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.
The lesson here is clear. You boost your power to achieve your goals — and therein change your life — when you write them down.
Learn the ritual
This wasn't the first time I came across this story. And yet this time something clicked inside me. I came to a realization that had somehow escaped me before. I say somehow because it's staring me in my face, leaving me at a loss to explain why I didn't see it before.
But I'm glad I saw it now, because it led me to a new daily ritual that's improving the quality of my life and giving me more motivation and momentum to dedicate myself more completely to the accomplishment of my goals.
What is this new daily ritual? Before I begin my tasks for the day or even turn on my computer to review my tasks, I open a notebook and write down each of my goals for the year. Everything here is old school. I take a pen in my hand and physically transcribe onto paper each of the goals I made back in January.
Gain your power
I have goals for my personal life and each of my business endeavors — 36 all told. Since I'm writing each word by hand, it takes me about 20-30 minutes to complete this exercise. That's a sizable chunk out of my day, but I'm starting to see some sizeable return on my investment.
Each moment I spend writing each goal, I'm not just copying words. I'm considering the gap between where I am and where I want to go. Starting my work for the day with a realization of what I need to be done is empowering, especially when paired with the motivation stemming from the grandeur of my goals (yes, I can't help but dream big).
Starting my workday with that motivation drives me to do more with my day. The act of physically forming letters in a set arrangement on paper is a metaphor for completing the tasks in real life that together form the set arrangements known as goals. It's a form of spiritual creation that precedes the physical creation. That's how God created all things (D&C 29:31-32). How can you follow the same pattern and not gain some semblance of the power He wields?
Wield your power
I've embraced this new ritual for only a few days now, so I haven't practiced it long enough to become a habit. But I do feel stirrings of power within me, a taste of the great potential this practice will unleash.
That real power isn't just checking items off a to-do list. It goes beyond completing tasks or even accomplishing goals. The real power is having our tasks transform us into something more than we were before. We're human beings, after all, not human doings. We live our best life not because we do more but because we are more.
It's never too late to start a new way of living. You can feel empowered every day to effect change in yourself, accomplish great goals, and attain your best life. To start feeling that power in your life, decide to start living that way and follow through with the simple yet powerful practice of writing down your goals at the start of each day.
So what are you waiting for? Start right now by collecting the tools you'll need to write out your goals. Then tomorrow morning use your tools to practice your first iteration of a new habit. You may not feel much effect after just one session, and you probably won't. But with diligence and persistence in this practice day after day, it won't be long before you start feeling a growing effect within you. Keep on keeping on with that, and you'll empower yourself to accomplish anything. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
But an OK life never rises above mediocrity and won't ever be great or phenomenal. Most settle for mediocrity, but you don't have to accept an OK life. You can be phenomenal. You can live your best life.
To realize the reality you want to have outside of you, you must do the work to change what's inside of you. So stop waiting and start working. Your best life awaits you.
Most people have a limited life because they have limited thinking based on limiting assumptions. And because of how we're all biologically hardwired to operate, those assumptions lead to habits producing the same results most mediocre lives have.
Do you believe you're the victim of choices others make? Do you believe you just aren't good enough to live your dreams? Do you believe your best days are behind you? Do you believe your happiness depends on what happens outside yourself? If so, you're likely not in control of life. Rather, life is in control of you.
But just as you can choose thinking that limits you, you can choose thinking that empowers you. You really can turn your life around because you are a child of the Creator of the universe endowed with His unlimited potential and the wondrous gift of agency. You can and do choose for yourself.
So you can choose to accept responsibility for the choices you've made that have brought you the life you have now. When you do, you begin to own your life. And that's when everything can begin to change for you. You can further that change by deciding what you want, knowing clearly why you want it, and then committing yourself to excellence in literally everything you do.
Get good with you
You need that foundation to effect the changes you want to see outside yourself. Too many people (who usually live limited mediocre lives) think their lives will improve when their external circumstances do. They work directly on external changes, but that's all backwards. To change your life on the outside, you must first change your life on the inside.
That means you must get good with you. You must dig deep enough inside of you to uncover the true root of your problem, the seeds of mediocre thinking sprouting into the mediocre habits producing your mediocre life. You must learn how you were biologically designed to function so you can leverage it instead of continually fighting against it.
We all broadcast an energy to others, and what you have inside determines the quality of that energy. To broadcast an attractive energy, what's inside of you must be attractive. Stop trying to escape singles life and start embracing it and making the most of it. Love yourself but also commit to doing whatever it takes to better yourself. Achieving that balance is the essence of obtaining your best life.
Keep after it
Pursuing that balance won't be easy, because challenges will always threaten your desired transformation. That's why you must continually refresh your thinking and your determination to keep after it.
Believe your best is yet to come, that the blessings you want are real and yours. Let go of trying to manage every detail and just enjoy the ride. Live in the moment, live with intention, and live in possibility while you work for probability. It's balancing the fantastic with the practical.
And the best way I've found to do that is practicing a ridiculous, sickening work ethic. The grind is amply named, and you need to do it every day. Use your agency to choose to keep after it. Never quit. Never surrender. Never stop until you win.
Most people live mediocre lives centered on satisfaction of self because that's what they choose. Those who live phenomenal lives centered on contribution to others have their best life because that's what they choose. Your best life awaits you. When you choose to take control of your life, get good with you, and keep after it, you too can live the phenomenal life that is your best life. 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.
That one part is completely true. They are torturing themselves. Your focus always determines your reality, so when you focus on what you don’t have, your reality becomes one of lack and emptiness. Because each one of us has agency, we choose our focus. And that means we choose our reality. Indeed, these sisters are torturing themselves. Their wanting serves only to amplify the effect.
Of course, that truth doesn’t excuse married Church members from lacking sensitivity. In recent years, I’ve noticed more married Church members displaying more sensitivity. Nevertheless, not every ward is like that. We still have work to do.
In the meantime, it’s productive for all of us to shift our focus towards what Mother’s Day was intended to celebrate. All of us have a mother who bore us and a mother who raised us. For some those two women are one and the same. But either way, we can each answer this question: “How’s your mother?”
Just as focusing on your lack produces a reality of scarcity, focusing on what you have produces the opposite reality — one filled with abundance and plenty. Your life shifts substantially in the improvement direction when you exchange your expectation for appreciation. It’s all starts with an attitude of gratitude.
So many create disappointment by expecting too much. We want, want, want. And very often what we want, however righteous that desire, centers around something we don’t have. Because our focus always determines our reality, focusing on what we don’t have produces a reality of lack. And the more deeply we want, the more deeply felt that lack becomes.
But exchanging your expectation for appreciation creates something amazing. By constantly expressing gratitude, we can shift our focus towards what we do have. And focusing on what we do have creates a reality of abundance. The more deeply we appreciate, the more deeply felt gratitude becomes. We can bathe in the joy of feeling richly blessed.
Shift your focus
That feeling is completely legitimate because it results from how we’re constructed. Your focus determines your reality. That principle applies to everything, including Mother’s Day. Focus on what you don’t have, and you’ll take no joy in the celebration because your reality will be so full of emptiness you won’t want to celebrate. On the other hand, if you can focus on the good about the day, then you can have a joyful reality you’ll want to celebrate.
I know that can be challenging. As I said before, not every ward displays sensitivity to singles. It’s hard to stay positive when the dream you don’t have but most desire gets highlighted every week at church. I know what it’s like to get constant reminders of what you lack rubbed in your face every week. I know it’s hard.
I also know what hard means. It doesn’t mean impossible. It just means difficult. And difficult can become easy when you partner with the Lord.
The Lord can guide your focus towards the blessings you have today because your mother sacrificed. When you trade your expectation for appreciation, you open yourself to receive more of the joy life has to offer.
And if your relationship with your mother needs work, you can focus on what you can do to improve that relationship. Even good relationships can be improved, so focusing on doing something in that arena is good advice for all of us. Even if your mother has passed on to the other side, you can still find ways to express appreciation and improve your relationship on your end.
So I ask once more, “How’s your mother?” which is really just another way of asking “How’s your focus this Mother’s Day?” Your focus will always determine your reality. So make the positive choice. When you embrace a positive focus, you’ll receive a positive reality. And that will bring you more joy in your 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.
But you can still own your life. You can still take responsibility for yourself and the results you have in your life. And today is the perfect opportunity to do just that because today is April Fool’s Day. Now, I’ll admit social distancing and sequestering have radically changed the landscape. But a change in landscape should never signal us to surrender positive energy. Now more than ever we should be always up for fun.
Change your habits of thinking
Many people don’t associate staying at home with fun. They think about going out to restaurants, stores, malls, parks, concert venues, and the like. Many of us approach April Fool’s Day the same way, conjuring images of practical jokes played on people and often in front of other people.
But that was yesterday. Today the landscape is different. We need to practice social distancing and sequester ourselves in our homes as much as possible. And those who refuse to change their thinking to match this new landscape will experience untold and unnecessary hardship.
Long time listeners to this program are familiar with these principles in relation to helping LDS singles find joy regardless of their circumstances. For example, many singles who leave YSA land without getting married experience a difficult transition into SA world. Some don’t even transition; they go inactive or leave the Church altogether.
That’s because their YSA thinking doesn’t match the new SA landscape, and they simply respond to their biological hardwiring which encourages them to maintain the status quo. They keep thinking the same way, and that just leads them to leave. But if these singes would change their thinking to match their new landscape, they could experience a greater amount of joy despite their circumstances.
Look for opportunity
We can begin to capture much of the joy we’ve been missing by owning our lives and looking for the opportunity amidst the obstacle. I demonstrated that attitude this morning in my Daily Dose video. Is it cheesy and silly? Absolutely. And that’s OK, because I refused to let my current situation keep me from having a spot of fun.
You too can refuse to allow your current situation to keep you from experiencing joy amidst adversity. You can still celebrate April Fools Day. Will it be the same? Of course not. But joy is still joy, no matter how it comes.
Own your life
Presented with this knowledge, each of us now confronts this question: Will you own your life? Or put another way, will you take responsibility for the results you experience in your life? Will you refuse to allow your circumstances to dictate your attitude and perspective?
I choose to own my life. My circumstances will be what they will be, but they will never dictate my choices. I choose to live with intention, not on autopilot. I choose to produce more than I consume, not just consume. I choose phenomenal, not mediocre. I choose life, not death. I choose faith, not fear. I choose hope, not despair. I choose love, not hate. I choose joy, not sorrow.
And so can you. Decide today you will own your life. Decide that no matter your circumstances you will be always up for fun. Then follow through with that decision by taking advantage however you can of the moments for fun that come your way. 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.
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 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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