife imagined themselves transported back in time with the same spiritual longings that many of the world’s inhabitants have possessed throughout time.
Elder’s Holland’s list provides a wonderful review of the glorious truths restored to humanity — the true nature and character of God, a clearer understanding of God’s plan for His children and especially the role of the Savior in that plan, an additional scriptural witness that enhances one’s understanding of the Lord’s life and ministry, and true priesthood authority to dispense every ordinance required for salvation and exaltation.
Elder Holland saved the crowning blessing for last. In his own words, he would have searched
Indeed, the blessings which the temple extends to bind the living and the dead across eternity truly crown the joy which living the restored gospel offers. As Elder Holland declared,
Elder Holland then directs our attention towards the future. The fulfillment of the hope of ancient prophets and saints for their future can give us hope for the fulfillment of blessings in our future.
Conquering the COVID-19 crisis is perhaps the most immediate of those hopes for the world. But once we overcome that challenge — and Elder Holland assures we will — other challenges will remain, such as hunger, poverty, safer schools, and the eradication of prejudice. And of course, truly conquering those physical challenges will require the adoption of spiritual solutions, what Elder Holland called
Elder Holland then gets deeply personal, and here is where he packs his best punch.
Isn’t that what we all hope for? Many LDS singles hope for a more perfect life, yet marriage never made anyone’s life suddenly perfect. You simply exchange one set of challenges for another.
That said, the hope that marriage can improve one’s life is not unrealistic, especially if one (to borrow a phrase from President Oaks) “marries right.” We LDS singles, no matter our individual circumstances, can and should hope for the achievement of righteous blessings, not only even when that fulfillment seems impossible but especially when that fulfillment seems impossible.
Feel the hope
I suppose that’s why this Conference address touched me. I’m in my mid-40s having never been married. What hope do I have not just of finding the right type of person who would want to marry me but also of having a family of my own, not just one I inherit from a now severed relationship?
I think Elder Holland would say I have every reason to hope. And so do you. The God who has performed miracles in the past can and will perform miracles in our present and our future. I echo with Elder Holland the message of a returned sister missionary in Johannesburg: “[We] did not come this far only to come this far.” Great and glorious blessings await each of us as we stand firm in our faith and continually choose hope over despair.
Truly, the Restoration has blessed us all. The hope of past believers fulfilled gives us hope our present desires for righteous blessings will not be in vain. Choose that faith over fear. Choose that hope over despair. When we walk in the perfect brightness of that hope, we’ll progress towards our best life. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
That said, I’m not going to approach exercise in the usual way. Instead, I’ll share how you can improve an exercise habit whether you exercise not at all or everyday. All you need to do is just one more.
Determine your motivation
First, let me start where everyone else starts — a recognition of our highly litigious society. Please consult with a competent physician before starting any exercise program.
That said, before you see a doctor, you need to establish some motivation. Without the proper motivation, you simply won’t follow any program long enough to integrate it permanently into your life. So get crystal clear on why you’re going to do this. Your reason must be compelling enough to push past the resistance to change you’ll surely encounter.
And there’s no one-size-fits-all reason. Perhaps you hate having your weight limit you. It’s harder to bend over and stand up when you’re fat. Or perhaps you need to keep up with some younger folks in your life. That would currently help me as an Aaronic Priesthood advisor.
Or maybe you need to shed those pounds so you can become more agreeable and progress in your dating journey. Argue with it all you want, but no rightness in any argument will diminish the truth that many singles have, do, and will continue to assess potential dating partners by physical appearance.
Yes, I know how it sounds, but it’s no less true. And if you don’t become more agreeable by losing the extra weight, the only way to progress in your dating journey is to find someone who’s satisfied with less. Those people are very few and far between, so relying on that proportion seriously decreases your probability of success.
As I point out in my new book, you increase your probability of success by opening yourself to more possibilities for the successful outcome to occur. The best way to do that is to raise what you offer to a whole new level so that enough people find you agreeable. The more people that find you agreeable, the more possibilities you create for your successful outcome to occur, and thus the more probable your success will be.
Now, before you despair at having to exercise to progress in your dating journey, there’s a simple way to get started. And it’ll improve your performance wherever you are on the fitness spectrum. It’s called the One More Principle.
All you need to do is just one more than you did before. So if you’re just starting out, what you did “before” is zero. All you need to do today is one — one sit-up, one push-up, one whatever. When it’s time to do that exercise again, do just one more, which is two. And so on.
Adopt the lifestyle
It’s amazingly simple, and yet, if you stay with it, you’ll be amazed at how easily you can ease yourself into an exercise habit you previously didn’t have. And here’s the real beauty: If you practice an exercise habit long enough, you’ll actually start wanting to exercise.
Crazy, yes, but it’s true. I’ve personally experienced it. What before made me cower away in terror (What? I have to run how far?) became something that filled me with great anticipation (Oh yeah! I get to run that far!).
And anyone can do one more. If you haven’t exercised in a while (or ever), you can do one push-up. If last time you did ten push-ups, now you can do eleven. If last time you did 100, this time you can do 101. By doing just one more, anyone can progress.
And you can adopt the One More Principle in not just exercise but everything. Last time you wrote 2573 words, so this time you write 2574 words. Last week you went meatless for two meals, so this week you eat three meatless meals. When you do just one more as a lifestyle, you’ll find yourself and your life substantially improved. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
And if 80% of my success comes from diet, then the bulk of my effort should focus on what I eat. That thinking has led me to ponder the Word of Wisdom. I returned to D&C 89, and there I found a word to the wise.
Recognize how you think
Many of us are more familiar with the don’ts of this law of health than with the dos. And I’m sure many of us have also heard how we should emphasize the dos. But are you really living them?
I pointed that question towards myself. And I considered it seriously. I returned to D&C 89 with no agenda other than the desire to live my religion more completely. Instead of reading it passively and saying, “Yeah, I know I should eat my veggies,” or trying to justify the latest fad diet, I read it for what it was. I wanted to let the real meaning there on the surface speak for itself, to let it just say what it says.
And what I found floored me.
I saw that my weight loss efforts have never really succeeded because I never got my diet right. If diet is 80% of success, then you have to get it right to succeed. And getting my diet wrong wasn’t entirely my fault. I was simply responding to deeply entrenched ways of thinking — less effective ways of thinking that weren’t promoting my success. In short, I’d been raised to be unsuccessful.
Discover the truth
If you read D&C 89 looking to answer the question “What diet best promotes health?” and just let it say what it says, you can find the answer to that question very plainly evident.
What should we consume? Herbs? Yes, “in the season thereof” (v. 11). Fruits? Yes, “in the season thereof” (v. 11). Grains? Yes, for they are “the staff of life” (v. 14), principally wheat (v. 17). Meat? Yes, but sparingly.
Think about that word for a moment — sparingly. The diet I grew up on is the traditional American diet in which meat is consumed for three of the three meals every day. We have sausage and bacon and ham for breakfast. For lunch we eat meat in sandwiches, soups, stews, salads, pizza, and of course the ever popular burger. For dinner, all the traditional American fare centers on meat. Honey roasted ham. Fried chicken. Pot roast. Pork chops. Steak. That Thanksgiving turkey. Meatloaf. (Yeah, that name says it all!)
How can this be sparingly? I recognize the relative nature of a word like sparingly, but I don’t think any appropriate definition would get anywhere near 100%. The inescapable conclusion is then clear. The traditional American diet is at odds with the Lord’s law of health. The diet the Master Healer promotes is plant-based.
Align yourself with truth
Now don’t get me wrong. I love my bacon cheeseburger, my meat lover’s pizza, and my sausage biscuits and gravy. I have no intention of becoming vegetarian or vegan.
That said, I can’t ignore the inescapable conclusion from my latest reading of the Word of Wisdom. Sparingly doesn’t mean not at all, just not all the time. So I’m going to keep my bacon cheeseburger, meat lover’s pizza, and sausage biscuits and gravy. I just won’t be eating them all the time.
In their place I’ll be eating more meatless meals. This has led me to experiment as I search for a diet that promotes both health and enjoyable flavors, because no diet is sustainable if it doesn’t use real food that tastes good. And inasmuch as I’m not the only one struggling with diet, I’ll be sharing my successful recipes with all of you so you can have your own success.
We find a word to the wise when we consider what words mean. And we’re wise when we embrace that word and align ourselves with truth. When we do that in any aspect of life, we improve ourselves in every aspect of life. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
They’ll also need an experience to move them in that direction. Think Ebenezer Scrooge here. He was all business and no fun. But it wasn’t just Christmas Day that turned him around, because he constantly turned his heart away from the joy that day could bring with his oft repeated “Humbug!” It was the experiences with the spirit of his former business partner followed by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future that turned him around.
And one of the first things he did after resolving to keep Christmas always in his heart was to laugh.
There’s a lesson there for all of us. Laughter isn’t just an option in life but essential to true enjoyment in life. You need to laugh to live — really live and relish life. You need to laugh because your life really does depend on it.
Built to laugh
That may seem extreme to some, almost as extreme as being all business and no fun. Yet some thought upon the subject will lead to the inescapable conclusion your life really does depend on laughter.
After all, what is your life? If you define life in terms of a mediocre existence, then you might make the case that your life doesn’t depend on laughter.
But is that the life you really want? Do you really want to live on autopilot, just going through the same motions over and over, day after day? Don’t you want a life you can savor and truly relish?
Of course you do. You keep feeling the tug of that dream because you’re biologically hardwired to live it. We are built to be social creatures, and laughter connects us with other people. It’s also a natural stress reliever. Certainly your best life will enable you to manage the stress everyone encounters in life.
Taken in moderation
Of course, anything taken to excess is usually detrimental. Laughter is no exception. Taken too far, we can forget ourselves. I’ve seen social environments get so jovial people say and do things they otherwise wouldn’t.
Moderation is the key. Taken in moderation, laughter can spread joy, hope, and positive energy. It says we don’t have to choose between business and fun; we can have both. We can attend to our responsibilities, make serious progress towards our dreams and goals, and enjoy ourselves along the way.
Part of that result comes from incorporating that enjoyment into what we do. Appropriately placed, laughter can both promote and manifest that enjoyment. But I believe another part lies in setting aside time with the purpose of experiencing laughter in our lives.
Devoted with a day
That’s what’s really great about Belly Laugh Day. It’s a day devoted to laughter. And it’s perfectly placed in the middle of winter when skies overhead in many areas are typically gray and gloomy. That is, in fact, what inspired the creation of the holiday to begin with.
Whether or not you know about it, and regardless of how you choose to celebrate (or not celebrate) it, Belly Laugh Day provides an excursion into laughter. You may be an Ebenezer Scrooge who is all business and no fun, or you maybe you’re stressed under so many demands at present you feel more like crying than laughing. Either way, celebrating Belly Laugh Day can teach and remind us we need to laugh to live. Your life really does depend on it.
How will you incorporate more laughter into your life? Will you read a funny book? Or watch a funny movie? Maybe you’ll join the audience for a stand-up comic. However you take your elixir, a little laughter can lighten your load. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
But automation isn’t all roses. It keeps us inside a “safe” zone where we can roam freely without fear of pain or other potential pesky problems like death. As great as that sounds, growth is never pain- or problem-free. If we don’t step outside our comfort zone, we’ll never approach our potential, let alone achieve it.
Fortunately, you have choice. Yours need not be a mediocre life on autopilot. You can be phenomenal, and it starts when you step outside your comfort zone to embrace the new you.
Pay the price
Admittedly, the prospect of stepping outside one’s comfort zone literally terrifies many of us. The mind quickly presents memories of past pains that linger on into the present. It’s like our brain is saying, “Hey, remember this? You don’t want to go there; you might get hurt again!”
And that’s true. You might. But here’s another piece of truth: Nothing ventured, nothing gained. You can stay inside your little hobble with its practically guaranteed pain-free life. And you’ll live that life first with the repressed yearning of wanting more and then with the regurgitating regrets of never responding to that call.
Again, the good news is you have choice. If you want to have or be something more, you can have or be it. You just need to be willing to pay the price in full and in advance to get it.
That’s how everything is. If you want to see the show, you need a ticket. But you’ll never get the ticket until you pay the price in full and in advance. Only then do you get admitted to the show.
Push through the pain
And that’s where most people get off the train. That’s why most New Year’s resolutions don’t even last a week, let alone the whole year or even the first month. The vast majority of us collide with that eternal truth and decide we’d rather be comfortable. And so we revert back to our old habits and spend the rest of the year wishing we had a better life only to repeat the whole cycle again at the start of the next year.
Seriously, is that the life you want? Do you want to go through the same motions over and over, always wondering why you can’t ever seem to escape that rut of failure? Are you sick and tired of always getting less than what you want? If you want a different life, you can have it. You just need to be willing to pay the price to get it.
For many, that point doesn’t come until they get sick and tired of being sick and tired. Only after that moment do they have resolve to push through the pain of growth, achieve their dreams, and become the embodiment of their potential.
Take the risk
And yeah, it’s scary. You very well could get hurt again. But you’ll never see the new you emerge unless you’re willing to risk.
Take love, for example. Many burned in a romantic relationship retreat back to their hobble where they play the turtle in a shell. These people will never know the love they dream about because they’re acting contrary to the nature of what they want.
You can’t have the amazing love we all dream about having without trust. And trust wouldn’t need to exist unless there was something to lose. Without opening yourself to be vulnerable, there’s no need for trust. And without trust, there’s no way to have the deep love we all want in life.
Everything else worthwhile in life — the elements comprising your best life — operate on the same principle. To achieve success, you must be willing to risk failure and all its attendant heartache, pain, and other assorted problems. You must pay the price to get your ticket to the show.
And what a difference it makes when you do. You can embrace a new you. When you step outside your comfort zone and risk failure, you can experience the growth that will set you on the path to your best life. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Get on the learning train
We’ve discussed before the need to quit life on autopilot and live life intentionally. Refusing to break out of the same old routines will keep your life in that same old routine. To have something you never had, you have to do something you never did.
That’s where learning a new skill can help you live your best life. Doing something new intentionally breaks you out of the same old routine. You’re reaching for a new experience you can use to help make a new life — your best life!
As we’ve already mentioned, to have your best life, you need other people. When you learn something new, you have something you can use to involve those other people in your life and influence them to decide in your favor.
Imagine two people, one who’s content with staying the same and another who’s busy learning a new skill. Who do you want to get to know more about? Certainly not the one content with staying the same. That person will just influence you to stay the same, and that means not living your best life. However, the one busy learning a new skill offers hope that life can be better than what it has been, that the changes you want to have your best life are possible.
Including learning something new in your conversations with other people will not only give you something interesting to talk about but also makes you more interesting to others, enabling you to forge more effective connections with them that will influence them to decide in your favor. Learning something new in a class environment can also be the means for meeting the new people you need to have your best life.
Select your skill
What new skill should you learn? With no limit on what you could choose, the options are endless. But the best skill you can learn is always the one you need to learn right now.
This is where partnering with the Lord comes in. He can help you understand what you should do. We’ve discussed before how the Lord is anxious to assist us as we journey towards our best life.
That said, He may see wisdom in letting you decide for yourself. In that event, just follow your heart. What have you always wanted to do? Perhaps it’s to play a musical instrument. Or maybe you want to speak a foreign language. Maybe you want to have more confidence in conversations. Perhaps you’d like to learn how to cook something new. Or maybe it’s to draw or swim or sew. Select something you want to try and go for it!
Get after it now
Once you’ve made your choice, don’t delay! Start today! Start right now to do something that will move you in that direction of learning your new skill.
Starting now, even if your action is minuscule, sets you up for success. Results come from one thing and one thing only — action. So when you delay taking action, you delay receiving results. The more you do that, the easier it gets to delay more and more.
But when you take action, no matter how small, you set yourself on the path of action. That makes it easier for you to take more action. The more you do that, the easier it gets to take more and more action, until at last you have your results.
So don’t wait. Try something new today. You’ll get out of life on autopilot and embrace the enthusiasm and vigor from living with intention. You’ll be better able to influence for good other people in your life as well as to bring into your life those others who you need for your best life. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Take a lesson from a farmer
Many don’t believe that. They assume life is the collection of circumstances outside their control. But that’s why many people aren’t all that happy.
Your focus determines your reality. Because you can choose what you focus on, you can choose your reality. True, most don’t choose their circumstances, but that never stopped anyone who lived joyfully from living joyfully. These people lived their best life because they made different choices with the same circumstances.
Some of us should take a lesson from a farmer. Farmers don’t choose their circumstances. They have the soil and the water that’s available. Their seeds for planting are whatever they are. The weather will be whatever it will be. So much of what’s needful for the harvest is outside their control. Yet with hard work in what they can control, they produce bountiful harvests year after year.
In like manner, we haven’t chosen many of the circumstances of our lives. What we have is what we have, and it’s often all we have. But if we work hard in what we can control, we can produce harvests of truly joyful living year after year. This is what I call your best life.
Embrace what you control
I can hear many of you now. What exactly can we control? Here’s my answer: Standards, attitude, approach.
It starts with standards. You’ll never design your best life without knowing what’s acceptable and what’s not. The best delineations between what you’ll tolerate and what you won’t are made after partnering with the Lord to get good with you. Once you know and accept who you really are and what your personal ministry should be, you can best draw that line between what you’ll accept in your life and what you won’t. The more clear you make that definition, the more able you’ll be to live the life you intend.
Once you know exactly what you want, you need resolve to do whatever it takes to get it (within the realm of covenant living, of course). You need the attitude of the victor and not the victim. That attitude will fire your imagination to design a life you’ll truly enjoy and pull you through to that fulfilling end when the road there gets tough.
Of course, attitude without action will never bring you achievement. To live a life you design, you must take action. Working smart as well as working hard requires attention to one’s approach. Too often we think what we seek must come in one specific way. But much of life is not path-dependent; there’s often more than one road leading to the top of the mountain. And sometimes the road that’s best for us to travel is not the one we expect.
Get clear and get going
With these three elements in place — standards, attitude, and approach — you can decide what you want your life to be and feel the joy that comes from working to make it happen. Usually that means taking small steps every single day to inch yourself closer to the life you dream.
That’s where many of us fall short. We don’t do the little things everyday that can near us to our best life. Then, after a larger block of time has passed, we can’t help but notice we’re left standing on the pier because our ship has long since sailed.
That’s where being clear about your standards, attitude, and approach holds its best value. Once you’re crystal clear on those elements, what you need to do everyday will be obvious. Performing those seemingly small and insignificant actions everyday will collect to create the very significant life you design for yourself.
So what are you waiting for? Get clear, and then get going. None of this happens overnight. But as you move closer to the life you design for yourself, you’ll feel the joy that comes from making progress. 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 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.
Joy in the Journey Radio offers many free resources to help LDS singles everywhere, but it certainly isn't free! Help Joy in the Journey Radio in its mission to improve the lives of LDS singles by donating today.
Posts by Month