How many of us are doing that? How many of us are taking the action needed to improve our lives? Again, only action produces results. And it doesn’t matter how undesired your reality is today. You can flip any reality into something better when you flip your focus.
More than just seeing
Some may find that a bold claim. If you’re engulfed in your own negative experience, you’ll rightly wonder how simply looking at something different can change anything. But we’re talking here about focusing, not just looking.
Just because you look at something doesn’t mean you’re focused on it. When you drive a car, for example, you’ll look ahead for the most part because that’s the direction you’re going. But occasionally, you look in your mirrors to get a sense of what’s around you. That’s part of safe driving. But how safe would you be looking mostly in your rear view mirror? You’d find driving your vehicle safely difficult if you did that.
That’s the difference between focusing and seeing. Everyone has undesired experiences in life. Simply looking at them won’t create a negative reality. Only when you constantly choose to keep your vision fixed on the negative are you focused on the negative. And a focus on the negative means a reality filled with negativity.
How it actually works
Changing a negative reality is as simple as choosing a positive focus. If a negative reality results from a negative focus, then a positive reality will result from a positive focus. But how exactly does that work?
Many think reality is the collection of what happens to you, but this perspective drives a focus on what others do or don’t do, and the resulting reality is one in which you’re disempowered to change your own life for the better.
What happens to you does play a role in shaping reality, but you play a much larger role with the meaning you assign. You’ll get a certain result depending on your actions. And, yes, other people play a role in determining that result. But whatever the result, you choose what that result means. And that meaning plays a larger role in creating your reality than what others do.
The same undesired experience can come to two different people, and you can find one in complete turmoil and the other in complete peace. The same thing happened to both, so why don’t both have the same reality? It’s because reality is more than just what you experience; it’s also what meaning you choose to give your experience. And the way you assign meaning is through your focus. You choose your focus, and thereby you choose the meaning you assign to your experiences, and thereby you choose your reality.
Stand and own it
When you understand how it all works, the ramifications can overwhelm. If you choose your reality, then the one ultimately responsible if you don’t like your reality is you! That realization usually precedes one of two responses: You’ll either cower back and hide, or you’ll stand up and embrace it.
Cowering can be comfortable, but that choice disempowers you, surrendering you to a victim mentality that keeps you in the prison of always blaming others for why your life isn’t what it should be. But your best life has you empowered with a victor mentality that liberates you. And that’s where the harder choice to stand up and embrace the truth comes in. To have your best life, you must stand and own it.
If you don’t like your current reality, you can flip it when you flip your focus. Stand up, own your life, and start making intentional choices to seize your power of agency and move yourself towards your best life. You’ll feel the empowerment that comes from taking control of your life. You’ll feel the satisfaction that comes from making progress towards your goals. And you’ll learn how to stay positive no matter what negative experiences come your way. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Christ is of course the ultimate source of hope for anything good in this life or the next. No matter your background or situation, there is always hope because there is always Christ. That doesn’t mean you won’t have challenges, but it does mean every problem has some solution in Him. With hope in Christ, you can joyfully rise above any challenge.
Hope has power
I especially like President Ballard’s reliance upon eternal principles of truth. He doesn’t really talk about singles until halfway through his address. He spends the first half laying out the foundational principles that support his remarks on singles. That’s significant.
Equally significant is his repetition of what Elder Gong shared earlier. The majority of LDS adults are single. The public recognition of this demographic change precedes a new thrust by the Church to change LDS culture. Leaders might not describe it that way, but the Church is certainly publicly reaching more after those who by definition don’t have the traditional marker of belonging in LDS culture, namely being married with kids.
And it’s more than just Conference talks. Have you seen the Church website lately? The website has been promoting an upcoming broadcast for singles over 30, the first ever Church-wide broadcast tailored entirely and specifically for this demographic. There’s also an excellent article in the latest Liahona providing practical advice on helping singles feel more included at church.
This is the power of hope in Christ. How long have I discussed in blog posts and this radio program the need to embrace a Christ-centered culture in which the mark of belonging is discipleship? For the past seven years I’ve expressed my faith such a change would come, even amidst the challenges of feeling included in a culture that didn’t always welcome me. And now I rejoice to see the Lord rewarding the faith I and many others have held all this time.
Hope means action
President Ballard extolled singles everywhere to have such faith. Said he, “I speak of hope in Christ not as wishful thinking. Instead, I speak of hope as an expectation that will be realized. Such hope is essential to overcoming adversity, fostering spiritual resilience and strength, and coming to know that we are loved by our Eternal Father and that we are His children, who belong to His family.”
How does one achieve such hope? It comes by faith in Christ who grants that hope to those who wait patiently upon Him. Because faith is a principle of action, so is waiting upon the Lord.
President Ballard said as much. He declared,
I love his declaration of increased hope through needed contribution, a concept we’ve long discussed here — the need for singles to have a personal ministry. When you devote yourself to sharing your unique goodness and light with others, you focus on what you can do. That focus in turn creates a reality of possibility and potential, which naturally leads to hope.
Hope is yours
President Ballard shared other principles that engender hope — the truth no blessing will be denied those who keep covenants, the assurance blessings will be ours though we don’t know all the details, the inclusion of exaltation in God’s plan for all the willing, and faith the Lord will eventually right every wrong experienced in mortality. Each of these principles encourage us to hold to the promise of better days ahead.
And that promise is true. It’s not just wishful thinking. Better days are ahead! Whether those days come tomorrow, two years from tomorrow, or two centuries from tomorrow, better days will come. Faith helps us to see those better days, and hope helps us hold true until those days arrive.
There is always hope because there is always Christ. Let your hope in Christ kindle a fire of faith that promised blessings will be yours. Let your hope in Christ inspire you to share the light of your goodness with others. As you embrace your own personal ministry, you’ll see that light grow ever brighter and brighter. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
The rest and renewal you need won’t come to you on its own. You need to own your life and make what you need happen. That’s why every so often it’s good to separate yourself from your usual world and bask in the beauty of the world God gave you.
Refresh yourself in nature
Of course, the first thing that pops into the head of most people when I say that is nature. And yes, the natural world God created is filled with beauty. I for one am always moved by the majestic sight of real mountains. For me they represent so much strength I feel more confident and secure just being around them.
There’s also something refreshing in separating yourself from the artificial world people created and reconnecting yourself with the natural world God created. For some reason I just find it easier to get grounded when I immerse myself for a time in nature. There’s an extra renewal I gain when I reconnect with what’s most important while surrounded in natural beauty.
That’s why for the past few years I’ve held a tradition called Retreat. Every May I plan a day for being out in nature to meditate and write. The meditation helps me clear away everything not directly connected with the essence of my character, my true identity, and my purpose. Writing serves as an additional filter to clear away the bad. But writing also provides cement to solidify the good in place and fortify me to return to the artificial world renewed and ready to face the challenges that await.
Refresh yourself in the Lord
Of course, you don’t need to go into the woods on a special trip to reconnect with the essential. With enough intent, you can do that anywhere. And you should be getting that every week with the Sabbath.
I’ve often pondered on the words of the Lord to Moses: “...for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed” (Exodus 31:17). That final word refreshed has always caught my attention. The Sabbath should leave me feeling refreshed. I’ve come to learn that if I don’t feel refreshed from my Sabbath day, then I’m probably not keeping it very well.
And I find that’s more of a challenge as life goes on. My calling keeps me busy, and often I find so much needing my attention on Sundays I wonder if the day of rest isn’t a misnomer. But I’ve also found when I devote myself with intention to keep the Sabbath day, I do feel refreshed. I feel renewed and ready to tackle the challenges of another grinding week. There’s something very beautiful in that, and I can bask in that beauty every week.
Open yourself to beauty
There’s other beauty we can bask in regularly. For example, raising children alone challenges many single mothers, but I’ve heard many talk about moments when they realize how blessed they are to have their children. That’s beauty to bask in.
I could go on with other examples, but I think you get the point. We all have challenges in our lives, things we would rather do without. But we all also have great blessings, things we wouldn’t dream of not having. Whatever those blessings are, those tender mercies from the Lord are there to make your life more beautiful.
When you open your eyes to see the wonder all around you, you open yourself to wonderful possibilities of joy along your road in life. And you open the door to many more blessings God wants to give you if you will but open yourself to Him. So bask in the beauty you have all around you. Own your life and fill yourself with the refreshment and renewal you need. You’ll refresh yourself in the blessings you have around you. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Then I thought I might have the wrong focus. Maybe what I need to focus on, I thought, is focus. After all, Mother’s Day is hard for many single sisters because of where they place their focus. Your focus determines your reality, so when you focus on what’s missing, your reality feels like it’s missing something. When you focus on what’s wrong, your reality can’t help but feel wrong.
But when you focus on what’s right, your reality feels right. And that focus works not just for Mother’s Day but for every day. So instead of letting a holiday focus you on what’s wrong or missing, use that holiday to focus on what’s right. When you focus on the best parts of your life, it’s easier to celebrate the best in you.
Admittedly that’s a hard row to hoe when you’ve got an ideal you’re not even close to reaching pressed in your face at church. Many wards are stepping up and exercising more sensitivity to their single members, but many wards still have a lot of work to do. And that begs the question: What can LDS singles do when they find themselves in such a ward?
The worst that can happen is you have a horrible experience at church and then you go home and brood about it. If church wasn’t what it should have been, why would you torture yourself further by brooding about it? Your focus determines your reality, so wallowing in the muck of negative experience just brings you the muck of a negative reality.
Choose instead to focus on what’s right. If church wasn’t what it should’ve been, remember babes in sacrament meeting, go home, and move on. Have your own celebration that highlights what’s best in you. Refuse to focus on the negative, and your reality will refuse to be negative.
That may be hard, especially if you have a habit of immersing yourself in negativity. But like all new habits, actions become easier and more entrenched the more you practice them. Holidays that traditionally present challenge to singles also provide opportunities to rise above those challenges.
The key is to remember that practice does not make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect. You can practice how to approach something the wrong way, and you can practice it so much it becomes a habit. But in the end, all your habit will deliver you are less effective results. Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.
So if your habits produce less effective results, here’s some free advice: Change them! You have the power of agency. Use that power to play the victor, not the victim. Change what you need on the inside so you can more readily see the changes you want to see on the outside.
Whatever holiday comes to your door, others don’t have the final say in how you feel. You have the final say with the focus you choose for yourself. Control your focus, and you control your reality.
It’ll be hard if you haven’t practiced perfect, but that’s OK. That just means you need to keep trying. Keep reaching for the light and the positive choice. No matter what others decide, determine you will decide your focus. Determine you’ll celebrate the best in you.
Your focus will determine your reality regardless of what you choose. The universe obeys its laws irrespective of any of us. Time is continually moving forward. You can choose to use that time to embrace the negative or the positive.
The choice is yours, so make the positive choice. Choose to celebrate the best in you each and every day. By insisting on making your focus more and more positive, you’ll make your reality more and more positive. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Watch your focus
And yes, I said singles should ask that question of themselves. Your focus determines your reality, so if you don’t like your reality, take a look at your focus. Making that change on the inside can make all the difference in your world on the outside.
And because we’re all designed to operate out of habit, whatever focus we do have we’ll continue to use over and over again. That’s great if your focus creates a reality you want and not so great if your focus creates a reality you don’t want.
But it all starts within, so to change your reality on the outside, change your focus on the inside. If your focus in dating is all about you and what someone else is going to bring you, then you’ll likely attract only those with a similar focus. And the only reason they’ll want you is more because of what they think they can get from you and not so much with who you really are.
Dating isn’t shopping
It’s little wonder we think this way. Modern dating has an increasingly online component, so much so that we bring to dating the same thinking — the assumptions, perspectives, attitudes, and habits — that comprise our online life in other aspects. And pretty much everyone spends a substantial proportion of that life online shopping.
The Internet makes getting pretty much whatever you want so very easy. You look around at options from different offerings, compare prices, read and weigh reviews, and make a purchase. A couple or so days later, your order arrives right at your door. There’s no need to go anywhere. And if what you get isn’t really what you want, you get rid of it.
We do the same thing with dating. We swipe past photos of potential candidates who aren’t cream of the crop, filter profile details, and maybe read what others write. We’d never reach out to a company offering an inferior product; we simply wouldn’t buy. So why would we even think about talking to a dating candidate offering what appears to be an inferior candidacy? The “right” one will arrive on our door in a timely manner and just lift us into bliss, because isn’t that what happens when your relationship is really right?
Find real happiness
Are you catching the focus in this common approach? It treats people like things, which of course trips us up because people are not things. But it’s also all about what you get. And that’s completely backwards because happiness in marriage is more about what you give than what you get.
Long time audience members will know I define happiness as giving your all to all the right things for you. Notice there’s no getting in that definition. It’s all about what you give, and it’s giving all of you to all that’s right for you. Certainly your spouse counts as one of those right things.
Now I’m not suggesting we’re all interchangeable parts who can just marry anyone and be blissfully happy based entirely on what we give. The relationship we’re talking about here is a two-way street; it can’t be all give and no get, for either partner. But too often we focus so much on the getting that we ignore the more major contribution of the giving.
So instead of asking, “What will this person bring?” when evaluating a dating prospect, ask yourself, “What will you bring?” When you focus on getting good with you on the inside and making the changes to make you the best you you can be, in that process you’ll cross paths with someone who’ll want to share the life you’re creating, a life in which you each give to each other the best you each have to give. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
That story greatly resembles dating for many LDS singles. Try as they might nothing they do seems to work. And days like Singles Awareness Day (otherwise known as Valentine’s Day) only highlight the struggles many LDS singles experience daily. In such circumstances, it’s easy to surrender to despair and embrace the pity party. But if you pity anything, you should never pity yourself. Pity the pity party instead.
Recognize your choice
I can talk because I’ve been there. After being single for more than 25 years, I’ve walked the lonely road. I know the heartache when everything you do seems to end in pain. If anyone should have justification to throw a pity party, it should be me.
And yet I’m not throwing one. To the contrary, I’m very optimistic about the future and my future in particular. How can I be so positive amidst so much reason for despair? After all, I’m still single. Nothing has ever worked out for me. True, I’ve had wonderful moments with girlfriends over the years, but it’s all come to nothing but pain every single time. At my age, how can I expect my life will ever be different?
Quite simply, I believe my future is more the product of my choices than my past. I believe fundamental truths which the restored gospel of Jesus Christ teaches me. And my beliefs run more than just skin deep. They permeate the very fabric of my character to define who I am and what I intend to become.
Choose your focus
For example, I believe the Book of Mormon prophet Lehi when he said everything has its opposite (2 Nephi 2:11). Everything includes the obstacles in our dating lives. What’s the opposite of an obstacle if not an opportunity? Thus, with every obstacle comes an opportunity.
Then consider your focus determines your reality. Focusing on your obstacles creates an obstructed reality. You’ll feel unfairly held back and oppressed by circumstances outside your control. But focusing on the opportunity that must exist with every obstacle turns your reality around. You’ll feel liberated and empowered to pursue whatever passion fascinates your imagination.
Either way you’re not one jot more or less single than you were before. But how you feel inside about yourself, your life, and your future is as different as the bright day is from the dark night. I’ve experienced that difference in my own life. And I’ve seen countless others experience it in their lives as well.
Embrace your reality
Those who surrender to the pity party simply fail to see the opportunities and reasons for optimism and hope truly surrounding them. We should therefore pity them for their lack of understanding and perspective and not their circumstances. We all came to mortality to have hard experiences. Indeed, we wanted the challenge because we knew that was the only way we could grow in eternity.
If Singles Awareness Day has you feeling as burned and failing as my experimental churro crisps were, you don’t have to be that way forever, or even for one more single day. Every day, you choose your focus by what you choose to feed yourself. And your chosen focus then brings you your reality.
Don’t throw the pity party. Instead, pity the pity party. Take the truths of the restored gospel deep into your soul. Let the miracle the Savior can and wants to perform inside of you happen. You can embrace pure joy and happiness without being one iota less single.
Of course hard times will come, as they always will. That’s part of the plan. But when you seek out the opportunities instead of the obstacles, the Lord will open your eyes to what truly surrounds you every day. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
When life seems to go bat nut crazy, you can easily get caught up in the craziness, because it’s easy to accept the reality we’re presented. With that acceptance comes stress. You wonder how the future could ever possibly be bright.
But the truth remains: Your focus determines your reality. When you focus on crazy, you get crazy. But when you include more of what’s around you in your focus, the craziness occupies a lower proportion of the whole, thereby diminishing your stress from the craziness. And the best way to get that expanded focus is to step outside yourself.
Feel the wonder of nature
I’m reminded of an old Native American question: “Who can own the land?” In their world view, people don’t own land. Rather, the Creator provides the land for all.
That perspective draws me out of myself to see the world as a place God created so His purposes for me and all my spirit brothers and sisters could be fulfilled. That view helps me to experience more fully the wonder of the world around me. And having lived across the United States, I’ve seen many marvelous wonders of natural landscape.
I can’t help but be biased towards mountains. Mountains breathe strength and determination into me. They seem like a natural representation for closeness to God. That said, I’ve felt a certain calm watching the tide roll in the shore of a lake or the edge of the ocean. I’ve marveled at the way sunlight bends around the curves of rolling prairies. Even the desert has a beauty all its own.
Only when I step outside myself do I experience the full wonder the natural world offers. Only when I step outside myself do I feel full gratitude to God for creating such a beautiful world for me to live in.
See more as God sees
That perspective of God’s creation invites me to see more as He sees. When I see the world as His creation to fulfill His eternal purposes for me, I naturally recall God did likewise for all His children. God has a plan, and He is in control.
And that plan hasn’t changed. It’s the same plan He’s had all along, the one presented in the council in heaven, the one Satan rejected, the one our Savior supported, the one calling for all of us to experience mortality in this world and with it the opportunity to grow in the eternities into something more than we could ever become otherwise.
Likewise, God retains the same control today He’s always had. He was in control when the same plan He’s always had was presented in heaven. He was in control when He created this world and the rest of the universe. He’s been in control throughout human history. And He retains that same control today.
Live by faith with intention
None of this is to say the challenges the craziness around us presents aren’t real. I’m not advocating we fix rose-colored glasses on our faces. God’s continual control doesn’t mean life won’t ever get difficult. But His control does mean He’ll guide us through troubled times and strengthen us to persevere through difficult days. And we best hear His voice and receive His strength on the covenant path.
So the question then is this: What path will you choose? Will it be the covenant path? Or will you take a different path? The path to happiness is found in living by faith with intention to give your all to all the right things for you. Those right things include making and keeping sacred covenants with God. They also include embracing a personal ministry to share your light with the world around you.
When you step outside yourself, you can more clearly see beyond the challenges current circumstances present. You can feel the wonders in the world around you. You can see your current place in your life more as God sees it. You can live by faith He’ll guide you away from dangers. You can feel His strength as you pursue a life of contribution with intention. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
But in reflecting upon my situation, I’ve come to realize my faulty assumption. I’ve been assuming I can find peace only outside myself. I want to get away from the fighting that fills our communities. I want to escape the turbulence of these troubled times. I want to resolve the circumstances outside myself that I’ve erroneously connected with how I feel inside myself.
But peace doesn’t come from outside ourselves. Peace comes from within. As a popular song teaches, let there be peace, and let it begin with me. When we take proper action, we can have peace within even though the world around us has anything but.
Your focus determines your reality. So when you change your focus, you change your realty. When you change the way you think, you change your life.
All of us can create a reality of peace in our lives when we focus on what brings peace. And the ultimate source of peace is the Prince of Peace. He suffered our pains and troubles so that He would know how to be compassionate in our hour of need. He died so that we could live.
That life Christ gives isn’t just eternal life in the realm beyond the veil. He gives life here and now in mortality. He can lighten our load and light the way before us. He can lift us when we are low. He can give hope amidst despair. But in order to make His lift, His light, and His love our reality, we must focus upon Him.
The Christmas spirit of peace lives in us when we increase our discipleship to the Prince of Peace. It’s when we ignore His teachings or turn our focus away from the weightier matters of covenant living that we bring ourselves the opposite of peace. Aligning our will with His brings a harmony with truth that makes our hearts a natural home for peace.
And only when we have peace within ourselves can we effectively promote peace outside ourselves. Only a continued walk after the Prince of Peace can inspire others to follow His enlightened example and find peace within themselves.
But deep, lasting peace never comes from just going through the motions. Just as true happiness comes from giving yourself to all the right things for you, deep, lasting peace comes only when you align yourself with all the right things for you.
Of course you should strive to keep the commandments and your covenants. Those things are right for everyone. But beyond the standards reside what’s right for each of us individually — goodness related to your personal ministry and the contribution only you can make in the lives of others.
When you give yourself to those right things that only you can do, you promote peace. You become a city shining on a hill giving goodness, light, and love to an increasingly darkened world desperately in need. And that peace you bring to others can bring greater peace to you as well.
You can’t really share with others what you yourself don’t have. It all starts where the song says it starts. Let there be peace. And let it begin with me.
Peace comes from within, so let each of us align ourselves with God. Let each of us be true to our covenants. Let each of us give what only we can give. Let each of us focus on Christ and feel the peace that comes from following after the Prince of Peace.
Then let us all go forward and share that peace with others. Let us light their lives. Let us give them hope. Let us lighten their load. Let there be peace. And let it begin with me and you. We will find a peace we have never before known when we cultivate peace within our own hearts like we have never before done. And doing that will bring us more joy in our journey.
That perspective transforms everything about the Lord’s work into gathering Israel. It makes sense when you consider President Nelson’s observation that “one of the Hebraic meanings of the word Israel is ‘let God prevail.’ Thus the very name of Israel refers to a person who is willing to let God prevail in his or her life.” And indeed, LDS singles are abundantly blessed when they submit their will to God’s and let God prevail in their life.
The key portion
I love the story President Nelson shares about Jill. Struggling with her father’s approaching death and her own questions regarding testimony, Jill was at first startled to hear President Nelson describe her perspective as “myopic.” But further reflection on that word led her to embracing God’s will, adopting a more eternal perspective, and finding peace. These blessings came to her as she let God prevail in her life.
Of course, the key portion of President Nelson’s message applies to all, though I think it has particular application for LDS singles. After rightfully decrying the prejudice of racism, President Nelson declared,
With all the voices in our crazy modern world, are you willing to open your ears to God’s voice more than any other? Are you willing to put His work ahead of your own desires, even righteous desires like securing an eternal companion? Will you walk away from someone you love who wants to marry you if God says no? Will you submit your will to His even when it seems completely crazy and makes absolutely no sense to do so? Will you let God prevail in your life?
Guidance for dating
President Nelson then begins applying those key questions to different situations. And the first situation he tackles? Being single. He said, “If you are unmarried and seeking an eternal companion, your desire to be ‘of Israel’ will help you decide whom to date and how.”
When I first encountered those words, I wondered why President Nelson did not expound upon them. How exactly does my desire to be “of Israel” help me decide whom to date when choosing between two active Church members? And then there’s the bigger question: How does my desire to be “of Israel” help me decide how to proceed with dating?
In reflecting upon these questions, I realized President Nelson didn’t expound more upon them because he doesn’t need to. Do you remember when in 2018 he said this?
In that same address about revelation, President Nelson taught,
When you submit your will to God’s, you position yourself to understand better how you should navigate the seas of your singleness. That’s why, coming back to the present address, we find President Nelson teaching this:
Focus becomes reality
Most of the time, it really is a matter of perspective. Our focus does indeed become our reality. When we let God prevail in our lives, we focus upon His objectives. And because His work and glory is our salvation and exaltation (Moses 1:39), that focus brings us the most joyful reality.
Doing the work to let God prevail isn’t easy, of course. Surrendering one’s will to God never has been and never will be easy. President Nelson acknowledges this truth:
There’s so much more I want to get into here, but limitations force me to defer that discussion to later in the broadcast. Here’s the bottom line: When you let God prevail in your life, you’ll understand more clearly what really matters in God’s plan. You’ll see more clearly the path leading to your greatest happiness now and in eternity. And you’ll feel more of God’s love strengthening you to walk that path.
So let God prevail in your life. You’ll see the miracle your life can become when you do. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Yet far too many of us LDS singles choose bondage. We choose to keep habits of thinking that hold us back. We choose habits of seeing the obstacles instead of the opportunities. We choose habits of living under the oppression of a victim mentality instead of the liberation of a victor mentality. We are in many ways our own worst obstacle. If only we could get out of our own way!
And that’s the irony of it all. We can get out of our own way. We can break free from the bondage of a lesser life because we are free to choose for ourselves. We simply need to make the right choices.
Don’t discount your gift
I know some of you are scoffing at that idea right now. You’re thinking your freedom isn’t like a light switch you just turn on and off at will. Real life, you’re thinking, isn’t like that. There’s so much affecting your life you don’t control.
I used to think that way, back when I didn’t enjoy my life. What I couldn’t see then that I clearly see now is how my choices in how to think brought me the reality I was living. The way of thinking I embraced in those days discounted my gift of agency.
I didn’t see how my habitual choice to focus on the negative created the negative energy I broadcast to others around me. I didn’t see how my habitual choice to look constantly at my obstacles prevented me from seeing my opportunities. I didn’t see how my habitual choice to embrace a victim mentality kept me from living a life of victory.
The truth is your focus determines your reality. When you focus on the negative, you have a negative reality. When you focus on the positive, you have a positive reality. Because you choose your focus, you also choose your reality.
Choose your habits
And here’s more truth: Most of your choices you don’t make consciously. Rather you choose out of habit.
About 97% of everything you do on a day-to-day basis is simply a habit playing itself out. Habits don’t require you to think about what you do when you do it. You can, but you don’t have to. That’s the beauty of habits. They automate sequences of action so you can actually live life.
But your best life is a life lived by intention, one you consciously choose. Because you choose habitually 97% of the time, you choose consciously only 3% of the time. That suggests you can’t live your best life, but you can because you choose your habits.
When you understand how habit works and then make conscious choices to embrace more effective habits — especially in how you think — you really can choose your life because you choose the elements that together create the life you have.
Own your life
The moment I realized that truth was a pivotal turning point in my life when everything changed for me. I had a life I didn’t want because I chose the elements that combined according to natural law to create the reality I had. And it all came back to how I chose to think.
Sure, those choices were by and large habitual. But I chose my habits. In the very least, by choosing not to improve an existing habit, I by default chose not to embrace a better one.
That moment when I consciously chose to own my life turned everything around for me. That’s because I started making choices that were more conducive to the reality I wanted. And that’s a choice you can make as well because you have the same gift of agency.
Don’t depreciate that gift. Choose to own your life. Choose to break yourself free of the habits of thinking producing a reality you don’t want. You don’t have to live that way. You don’t have to settle. When you learn how to leverage your gift of agency to your advantage, you can live a phenomenal life, irrespective of the choices others make. You can make your life extraordinary. 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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