Approach with intention
When you pray, what do you intend the result to be? Surely we can all think of prayers we offered simply because it was time to pray. We had a habit of praying upon getting out of bed, for instance, and we were simply going through the motions when the time came.
And what resulted? We could cross morning prayers off our to-do list. When you think about it, that was the result intended by just going through the motions. If all you wanted was to go through the motion, then in the end that’s what you got — a completed motion.
That approach with prayer — or anything else in life — will never result in a growing relationship with anyone, let alone the Lord. To have the result of an improved relationship, your approach must invite that result. You must approach with the intention of securing your desired outcome. That doesn’t mean merely wanting your desired outcome as you approach the moment. That means your approach leverages the moment to turn your intention into your desired result.
How would your prayers be different if you approached them with the intention of building a relationship with the Lord? Would you use the same tired phrases over and over? Would you deliver a laundry list of desires? Or would you open your heart, share your hopes and fears, present more of a conversation than a monologue, and spend more time listening for the Lord’s voice after you concluded your prayer?
Schedule your intentions
Scripture study goes the same way. Your time with the scriptures will build a closer relationship with the Lord when you approach it with intention. Don’t just read. Actively look for the Lord in the scriptures. Seek Him out by trying to understand His character, His qualities, His perspective, and His perfection through the written words.
Thus it goes for anything in life. Don’t just collide with the waves in the waters of the moment. Approach the moment before you with intention. Planning the moment in advance can help you do that.
Modern life tends to have so many currents pulling you in so many different directions that, unless you’re intentional about your day, opportunities for improvement will pass you by and you’ll find yourself no closer to your goals and dreams. It’s hard to approach the moment with intention when that moment doesn’t happen. Schedule it so it will.
Make the time
That’s not to say every moment you plan will go as planned. Life is about change and learning how to adapt to change. But if you don’t schedule time for producing the results you want, you’re not likely to take the actions that will give you the results you desire.
Thus, to develop a relationship with the Lord, schedule the time you will spend building that relationship. But if you really want to get serious, schedule not just time for activity but time to become more like Him. What will you need to do to become more holy? Pray with real intent? Schedule that time. Search Him out in the scriptures? Make that time. Devote yourself more in His holy house, a.k.a. the temple? Schedule that time. Spend more time serving others? Schedule that time.
Take time to be holy. As you schedule your moments and then approach those moments with intention, you’ll bit by bit strengthen your relationship with the Lord. You’ll feel more of His love, which will strengthen you as you confront your challenges in life. You can then approach with intention every other area of your life — your career, your social life, your dating, whatever — and start having more of the results you intend. That’s not just going through the motions of life. That’s living your life. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
My release augments my discouragement with the attitude my stake has for singles. The older couple serving in place of our non-existing reps were organizing an occasional activity before their release. Now there’s nothing. How can I believe my leaders really care about singles when I don’t see any action on the singles front?
Now enter my philosophical moment. Reflecting on much of what I share here on Joy in the Journey Radio, I’ve seen the need to take my own medicine. It’s time to own my life, and the first step is acknowledging the truth: I don’t have the results I want because of choices I made. In the end, what you think, what you give, and what you are determine what you get in life.
What you think
We often highlight on this program the connection between how you think and the results you get. As my recent experience shows, it’s one that is all too easy to forget. Having that idea infused into your nature isn’t the factory default setting.
That natural default is to blame the outside — blame people outside of yourself, blame outside circumstances, blame whatever lies outside your control. But by placing responsibility for your life outside yourself, you also place outside yourself the power to change that life. That’s why you’ll never have your best life if you don’t own your life. Until you take responsibility for all the results you have in your life, you’ll never wield the power you need to change your life into your best life.
And you have that power within you, for the Lord has declared it (D&C 58:28). Once you own your life, you’ll not only see that power you have within you more clearly but also wield it more effectively. Thinking in those terms always leads to better results in life, no matter your circumstances.
What you give
Once you start acting on more effective thinking, you’ll see your life begin to change, starting with the way you feel inside. The more you act on more effective thinking, the more effective your actions become at producing the results you want to see in life and the more you find yourself giving.
That shouldn’t surprise any long time members of our audience. We’ve often discussed our definition of happiness — giving your all to all the right things for you. The key part of that definition is that first word: giving. So many chase after having whatever they think will make them happy, and all of them sooner or later face the truth of their unhappiness. Happiness is not about having. It’s about giving.
And true to the Law of Restoration, life always returns to you what you give to it. What you send out always comes back. So if you want to get more out of your life, give more to it. And the definition of happiness we’ve discussed so often here is the key to what you give — your all to all the right things for you.
What you are
When you consistently take more effective actions bolstered by more effective thinking long enough, it becomes a habit. That habit played out long enough becomes your character. You become what you consistently do.
We all have the potential to be great, but whether or not you reach that potential depends entirely on the choices you make. You have the power within you to make those choices. It’s called agency, and you begin to wield that power by owning your life. The first step is acknowledging you don’t have the results you want because of choices you made in what you’ve thought, given, and been.
What you think, what you give, and what you are determine what you get in life. You get to choose all three, and it’s never too late to make a better choice. So don’t wait. Make the better choice now! When you own your life and choose to be more effective in what you think, what you give, and what you are, you’ll be on the road to your best life. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
That relaxed attitude was no match for the “Yeah, but”s that always intervene when we’re stretching ourselves out of our comfort zone. “You should work on that dream” confronts “Yeah, but it’s been a long day and I’m too tired” and you don’t make any progress on your goals and dreams. “You should finish that task” meets “Yeah, but I’ve got bills to pay [or insert other work that appears to take priority]” and you don’t make any progress on your goals and dreams. So if you want to move towards your goals and dreams, don’t be a butthead!
Leave your comfort zone
So long as we stay within our comfort zones, we’ll always have average lives of mediocrity. And that’s the way our brain likes it. How do I know? Quite simply, it’s designed into our biological hardwiring.
Anciently, venturing too far outside your comfort zone could get you killed. Thus, the forces of evolutionary biology adjusted the design of our internal controls. Our biological hardwiring now provides a check point if we go too far beyond the borders of safety. “You don’t really want to go this way” becomes the persuasion of the moment attended by a natural pull back within our comfort zone. It’s all designed to keep us safe.
But staying safe will never result in your best life because staying safe leads only to mediocrity. Now, I’m not saying we need to be a reckless version of Evel Knievel. What I am saying is playing it safe every time never got anyone anywhere. Your best life isn’t found inside your comfort zone. If it were, you’d have your best life because it’d be easy to find and you wouldn’t be dreaming of something better.
Turn knowledge into action
None of this is new to me; I’ve known all of it for years. So why then have I kept slipping? Why hasn’t the knowledge of how my biological hardwiring works translated into forward-propelling action? It’s comforting to know that even with all my slipping the ball’s at the one-yard line, but even still. why isn’t it in the in-zone?
I simply haven’t been vigilant watching for lapses. Our biological hardwiring has us operating mostly out of habit, so it’s easy for eyes to drift away from watching out for potential slips. And those opportunities to slip sneak so silently upon us that not watching vigilantly essentially invites slips towards our goals and dreams to occur.
Those slips often begin with “Yeah, but.” Without vigilant watching, those “Yeah, but”s come and carry the moment. Each surrender to natural inclination is a vote to stay average. Over time, those votes can aggregate to deliver a life of mediocrity. In this way you can get close to scoring but never actually do.
Adopt a new habit
Can you ever get the “Yeah, but”s out of your head? No, they’re a part of your biological hardwiring. But you can develop habits for confronting those “Yeah, but”s successfully.
Begin by deciding your response in advance. Then write out that response: “When I get told ‘Yeah, but’ X in such-and-such situation, I will Y.” Writing out your response burns it more into your brain so that, when your trigger event occurs, you’re more likely to follow through with your pre-determined response. Once you play that out enough times, you’ll have a new habit that propels you forward to your goals and dreams.
So don’t be a butthead. Don’t just let the waves of life carry you wherever the winds happens to blow. Own your life. Take control. Reject any surrender to “Yeah, but” by setting yourself up to adopt the habits you need to succeed. You’ll find yourself slipping a lot less and scoring wins a lot more on the road to your best life. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Many LDS singles find themselves similarly situated. They can feel themselves abused by the vicissitudes of life, be they setbacks in society or disappointments in dating or disillusionment in the death of a loved one or the lingering loneliness of living alone or the ever present responsibility of raising children alone. Many yearn to break free and live independent of their challenges.
If you feel this way, know that you can break free. You’ll have to work through a war of your own just as the Founding Fathers had to work through theirs, but in the end you can stand tall having given birth to a new you you’ve defended and championed. With Independence Day approaching, you can celebrate your independence and let today be the first day of a new you.
Envision your new you
Believe it or not, there’s a new you inside of you waiting to be set free. That new you can help you feel more joyful and alive than ever before. But it won’t ever happen if you don’t believe it’s there.
That’s the first thing tripping up most LDS singles wanting to change their lives. They refuse to believe. They persist in holding faulty assumptions that hold them back. They insist the future can’t be different than their past, or they just aren’t good enough, or all the good ones are gone, or whatever else their brain can use to convince them to maintain the status quo.
In short, they don’t change how they think. They continue whatever habits they presently have that deliver their present reality. Even when they learn how their biological hardwiring is designed to maintain their status quo, they don’t translate that knowledge into action. They don’t change how they think.
That doesn’t have to be you. There is a new you inside of you, but you’ll never birth that new you into your real life until you change your way of thinking.
Defend your new you
When you change how you think, it’s easier to change your actions and with them the results you get in life. But that’s just the first step. Like the Founding Fathers who didn’t get a new nation simply by declaring it, you must fight to defend your new you.
Your first and most formidable enemy will be yourself. Your brain is naturally hardwired to maintain a status quo. And your brain does this by operating out of habit. The current habits are consistent with your current results, so unless you embrace different habits, you’ll never get different results.
Your second and not quite as formidable but still threatening enemy is other people. We’re all biologically hardwired to get our sense of normal from those around us. And we all want to be normal. So when you embrace a new you, you threaten other people’s sense of normal. They intuitively feel the need to change themselves just to be normal, and most don’t want to do the work that involves. They find it easier to bring you down so they can feel normal just as they are.
Champion your new you
Defending your new you is no small task. It’s a constant daily fight. And it’s a fight that you’ll eventually lose unless you champion the new you.
You must celebrate your victories, no matter how small. You must surround yourself with people who are acting in accordance with the changes you want to see in yourself, people who’ll celebrate your victories with you and encourage you to achieve and become even more. You must cheer the self-improvement lifestyle that will maintain your new you.
This Independence Day, celebrate your independence. Let today be the first day of a new you. Envision and believe in that new you. Defend that new you, and champion it. You’ll find resistance along that path, but you’ll also find the satisfaction that comes from progressing towards the fulness of your potential. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
That said, the deal breaker lists many LDS singles have align more with worldly values than eternal ones and are anything but short. For all the talk in church about being spiritual, evidence that LDS singles are influenced by the dating culture of the world abounds in the choices LDS singles make when dating. But when you understand their effect, it’s easy to see we need to scrap dating checklists.
Dating is not shopping
For anything in life, some approaches are simply more effective than others. Part of what makes an approach more effective is the joy it can provide throughout your journey and not just how quickly it can get you to the end. Case in point: The shopping list I mentioned earlier. Here’s a ready example of how we should not approach dating.
Although every relationship has a transactional aspect, romantic relationships are not as fulfilling and ennobling if they’re entirely transactional. In fact, purely transactional relationships always eventually break down. That’s because a tit-for-tat approach never produces the best relationships. They develop as each partner freely gives to the other without expecting anything in return.
Approaching dating with a shopping attitude promotes just the opposite. The relationship you have with the worker at the checkout stand is purely transactional. You’re not looking for anything long-term or complicated. You’re looking for a quick way to exchange the value you have (your money) for the value you want (the items in your cart) and then to walk away.
It’s not hard to see how that approach to dating isn’t all that effective, and yet our language betrays us. Language always reveals thinking, and when we talk about people who are no longer available to date as “off the market,” we’re clearly thinking of dating like shopping.
It’s how you think
That’s not the only way we approach dating like shopping. We talk about potential dating candidates in terms of their “market value,” with top shelf candidates having high market value and others having low market value. We scroll through dating apps and online dating profiles the same way we shop for something online. And we constantly think of dating as the search for someone with qualities we want, very much like the way we think of shopping as the search for something with qualities we want.
That thinking of dating as shopping naturally drives us to make a list. As I said previously, lists aren’t necessarily bad. If it’s short and contains only deal breakers aligned with eternal values, a dating list can be very effective. That said, the lists many LDS singles have are anything but short and often contain few if any items aligned with eternal values. For example, your partner’s height has nothing to do with eternal progression, and yet how many singles insist on dating only those who meet a minimum height requirement?
Proper lists for dating
As I said before, the best relationships come from each partner freely giving to the other without expecting anything in return. That doesn’t mean we’re interchangeable parts. Dating does have a transactional aspect, and using a few essential items to build a foundation for your relationship can satisfy that transactional aspect. That’s where the short list I mentioned earlier can prove effective.
The problem comes when that list isn’t short. We don’t want just anyone, so we add deal breakers to a list to qualify candidates. But every item we add reduces our dating pool and with it our probability of success. In this way, long lists of deal breakers assure singles stay single.
That’s why we need to scrap dating checklists. They represent a less effective approach that decreases the probability of success. In their place, we should embrace a new dating attitude, one less focused on finding perfection and more focused on supporting others to become more perfected. We could even extend that to ourselves focusing more on what we bring to a potential relationship than what we want to have. Making these changes in our thinking will produce more effective actions which in turn will yield more effective results. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
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.
Something’s missing here. It’s this truth: Results come only from action. If you don’t have the results you want, you’re not taking the right action. So instead of rationalizing your way out of doing what you need to do, learn what action you should take, and then take it. Your time is now.
Give your all aright
Life won’t always go as desired. When it doesn’t, don’t just say, “Well, it must not be the Lord’s timing.” Concluding so prematurely will keep you from the real solutions you need.
Too many LDS singles use the concept of the Lord’s timing as a crutch to excuse themselves from further involvement in their own eternal progression. We all want to believe we can get what we want without making any changes in ourselves, that we just need to keep the standards and then the Lord will just deliver our desired companion when the time is right. It’s an enticing yet deceptive argument.
The universe doesn’t work that way. To reap the harvest, you must sow the seed for that harvest. To get a different harvest, you must sow different seed. And you choose what seed to sow. You can make you more attractive to your hoped for eternal companion. Giving your all to the right things always produces the right results.
Seek to do more
Ultimately, happiness is not about doing the right things but rather giving your all to the right things. Without question the standards are some of those right things. So is holding to the iron rod.
And so is eliminating habits that encourage potential companions to decide against you. So is changing the way you think so your approach to life broadcasts an attractive rather than repulsive energy. So is conquering your fears holding you back from achieving your potential. So is partnering with the Lord so you can know what steps you need to take today to turn your life around and capture all the joy He wants you to have right now.
Rushing to conclude the Lord’s timing isn’t right just because you’re still single blinds you from seeing all you can do that’s right for you. You’ll never get right results without right action. No matter how much you’ve done, there’s always more you can do.
Results come from action and only from action. Stop using the Lord’s timing as a crutch to justify inaction. You don’t get results from anything but action. Someone must act for you to get results. That someone is you, and your time is now.
Partner with the Lord
That undoubtedly irritates some of you, especially if you’ve sincerely given your all to secure your companion. And I’m not discounting the Lord’s timetable for each of our lives. He knows not only what’s right but when it’s right.
That’s why you need to partner with Him. When you do, you’ll know what you should do with the time you have now. For most LDS singles, now is the time to take action to move towards eternal blessings. It’s not just about keeping the standards. It’s changing the way you think so you embrace a new way of being that makes you more attractive.
That’s the real secret. Marriage is best pursued indirectly, not directly. When you choose to make the right changes in you, you drastically increase the likelihood someone you want will want you. Partnering with the Lord will help you know what changes are best for you to make today that will attract a brighter tomorrow.
The Lord does have a right time for each of us to receive eternal blessings. But unless you’ve got revelation your time isn’t now, you’re choosing to be single when you use the concept of the Lord’s timing to justify your own inaction. For most LDS singles, your time is now. So get busy giving your all to all the right things for you. When you do, you’ll move yourself closer to the blessings you desire. 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.
That’s why it didn’t take me long to identify “Eyes to See” by Michelle D. Craig as the Conference address to use for the program today. In her remarks, Sister Craig spoke of the need we all have both to see others deeply and to be seen deeply by others. And that’s possible for you when you acquire eyes to see.
Stop doing what you shouldn’t
I’ve long spoken about self-talk. We all give messages to ourselves every day out of habit. For most of us, at least 80% of those messages are negative. A constant barrage of negative messaging can hold anyone back from fully living the joy to be had in life.
The cure for that, of course, is embracing habits of positive self-talk. But you’ll find that next to impossible without first deeply seeing yourself the way God sees you. If you see yourself in any lesser light, it’ll be harder to accept your divine nature and heritage as a child of God. And you’ll feel awkward acting on what you don’t really believe.
That’s why I love how Sister Craig began her remarks with the story of Elisha’s servant seeing a threatening army surround him and his master. But the servant set aside his fears when the Lord opened his eyes to see the truth of his master’s words: “They that be with us are more than they that be with them.” Sister Craig then declared,
If what you’re doing keeps you from living the joy surrounding you every single day, then the obvious first step to experiencing that joy is to remove the obstacle. Get out of your own way. Stop doing what you shouldn’t, and stop thinking in ways that lead you to do what you shouldn’t.
Start doing what you should
Of course, you can’t just stop the bad you think and do. We’re all biologically hardwired to operate out of habit. Our self-talk and most other thoughts and actions we play out of habit. Our habits feed us the instructions we follow to navigate everyday life.
But habits don’t change just because you stop executing bad instructions. Again, you’re biologically hardwired to have a habit, so when you encounter the trigger connected with that habit you stopped, your brain looks for a habit. Not finding one, it kicks in the default response, which is always to go back to the last habit you had.
That’s why you don’t just quit bad habits. You must replace them with better ones. So once you stop doing what you shouldn’t, start doing what you should. And you can begin by partnering with the Lord and allowing Him to show the way.
Sister Craig shared some beautiful stories of how people were blessed and uplifted when others stopped their normal routines, looked around them, and acted on promptings to go and do. She declared,
See the beauty all around you
When you replace less effective habits of thinking and doing with more effective ones, you position yourself to see and to receive the deep joy that really does surround you every single day. That joy comes when you give your all to your true identity and purpose. But you can’t do that if you don’t first see your true identity and purpose.
So start today to develop eyes to see. Stop thinking and doing what prevents you from seeing yourself and others as the children of God we all are. Start thinking and doing what opens your view to the marvelous truths of the restored gospel and the reality of the Savior’s marvelous Atonement.
With a clearer vision of your true reality, you can press forward with joy amidst any challenge. You can feel better about yourself because you’ll see yourself in the splendid potential for glory bequeathed to every child of God. You can feel better about life because you’ll see the beauty that really is all around you. You’ll see more clearly the Lord’s hand working in your life and the lives of others. 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 and podcast 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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