I’m not sure what it was exactly. It’s not like the situation this sister describes is abnormal, extraordinary, or unusual. Confronting loneliness is part of the reality of singleness. I just felt I should address the question posed in this post.
Don’t ask me to compare the loneliness of the never-married versus the divorced versus the widowed. I don’t even know where to begin there, nor am I entirely certain that comparison would provide any real value.
What I do know is that I’ve had my own confrontation with loneliness and overcome it. I know the depths of despair that can enter the heart from prolonged singleness. I’ve been single for over two decades. I also know the pure joy and hope that fill the heart and soul when you change the way you think and adopt a personal ministry. And I know this is true because I’ve lived that joy and am living it now.
Change your thinking
Most of the comments offered in response to this single mother’s question revolved around two approaches: hobbies and renewal activities. They represent two ways of what I see as fundamentally the same approach. And that approach doesn’t address the real issue at hand.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against hobbies. And I’m certainly not against participating in regular activities that renew the spirit, heart, mind, and body. In fact, having regular renewal rituals is a great way to live life. We all need to recharge from time to time.
Yet neither of these methods proposed to combat the loneliness we LDS singles encounter solve the problem. They’re simply bandages covering the problem with a seemingly healthy and often pleasurable distraction. Avoiding problems will never solve them. Real solutions always require us to act.
That action starts when we change the way we think. We need to discard the notion that we have to be married or have some significant other in our lives in order to be happy. We need to stop conditioning our happiness on the choices of others. And we need to throw off any vestige of any victim mentality we have and replace it with a victor mentality. We need to own our lives, taking full responsibility for whatever results we do have and recognizing the power of our own choices in delivering to us the life we want.
Adopt your ministry
Attitude without action will never bring you achievement. Some people get fired up with positive thinking, but then their lives don’t change because they didn’t really change, especially in the way they think. Changed thinking always leads to changed action, which in turn always leads to a changed reality.
One of the best actions more effective ways of thinking always lead one to take is to adopt a personal ministry. Your personal ministry is that unique contribution of goodness you make to the world, the cause through which you uplift and bless the lives of others. We’ve discussed before on the program how adopting a personal ministry can help LDS singles overcome their challenges. Here are just three of those reasons:
Turn yourself outward
When you think about it, it’s not hard to understand why a personal ministry offers so much benefit for LDS singles seeking to overcome loneliness and other challenges we LDS singles face. It aligns us with the path the Savior trod by turning ourselves outward towards others.
That’s in stark contrast to the bandage solutions mentioned earlier. Again, I’m not against hobbies and renewal rituals. But focusing exclusively here will turn ourselves inward towards ourselves. That’s why they will never really solve the problem of loneliness. Only by turning ourselves outward can we connect with others in ways that remind us we aren’t ever really alone. Only by turning ourselves outward can we connect with the Savior Who fills us with His love that helps us to know we aren’t ever really alone.
If you feel consumed by loneliness, consider your focus. Your focus will always determines your reality. Change your thinking, adopt a personal ministry, and turn yourself outward. You’ll shift your focus towards others and shift your reality away from your problems and into your possibilities. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
That said, many of us are still taxing ourselves. We are by nature social creatures, so it’s natural to respond to a crisis by nearing ourselves to others. Yet the current crisis keeps many of us physically apart. And without some plan to provide for needs, that separation is taxing many beyond their capacity.
Focus on ability
We’ve discussed before the basic areas of life, what I call the spirit, the heart, the mind, and the body. Regardless of the names you employ, these areas each have their own needs, which will tax anyone’s reserves when left unmet. And the faith that optimistically inspires us to see beyond the current crisis can guide us to solutions amidst the current crisis.
We achieve that result in large measure by answering this question: “What can I do?” Too many of us, yearning for a return to normal, seek after what we’d like to do had the pandemic not turned the world upside down. But that thinking won’t help us thrive in our new world. We must adapt or die. To thrive in a new reality, we must change our thinking to match the landscape.
For example, before the pandemic hit, I was investigating exercise options. Then the pandemic eliminated the gym as an option. But instead of wallowing in my inability, which would just lead me to inaction and its attendant reality lacking results, I focused on answering “What can I do?” That question led me to using my own body weight for strength training and walking in my neighborhood for cardio. That combined with changes in diet have led to my first real weight loss success in a long time.
Get your plan
In like manner, we can ask “What can I do?” to address any need in life. By focusing our attention on what we can do, we empower ourselves not only to conquer the challenges before us but to do so with a smile-laden gusto. We really can have joy in life regardless of our circumstances.
That power to transcend our troubles resides in agency, God’s gift made meaningful by Jesus Christ. His Atonement makes it possible to triumph over sin and death, obstacles that separate us from God. Without that Atonement, our overcoming any obstacle in this world would have no meaning. We would all unavoidably perish (Alma 34:9).
Of course, such a key component in our eternity did not come about by chance. It was part of a plan provided before this world was. What we see now created temporally God first created spiritually (Moses 3:5). Following that example as we answer the question “What can I do?” will lead us to the plans we need to meet our needs during the coming months.
Rise above the challenge
With so much unknown at present about coronavirus, we can expect the current situation of sequestering and social distancing to last at least through summer. Do you have the plans and the means in place to meet your own needs during that time?
When you fail to plan, you plan to fail. But you don’t have to fail. You have a choice. You have power within that choice to change your attitude and how you think. And when you change how you think, you change your life. You can feel real joy regardless of what negative or pessimistic circumstances surround you.
Don’t tax yourself by failing to plan appropriately for your changed landscape. Ask yourself, “What can I do?” and then partner with the Lord as you answer that question. Those answers can structure a plan for meeting your needs for as long as the crisis lasts. The storm of pandemic may rage on the outside, but you can live with faith, optimism, and confidence on the inside. 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.
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.
It’s natural to think life would be better if only we had something we don’t now have. We think, I'll be happy when ______ . You can fill in the blank.
And many do. Some think they’ll be happy when they get a new job or a new house. Some marrieds fill that blank with a new baby. Many singles fill that blank with getting married.
These thoughts are natural, and that’s why they ultimately don’t lead to happiness. Happiness never comes from following the inclinations of the natural man or woman. Those inclinations turn your focus inward on yourself.
But true happiness requires you to turn your focus outward on others and contributing to make their lives better. The more of yourself you give in that endeavor, the happier you become. And because you can always contribute to others in some way, you don’t have to wait for happiness.
Avoid the “happiness” trap
Often we place too many conditions on our happiness. By thinking we can’t be happy unless we possess something — be it some material object, social status, or notable achievement — we equate happiness with possessing that something.
And that’s the first part of the trap. As long as you don’t possess whatever that something is, you’ll be unhappy. And because true happiness comes from what you give rather than possess, fulfillment will always elude you.
The second part of the trap comes by thinking you must possess your something because your life plan says it’s “right.” After all, how can you be happy when your life isn’t what you want it to be?
Many singles get caught in this second part of the trap. Thinking you need to have that special someone to be happy is self-defeating. If you’re not happy now, you’re not likely to attract that special someone. People generally don’t want to spend ten minutes let alone their entire life with negative emotions like unhappiness.
Not getting what you think you need to be happy then just feeds the cycle to continue. And releasing your wanting will be hard so long as your life plan tells you it’s “right” to keep wanting it, further reinforcing the cycle.
Find your freedom
But you don’t have to be trapped. You can free yourself by changing your thinking. Quit waiting for some condition to be met. Start understanding the true source of happiness, and start making more effective choices.
Happiness comes from giving your all to the right things. Long-time audience members know the right things are more than just keeping the standards. Of course those standards are right for everyone. But the right things also include your unique contribution to improve the lives of others.
And you can’t just do your right things and expect to be happy. It's what you bring to what you do while doing the right things that produces happiness. It’s how much of yourself you give willingly to doing your right things.
If just doing the right thing would make you happy, everyone at church would be just peachy. After all, church attendance is a right thing. But you can’t just go through the motions to become happy. You must give your all to the right things. That’s why those who contribute while attending church are always happy. They’re giving their all to their right things.
Likewise, simply acting out your part during the marriage ceremony won’t make you happy, however "right" that marriage may be. What will make you happy is bringing your all to that union. Happiness comes from giving your all to the things that are right for you.
Be happy now
Here’s the best part about this definition of happiness. You don’t need to wait to be happy. In His tender mercies, the Lord has placed within your reach the things that are right for you now. You can choose to change your thinking so that you can see your right things all around you. And you can choose to give your all in embracing those right things.
When it comes to being happy, you don’t need to wait. You don’t need a change in your situation. You need a change in your thinking and then you just need to choose to be happy.
Don’t sacrifice the joy of today by focusing on a future that always seems elusive. Focus instead on the contribution you can make today. You can be happy now if you align your thinking and your actions with the true source of happiness. When you give your all to contribute to others in the way that’s right for you, you’ll feel that happiness come into your own life. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
We all know the LDS single who’s so eager to be married that he or she instantly gravitates towards anyone who appears to promise a blessed end to single status. Maybe you’ve even been that single yourself.
I was once all about finding that eternal companion but never actually finding her. I felt like that hamster down at the pet store, always just spinning my wheels and never getting anywhere. And I felt miserable.
I thought I was doing the right thing. After all, our leaders have talked endlessly about the importance of marriage and family. Our LDS culture is centered around family. It made sense to go after it directly.
But that’s exactly the problem. It doesn’t come when you pursue it directly. It comes when you let it come to you.
Understand how it works
We’re all hard wired to operate out of habit. And what we do determines what we get. So if we entertain less effective habits, we’ll keep getting less effective results. And it won’t end until we replace the less effective habit with a more effective one.
Many LDS singles have the less effective habit of making a beeline for anyone appearing to promise hope for marriage. But when you understand how everything works, you’ll realize you need to ditch the beeline.
Here’s how it works. Marriage means the agency of another person is involved. You can’t choose for others. Someone else has to choose you. That means the most you can do is influence that choice.
That’s why you keep hearing platitudes like “Just be yourself” or “Keep working on yourself.” They’re all true up to a point. Doing these things will influence the right person to choose you.
But beyond that point lies the reality where we all live. This most important choice has many influences in addition to the one you exert. And these other considerations outside your control can drown any hope of acquiring desired blessings. Your challenge, then, is to exert your best influence, trusting the Lord to cross your path with someone who will choose you. Are you up to it?
Rise to the challenge
You can best rise to the challenge by letting go of pursuing marriage directly and adopting a personal ministry. This really is your best approach for exerting your best influence.
Here’s why. When you pursue marriage directly, you broadcast to everyone around you you’re all about marriage. No one really wants to marry someone who’s more interested in some personal agenda. So you come off appearing desperate.
When you drop the beeline and adopt a personal ministry, you’re about something bigger than yourself. You let your best self shine while serving others. Devoting yourself to your own personal ministry shakes off the scales of desperation so that others see you as someone interesting, someone worth getting to know better, maybe even share a life with.
Guess what? Now you’re influencing others to decide in your favor.
Other powerful influences exist, yes, but that’s where walking by faith comes in. When you partner with the Lord, He’ll lead you to those with whom your best influence will be more than good enough. That’s because they’ll hearken to the voice of the Spirit when He says, “Give this one a chance.”
Embrace your best self
Many LDS singles live in fear that their desired blessings won’t come. But that’s no way to live. It’s much more joyful to let go of directly pursuing marriage and instead pursue what will influence others to choose in your favor.
Devoting yourself to your own personal ministry can make the waiting more joyful, however long that waiting lasts. Do you want just to endure to the end? Or do you want to thrive?
Of course, you should keep looking for and pursuing opportunities that arise. But your universe won’t be rotating around them. So let go of directly pursuing marriage. Let it come to you. When you devote yourself to your personal ministry, you can embrace your best self. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
While deciding the topic schedule for this year, I consulted the Internet for a list of holidays. I thought the appearance of a show on or very close to a holiday might spark an idea.
That’s when I saw something I had never before seen. Today, 24 January 2018, is a holiday. Can you guess what that holiday is? OK, I won’t keep you in suspense. It’s Global Belly Laugh Day.
Yes, that’s right. And if you just broke out into gut-busting laughter, then you’ve already got it. But if you were more like me, then you just snickered, smiled, and thought, “Uh, yeah. OK.”
Having just learned about the existence of Global Belly Laugh Day, I of course know nothing about it. So I started looking. And what I found made me think about LDS singles everywhere.
A little background
All these benefits sound like great antidotes to many of the challenges LDS singles face. Yet how many of us actually get enough laughter in our lives? We need to laugh a little more than we do.
Of course, I’m all for seriousness in the proper contexts. But I’m also for balance, and that means including some more laughter in our lives when that context is proper.
A little moderation
And yes, I know what some of you are thinking. You’ve whipped out your sticks or your phone as a prelude to quoting D&C 88:69, which says in part, “Cast away your idle thoughts and your excess of laughter far from you.” Or maybe you were heading to D&C 59:15, which in part says, “... not with much laughter, for this is sin ....”
Well, I have just one word for you. Actually, I have two. Whatever, dude.
Seriously, I’m not talking about anything exceeding moderation here. Anything in excess is probably not that great for you. And, yes, that includes laughter.
I can remember times in college when friends and I became so engulfed in riotous laughter that it felt intoxicating. Excess laughter can lead you to forget your propriety. You can say and do some pretty stupid things under the influence of excess laughter.
That’s clearly not what we’re advocating here. We’re promoting an approach like the one taken by the Prophet Joseph Smith. He was always one for merriment, but he also knew how to work hard and when it was time for each. His life was far from easy, but laughter provided a good inoculate to the pessimism and negativity that could have clouded his perspective.
The late Elder Joseph Wirthlin understood that approach. His last Conference address “Come What May, and Love It” describes that very attitude. If you’ve never read it, give it a go. This classic might open your eyes to a new way of living.
A little indulgence
And if none of those did it for you, find something that will. Laughter has so many positive benefits that life without enough of it isn’t much of a life. Don’t let that be your life! Make the conscious choice to find the humor around you and laugh a little more. When you do, you’ll have more joy in your journey.
It’s no secret that I love Christmas. What’s not to love? There’s a general feeling of good will that pervades everything. There’s time with friends and family. There’s all the holiday goodies that aren’t so great for the waistline but wonderful for taste buds. There’s the lights that turn ordinary neighborhoods into works of electric art at night.
And of course, there’s the real reason for the season. There’s the opportunity to renew our discipleship by following Him more fully. There’s His peace that we can feel in our hearts. There’s His light that we can share with others.
Yet for some, Christmas is simply about tradition. They enjoy friends, family, good food, and all the external trappings of the season. They may even include something spiritual in their holiday habit. But they don’t really feel the season because they’re on autopilot. They just go through the motions. Once the season is over, they return to whatever lives they had before.
Seeing these people got me thinking. Do I just go through the motions of the holiday season, or do I allow the miracle that is Christ to change my heart?
You gotta choose it
Sometimes I catch myself going through the motions. It’s not that hard to do. After all, we’re designed to have habits and play them out without thinking about what we’re doing.
But the truly fulfilled life comes only with discipline in constantly making conscious choices. We must choose consciously what we say and do. And we can’t just choose anything if we want to maximize our joy in life. We must choose Christ.
This is admittedly not the easiest task to accomplish. We are after all designed to operate out of habit. That’s why it’s more productive to leverage our natural design than to fight against it. We need to adopt the habit of not living by habit.
One way to do this is by participating in the Church’s Light the World campaign. We could also make our own calendar with actions that we choose for ourselves. Or we could go through each day of the Christmas season just looking for opportunities to share goodness. We don’t necessarily need a set plan; just an openness to whatever opportunities cross our path and a willingness to take advantage of them.
You gotta feel it
Christmas is especially appropriate for random acts of goodness. That’s what I love about this time of year. It shakes me out of my usual year-long doldrums and gets me introspective. Am I really feeling the reality of Christ within me? Or am I just on autopilot?
That is the ultimate test for me. If I’m not really feeling it inside, then it’s not really working for me. And that begs the obvious question: Why do it?
I want real. And for me, real isn’t life on autopilot. Real is life with flavor created by consciously chosen experience. I can surround myself with the real reason for the season and maybe get something out of that. Or I can consciously choose to surrender myself to Him and certainly get everything out of that.
That’s life you can feel, not just a bare existence. So whenever I realize I’m not feeling it, that’s a red flag alerting me to choose differently. I need to break my habit of living on autopilot and embrace the habit of not living by habit.
You gotta live it
Living life by conscious choice creates awareness of the joy already around us. Living life on autopilot removes that awareness. All you need for life on autopilot is to follow a habit without thinking about it.
It’s the awareness that makes all the difference. Again, that’s what I love about Christmas. It provides enough newness to shake me free of the same old same-old that bogs me down. It reminds me of my need for awareness.
Once I become aware of myself, it’s easier to live by conscious choice. And living by conscious choice results in the realization that the joy of the season is around us all year long. We simply need eyes to see.
Seeing that joy makes it easier to feel. Feeling that joy makes life delicious and truly sweet. That’s the miracle Christ makes possible for us all. He saves us not just in the next life but in this one as well. It’s a reality you can have when you consciously choose Him.
Christ truly is the real reason for the season. Are we engaging our yearly traditions on autopilot? Or are we consciously choosing Christ and allowing His miracle to save us? Consciously choosing to keep Christ in the heart is the best way to savor the season. And that will bring more joy in our journey.
The Christmas season is now in full swing upon us once again. It’s time once more for yuletide cheer and merriment. This is my favorite time of year.
Of course, along with the traditions we each practice with the season, we should always remember the reason for the season. Good thoughts and deeds are always appropriate and even more so as we remember He who gave us the best example of good thoughts and deeds.
It was He who taught “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). To that end, last year the Church promoted a campaign aimed at sharing the light we have with everyone around us during the Christmas season. Appropriately, it was called Light the World.
This year the Church has renewed that campaign. And I can’t think of a more appropriate way to celebrate the real reason for the season.
As it did last year, Light the World focuses on individual action. The Church provides leadership in the form of short videos explaining ways to light the world during each of the 25 days of Christmas. These videos and the corresponding calendar show how we can individually light the world.
I just love this bare-bones campaign. It fosters an effort that depends upon us for success. And that encourages us to live the gospel — really live it by putting it into action.
The Master taught, “Ye shall know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16). Our actions tell everyone who we really are. For what will we be known? Will those around us know us for the goodness we have? How can that happen if we don’t share the goodness we have?
Lighting the world will also light our world. Only by putting the gospel into action by living it will we ever know how real it really is. Only by setting that example can we light the way for others to know that for themselves as well.
I love the gospel more when I live to set that good example. I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know God is good and will bless us abundantly. That goodness is easier both to see and to feel when we actively participate in spreading that love to others.
People don’t light candles to hide them but rather to provide light so all may see (Matthew 5:15). In like manner, we should freely bring goodness into the world so that others can see and feel the love of God in their lives. When we do, we can’t help but love our lives more.
Just like last year, the Church has provided help with their Light the World calendar. Each day has suggestions of ways to spread goodness and thereby light the world. In addition, we can adopt our own ideas for action.
I’ve discussed previously my tradition of closing out the year by studying the Sermon on the Mount. I’ve felt love in my heart grow as I’ve taken daily action in response to my Sermon on the Mount study. Most of my actions have been small in nature, but the added light I feel inside of me has been substantial. How can any honest soul not love that?
That seems to be at least some of the intention behind Light the World, and I love it. We make the gospel more real by actually living it. And anyone who has read my posts since 2014 knows I’m all about real.
Of course, that reality doesn’t have to stop with the coming of Christmas Day, nor should it. We can feel God’s love every day by continuing to share that love with others every day. The Church’s Light the World calendar is a great aid during the 25 days leading to Christmas, but what’s to stop any of us from making our own calendar for every day of December and any other month of the year? Only ourselves.
It’s only by living true principles that we come to feel their reality in our lives. It’s only by giving love to others that we can feel the full extent of love in our own lives. We can choose for ourselves what light we will give to others. When we live true to that conviction to bring goodness into the world every day, we’ll have more joy in our journey.
It’s like they say. When life gives you lemons, keep them. Because, hey, free lemons.
Oh, did I get that wrong? Let’s try again. When life gives you lemons, make lemon chicken. After all, lemonade is so cliché, and with all that sugar probably not that good for you either.
Of course, if you want to make lemonade with your free lemons, go ahead. You’ll still be getting the point — seeing the opportunity amidst the obstacle.
Too often we LDS singles are like many others who focus so much on the obstacle that our reality becomes one of frustration. But when we focus on the opportunity that always comes with the obstacle, our reality can be one of freedom. Either way, our focus becomes our reality.
We’ve discussed before how seeing the opportunity amidst the obstacle can lighten our burdens of adversity and even help us to overcome them. Opportunities vary with the obstacle, but one is fairly constant across the spectrum. That’s the opportunity to laugh.
Make the time
With the holidays almost upon us, many seem so busy with all that needs doing because the holidays are almost upon us. They’re so busy, in fact, they’ve become rather serious — maybe too serious.
Sure, I’m all for respecting why we have the trinity of holidays that connect the years together. There’s some serious purpose in that as well as serious work needed to prepare for our associated traditions. Yet taking ourselves too seriously, we’ll miss much of the joy our Heavenly Father has provided in our journey. We must make time to laugh.
Recently I’ve discovered I’ve been too serious. Mostly it comes from my day job. I want to be known as a professional who delivers good work. Yet all science and no philosophy is no way to live life — at least not a pleasant one. I see the need to laugh more often.
I once agreed with Neil Young who sang, “It’s better to burn out than to fade away.” But now I’m starting to wonder if the reverse is true. How else will generations who outlive me see my light and benefit therefrom? Plus I’ll have more time to laugh.
Seize the opportunities
I actually have plenty of opportunities to laugh all around me. I didn’t realize how many I had until I started to look.
I have some funny movies that I haven’t watched in years. I’ve started to watch these again and have noted something. In addition to providing me with opportunities to laugh, these films have brought back memories of friends from prior years, especially ones I had in college. Remembering these people who blessed my life has lifted my spirit.
I’ve also discovered the humor section in my personal library was larger than I thought it was. Just looking through some of these tomes brought back memories of college friends I haven’t seen in years. Joy and laughter attended those memories.
For example, thumbing through my copy of The Dilbert Principle reminded me of my engineer roommate Ben and the Dilbert TV show sound clip we adopted for our answering machine message. I’ll never forget walking with him inside the Institute building when around the corner came one of our friends who upon seeing us immediately went into a tirade, screaming that she would never call our apartment again until we got that extremely long message off our machine. Just remembering that episode sets me to giggling just like my roommate and I did in that moment.
Wherever you find your humor, the point is still the same. We all have opportunities to laugh all around us. We just need to look to find them.
Make new memories
In addition to finding opportunities to laugh from memories of the past, we can make our own opportunities to laugh. In so doing, we provide joy in our journey now in the present and later in the future as we reminisce about the past.
Finding those opportunities requires a focus on finding on them. That doesn’t imply anything more than the right balance of a laid back attitude with an alert mind that can recognize opportunities when they appear.
I wish I could say I were the best at doing that. And not everyone appreciates my sense of humor. But we all have room to improve somewhere. I’ve improved over the years, but this still happens to be one of my “somewheres.”
As I apply myself and practice I’ll eventually get better. I’ll also get better as I make more time in life to laugh, something all of us should do more and more often. Take some time to find your jollies. Doing that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Howdy! I'm Lance, host of Joy in the Journey Radio. I've been blogging about LDS singles life since 2012, and since 2018 I've been producing a weekly radio show to help LDS singles have more joy in their journey and bring all Latter-day Saints together. Let's engage a conversation that will increase the faith of LDS singles and bring singles and marrieds together in a true unity of the faith.
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