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.
They’ll also need an experience to move them in that direction. Think Ebenezer Scrooge here. He was all business and no fun. But it wasn’t just Christmas Day that turned him around, because he constantly turned his heart away from the joy that day could bring with his oft repeated “Humbug!” It was the experiences with the spirit of his former business partner followed by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future that turned him around.
And one of the first things he did after resolving to keep Christmas always in his heart was to laugh.
There’s a lesson there for all of us. Laughter isn’t just an option in life but essential to true enjoyment in life. You need to laugh to live — really live and relish life. You need to laugh because your life really does depend on it.
Built to laugh
That may seem extreme to some, almost as extreme as being all business and no fun. Yet some thought upon the subject will lead to the inescapable conclusion your life really does depend on laughter.
After all, what is your life? If you define life in terms of a mediocre existence, then you might make the case that your life doesn’t depend on laughter.
But is that the life you really want? Do you really want to live on autopilot, just going through the same motions over and over, day after day? Don’t you want a life you can savor and truly relish?
Of course you do. You keep feeling the tug of that dream because you’re biologically hardwired to live it. We are built to be social creatures, and laughter connects us with other people. It’s also a natural stress reliever. Certainly your best life will enable you to manage the stress everyone encounters in life.
Taken in moderation
Of course, anything taken to excess is usually detrimental. Laughter is no exception. Taken too far, we can forget ourselves. I’ve seen social environments get so jovial people say and do things they otherwise wouldn’t.
Moderation is the key. Taken in moderation, laughter can spread joy, hope, and positive energy. It says we don’t have to choose between business and fun; we can have both. We can attend to our responsibilities, make serious progress towards our dreams and goals, and enjoy ourselves along the way.
Part of that result comes from incorporating that enjoyment into what we do. Appropriately placed, laughter can both promote and manifest that enjoyment. But I believe another part lies in setting aside time with the purpose of experiencing laughter in our lives.
Devoted with a day
That’s what’s really great about Belly Laugh Day. It’s a day devoted to laughter. And it’s perfectly placed in the middle of winter when skies overhead in many areas are typically gray and gloomy. That is, in fact, what inspired the creation of the holiday to begin with.
Whether or not you know about it, and regardless of how you choose to celebrate (or not celebrate) it, Belly Laugh Day provides an excursion into laughter. You may be an Ebenezer Scrooge who is all business and no fun, or you maybe you’re stressed under so many demands at present you feel more like crying than laughing. Either way, celebrating Belly Laugh Day can teach and remind us we need to laugh to live. Your life really does depend on it.
How will you incorporate more laughter into your life? Will you read a funny book? Or watch a funny movie? Maybe you’ll join the audience for a stand-up comic. However you take your elixir, a little laughter can lighten your load. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
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.
Last week we looked at the importance of being where we are in our dating journey. That means applying dating standards to potential dating partners, not marriage standards. Thinking about marriage when considering a casual date is like putting the cart before the horse. No wonder LDS dating is so difficult and confusing for so many!
Applying marriage standards to dating isn’t the only way LDS singles trip over their own feet when dating. Too many test their dates during the date. This practice prevents living in the moment. And you can’t fully enjoy the moment if you don’t live there.
I know what many of you are thinking. How can we know whether or not to go farther with our dating partner if we don’t test? I’m not saying don’t test. I’m saying there’s a time and place for everything, and the date is not the time or place for testing. We test best after the date, not during.
Watch your broadcast
We all broadcast our inner self to those around us. If you test your date during the date, you have an agenda, and you’ll be broadcasting that. Most people will pick up your broadcast, usually to negative effect.
That shouldn’t be surprising. Most people want to be loved for who they really are and not part of some agenda or project. When you test your date during the date, you broadcast you don’t really care about your date as a person but rather as a means to an end.
One of two things typically happens. First, not wanting to be filler material, your date could withdraw from you. If your date could’ve made an excellent companion for you, then you just shot yourself in the foot. You just extended your singles life. Congratulations!
And the other possible outcome? Your test makes your date far more nervous and anxious. He or she knows, in order to go any further with you, he or she must pass your test. But not knowing exactly what the right response is or even what the test itself is, your date will likely bumble his or her way through the date, leaving you with a false impression of who they are.
And that could very well lead you to make the wrong call.
Learn from others
I once knew a woman who was in many respects a perfect companion for me. So of course I was interested in knowing her better. After a few texts and emails, we went out a few times.
Yet in all our interactions, I couldn’t escape the feeling she was testing me. That feeling was especially strong during our dates. I kept trying to put on a good performance without knowing what she wanted to see or hear. All the while, I never really enjoyed our time together because I never could. I was always worried I would say or do the wrong thing, and it would be one too many wrong things, leading her to say “Thanks, but no thanks.”
In the end that’s exactly what happened. She simply walked away.
The last I saw of her was at a singles activity. She came with some guy I’d never before seen. And after months of non-response, she suddenly started talking with me as though we were best friends. Even here she was still testing me. After hearing an clearly unwanted answer to a question about my employment (at the time I was between jobs), she walked away. I never saw or heard from her again.
You must risk
Some might say this experience proves we weren’t meant to be together. My own experience tells me we would have been good companions for each other. I don’t know what happened to her, but I hope she got what she wanted.
I can understand her perspective. Her divorce was particularly painful, and she wanted assurance she wouldn’t experience that pain again. That’s completely understandable.
Yet love is such that you must risk in order to get reward. You can’t get the relationship you really want without making yourself vulnerable. I wish she could have let go during our dates and just enjoyed my company. Even if things still didn’t work out, we might have been friends.
Don’t test your dates during the date. Just be yourself and enjoy what the other person has to offer. You can evaluate your date after the date. Then is the time when you can thoughtfully consider whether going further with this person is a good idea or not.
When you’re interacting with others, be present in that moment. Doing so will allow to experience all the joy that moment has to offer. And that will bring more joy in your journey.
Last week we discussed the need for LDS singles to expand their casual dating pools to include everyone — well, almost everyone; jerks, stalkers, and criminals need not apply. Many LDS singles resist expanding their casual dating pools because they inappropriately pre-judge potential dating partners by filtering for marriage material.
Superficially, that seems to make sense. Dating leads to marriage, and we don’t want to end up with someone we don’t really want. Plus spending all that time and money with someone who won’t be with you in the end seems wasteful. Isn’t it better not to start if you won’t finish?
This logic prevalent among LDS singles keeps many of them single longer than needful — in some cases, much, much longer. Here’s a more effective approach: Apply standards to where you are in your dating journey. Don't reject a date based on your standards for marriage. Reject a date based on your standards for dating.
Know where you are
Effectively applying standards to dating requires you to understand where you are on the map of your dating journey. With that in mind, let’s review what we’ve learned recently about the stages of the dating journey.
Know your next step
You don’t need a map to know where you’re going. But a map becomes very useful to tell you how to get there.
Understanding the different stages of the dating journey helps you know where are on the map. That begs the obvious question: How do I get where I want to go?
You don’t climb a mountain by constantly staring at the peak. You climb a mountain by looking where your feet you are and taking a step forward. Your focus, then, should be on the next step in front of you, not the end goal.
Once you know where you are in your dating journey, your next step will be to secure the agreement for the next stage. If you don’t have the necessary agreement, you don’t progress. Period. That’s why this is your next step.
Be where you are
That’s harder to do when you’re staring constantly at the summit and never on where your feet actually are. How long will it be before you trip and land on your face?
Many LDS singles find dating disagreeable because that’s exactly what they experience. They keep tripping and landing on their face. If that’s your experience, here’s some free advice: Stop looking at the summit! Be where you are.
If you focus on where your feet are and take the next step directly before you, and then the next one, and so on, eventually you’ll climb the mountain. So focus on where your feet are: Apply standards of dating to dates.
This of course means you might date someone you wouldn’t marry. So what? That’s perfectly normal; everyone dates people they never marry. Only by dating lots of people will you better know that right type of person who demands more serious consideration.
Because you’ll date people you’ll never marry, your standards will change with each stage of the dating journey. You’ll casually date people you won’t commitedly date. And you’ll committedly date people you won’t marry.
Recognizing these truths makes it easier to be where you are. You can better enjoy someone’s company irrespective of whether or not you’ll marry that same person when you focus on that moment rather than on some agenda to achieve a future goal.
Applying standards of dating to dating helps you to be in the place where you are. This in turn helps you to live more fully in the moment and makes you more attractive to someone who can help you be where you want to be. And that will bring more joy in your journey.
Last week I described the best vacation I’ve ever had. It imbued me with a new attitude and zest for life. I feel I have endless opportunity to bring my life to the next level.
Some of those opportunities I found by identifying knowledge I lack. For example, to improve my relationships with family members, I can acquire better communication skills. I decided to look for a book or other resource that can help me learn those skills.
We often think about school when thinking about learning. But sometimes the learning we need is in the local library. We can often create our own “courses” to acquire the knowledge and skills we need with the resources which many libraries provide to their patrons for free.
Regardless of the venue, we all need to be learning something in order to take any aspect of life to the next level. There’s even value in learning something simply for the sake of learning. Simply put, if you’re not always learning, then you’re missing out on opportunities to get more out of your life.
We believe in learning
We Latter-day Saints inherently believe in continuous learning. It’s encoded in our religion. After all, “the glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth” (D&C 93:36).
In a great treatise on truth, the Lord describes acquiring light so that it grows “brighter and brighter until the perfect day” (D&C 50:24). He later extolled, “Seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith” (D&C 88:118). We also have His admonition to “study and learn, and become acquainted with all good books, and with languages, tongues, and people” (D&C 90:15).
We don’t have to learn everything at once, “for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength,” but we must be diligent in applying ourselves, “that thereby [we] might win the prize” (Mosiah 4:27). As the Prophet Joseph learned while translating the Book of Mormon, “Do not run faster or labor more than you have strength and means provided to enable you to translate; but be diligent unto the end” (D&C 10:4).
And we have the assurance our diligence will be rewarded, “for every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened” (3 Nephi 14:8). Embracing learning in every stage of life can open new pathways to live our religion more fully and deepen the measure of our faith.
We have endless opportunity
Every stage of life also provides endless learning opportunities. We can acquire new knowledge for our current stage in life or transition into the next. We can also learn for its own sake.
I’ve known several single sisters who saw the need to return to school. Providing for their family required earning more income, which they weren’t getting outside of a career path which a college degree would open for them.
It certainly wasn’t easy. Just working and raising their children is challenge enough. Adding school into that mix was no picnic, but they squared their shoulders and did what was necessary to conquer the challenge before them.
Other LDS singles need simply to learn more about their current career path. Rather than change careers, they need to learn skills that can make them more valuable in the marketplace. If that describes you, seek advice from successful professionals in your field. If you do what they do long enough, their success can be yours.
The world is filled with so much to learn about. It’s hard for people on the learning train to get bored. But if they ever do, they can always sit in another car and keep enjoying the ride.
Embrace your opportunity
What do you need to learn to take your life to next level? What do you need to learn to improve your relationships or your employment? What do you need to learn to grow and embrace the blessings your Heavenly Father has prepared for you?
And let’s not forget learning just for the sake of learning. Learning for its own sake is great for enhancing curiosity. And it’s curiosity that opens the doors to greater joy in living.
Whatever you need to learn, when you partner with the Lord, you can counsel with Him on how you should proceed. In my life, I’ve often found that the resources I need to learn what I need to learn cross my path if I share my concerns with Him and then proceed about my way with an open mind. Embracing those opportunities has greatly enriched my life.
In short, learning simply enhances the value of living. And that brings us more joy in our journey.
LDS singles life has its ups and downs, just like any other life. Focusing too much on the negative can lead us to overestimate the proportion of challenges in our lives. We can think things are worse than they really are. We can even think life has little if any positive value.
Many of us Latter-day Saints have sung, "Then wake up and do something more/ Then dream of your mansions above." How many of us truly live that message? Do we spend our time simply dreaming about the future we want? Do we while away the hours fretting about a past we cannot change? Or do we focus on taking action now, on what we can do in the present moment, to make our dreams reality?
The world would have us believe happiness in life comes from having something: money, possessions, status, a significant other. But true happiness comes from living in the moment. That means bringing your all to doing the right things in the here and now, in the today.
Stop dreaming about tomorrow or fretting about yesterday at the expense of living today. Regardless of your circumstances, you can be happy in the present moment.
Capture a vision
Living in the present moment may not appeal to you if your life is dull or unpleasant. Imagining an attractive future will always seem more comfortable. After all, you can imagine anything you want, and it’s really easy to escape there.
Hey, Dolly Daydream! Try this much better use for your imagination. Instead of escaping the present unattractive moment, let's put that imagination to work changing the present moment. Let's figure out what you can do today to make today a better, more attractive place.
There's a big difference between imagining a better future and creating a positive vision. If you use your imagination simply as an escape, your life will never change. Life changes only when you change.
And you generally aren't any better for just dreaming. If you spend all your time dreaming instead of acting, you’re not getting any closer to making that dream reality. Dwelling in a comfortable tomorrow that never comes is a true waste of time.
Alternatively, you can use your imagination to discover avenues for change. You can create a vision of greatness for your life. And you can take action that lies within your control and unfolds that vision. After all, no one's world changes without action.
And no one’s world changes without changes in themselves. It’s human nature to blame everyone else around you and say you’re not where you want to be or who you want to be because of him or her or them or anybody else but yourself. But no one who has that habit is ever happy. That’s because happiness requires you to own your life.
Truly happy people aren’t blind to the challenges of mortality. They don’t wear rose-colored glasses and play Polly Anna all day. They simply look to better themselves instead of wishing everything around them were better. They seek to improve upon themselves so they can come off conqueror against their challenges.
True happiness is giving your all to the right things in your life. You can’t give your all when you’re constantly looking for someone other than yourself to blame. That’s why happiness requires you to own your life. Accept that where you are and who you are result from choices you’ve made, and then move from that starting point towards the dream destination you desire.
Remember your tender mercies
Don’t forget to acknowledge the tender mercies all around you. They help you see you're not alone in your journey. The Creator of all things — and that all things includes you — will help you achieve your righteous desires. Each of His tender mercies proves that truth which is both instructive and personally reassuring.
Being happy in the present moment, regardless of your circumstances, requires that you surrender your cares to the Lord and yourself to love. He Who calmed the winds and the waves invites
No matter what obstacles you face, He can and will help you achieve the blessings He wants you to have. The winds and the waves still obey Him. They always have, and they always will. While your journey may at times be uncomfortable, He can, does, and will help you to make it enjoyable.
Remembering His tender mercies reminds us He loves us and will never abandoned us. Remembering His strength gives us strength to trust all will be well in the end. And those memories provide courage to continue stepping forward in our lives.
When you have that faith, you can truly be happy in the present moment. And that will bring more joy in your journey.
It appears Sno-mageddon is alive and well. Normally when it snows here, it’s gone within a couple of days. Not this winter. Cold and colder temps attend every dumping of snow over previous layers of snow-turned-ice.
For a while I thought we might be getting a break. I’ve been taking advantage of it while preparing to start a new semester. But today, Sno-mageddon struck again, furiously dumping inches of snow within minutes. The college soon cancelled classes.
I’m somewhat disappointed. I certainly want my students safe. But with Monday being a holiday and now today being cancelled, we’ve just passed our first week of the semester without ever having class!
Yet when I learned of the school closure, I didn’t shift into panic mode or even survival mode. I shifted into thrive mode by preparing to take what I’ve been given and shine gloriously with it.
Not here to fail
My experience today resembles LDS singles life. Just as I didn’t anticipate a freak blizzard eliminating class, many LDS singles have met unintended circumstances. We were preparing for a different experience when events beyond our control forced us in a new direction.
Lost opportunities can yield heartache, disappointment, and concern about the future. Yet we can always choose our response.
Many of us struggle to choose optimism. We yearn after hope but feel overwhelmed by despair. I’ve felt that many times in my life. How do you go on when everything around you seems to say you’ll never do anything but fail?
You must awake to this realization: Not everything around you indicates you’ll fail. God certainly doesn’t believe that about you. He loves you. He believes in you. He sent you here to succeed and that gloriously. And He’s constantly pleading with you to believe in those truths. When you do, “the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).
More than surviving
We can get so busy keeping up with life’s demands that we wonder if we’ll ever succeed in having a good life, let alone our best life. Mere survival appears increasingly like a noble virtue.
But do you think God sent you here so you could merely survive? Or did He send you here to thrive?
Thriving is more than surviving. Thriving is living life with zest and optimism. It’s living in the moment, extracting every ounce of joy that moment offers. It’s exuding confidence in the future that faith will not go unrewarded.
I honestly don’t see how any Latter-day Saint — single or married — can experience that without partnering with the Lord for his or her life. That’s best done by seeking Him first.
Yet many of us are seeking first the wrong life partner. We naturally want to belong, so when our culture pairs belonging with marriage, we look for someone who’ll help us belong. Plus we yearn for someone who can take away the loneliness, discouragement, and pain of being single.
That someone is Christ. He taught, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 5:40). Instead of looking first for an eternal companion to alleviate our troubles, we should look first for the Lord Who can do that and more. Instead of seeking first that special someone to take to the temple, we should seek first to walk with the Lord in the temple.
Weather any storm
The Lord’s love provides the strength to weather any storm. Nephi understood this. Bound to his ship’s mast in a violent sea, his wrists and ankles became severely swollen. Yet he didn’t complain nor cease to look to the Lord. Nephi always had trouble, yet he partnered with the Lord. Can anyone honestly think his life was not his best life?
The Lord can lift you to heights you could never imagine alone. Why settle for the companion you might have now when He can lead you to the companion you most need to have, the one you need for your best life?
With the Lord at your side, you can trust all will eventually resolve for your good. That faith allows you to release everything preventing you from living life joyfully in this and every moment. Hope, optimism, and positive energy naturally result from living with the Lord as your first life partner.
Don’t just survive. Thrive! Partner first with the Lord Who will help you to hear the whisperings of His Spirit more fully, see His tender mercies around you every day, and feel His love for you in powerful and undeniable ways. He can make more out of your life than you can without Him. He will bring you to your best life. And that will certainly provide you with more joy in your journey.
This week I’m taking vacation so I can work. Work is piling up at my job, I’m neglecting activities needed for my own businesses, and even things in my personal life are slipping.
I need some space to unearth myself. And my solution for getting it is taking a break from my usual commitments, clearing out the clutter, resetting my priorities, and starting anew.
We all have times like this. Many marrieds in the Church think we singles have so much time on our hands because we don’t have families of our own. That’s obviously not true for single parents. They have constant double duty. But the lives of LDS singles who don’t have children can be just as busy, as my recent experience testifies.
Last week I extolled our need to live in the moment to get all of the joy out of life. I did so with the full understanding that sometimes life happens, making it difficult to live in the moment. With so many good things pulling us in different directions, it’s easy to get swept away in the cares of right now. How can you have the presence of mind to live in the moment?
Make a space
I heard a speaker in sacrament meeting give a great answer to that question. She described the challenges of being a young mother who needed to attend to her children while also being able to engage regular scripture study. Obviously young children require a great deal of attention, so how do you find that balance?
Her answer was to arise early enough before her little ones awake so she can focus on immersing herself in the scriptures before they cry for attention. In other words, she made a space in which she could live consciously without other interests tugging on her.
Sometimes living with intent is hard. It’s really easy to allow the concerns of right now to sweep us away. And sometimes those concerns yell so loudly and incessantly it’s hard to find any joy in the moment.
Yet we can’t get so busy with the everyday that we don’t fill our souls. We can’t stay happy in the moment unless we stop long enough for the Lord to feed us. And that requires us to make conscious choices to be fed and nourished.
It's about the journey
forward . . . That’s how winning is done!” Living fully isn’t about reaching an ideal. It’s about struggling to reach that ideal. It’s not the destination. It’s the journey.
Sometimes moving forward means standing still. When life seems to crowd in around us, we need to choose consciously to stop and clear the space we need to nourish ourselves. And every aspect of us needs nourishment.
Our most important aspect to nourish is the spirit. Regular prayer and scripture study can work wonders. But we need to clear sufficient space and be conscious in our approach for them to be most effective. Just going through the motions won’t feed our souls.
Likewise we need to nourish the heart. Quality time with family and friends as well as engaging regular opportunities for service make life meaningful and enjoyable. Again, going through the motions won’t nourish us.
We also need to nourish the mind. Reading good books rounds our character and encourages us to emulate virtue. So can worthy cultural events. But in order to reap the benefit, we need to clear the space they need to exist.
And we can’t forget to nourish the body. This means embracing healthy eating habits and regular exercise. But it also means having healthy financial habits and improving the skills needed for our career.
Of course, how you choose to nourish yourself is your choice. Just make sure your choice is yours. Do what you do not because of how it will look to others but because of how it looks to you.
Make the time to fill your soul. Life will always try to knock you down, but you can better weather the storm with the inner strength that comes from nourishing all the aspects of yourself.
Last week I extolled the virtue of exercising patience with leaders who mostly don’t understand our LDS singles experience. Patience is often a conscious choice, one not made out of habit. Patience helps us to live more in the moment.
Living in the moment is where we find the true joy of living, regardless of our individual circumstances. Life doesn’t have to be everything we want it to be for us to enjoy it. That joy starts when we consciously choose to live in the moment.
Living in the moment means being present in the now. Too often LDS singles aren’t present in the now. Rather they’re present in the future — a future when an eternal companion provides them with the rite of passage that brings acceptance within LDS subculture.
But living in the future (and one which for many LDS singles never seems to come) forfeits the joy of living found only in the present moment. The joy of living now comes only by living in the now. And that’s true regardless of your circumstances.
You need a choice, not a plan
I remember a singles conference where one speaker talked about living in the moment. She encouraged intentional living. Living with intention can lead you to own your life. And I’m a big fan of owning your life.
Then the speaker defined intentional to mean having a plan. The joy of living in the moment, she declared, comes from following a plan.
I couldn’t disagree more.
Due to our design as human beings to follow habits, I define intentional to mean choosing consciously. Living with intent means you choose in the moment to do what you do. Conscious choices in the moment refuse to let your habits simply play themselves out, allowing you to embrace life and all the true joy of living.
You don’t need a plan for any of that to unfold for you. All you need is to use the one gift from God we all have — agency. You simply make a conscious choice.
Make the happy life
Happiness comes not from just doing the right things but from giving your all to the right things. That giving your all is a conscious choice. And when you choose that path with full awareness and intent to pursue it, the true joy of being alive can come to you.
Life on autopilot offers comfort and a sense of stability, but true joy isn’t found in comfort and stability alone. True joy comes from consciously embracing the right things.
I use that word embracing intentionally. You can’t just execute a routine of righteous activity and expect happiness to find you. The happy life doesn’t find you. You have to make it. That requires choosing the right things with intention. That means breaking out of the habit of routine living. And that means embracing the right things in your life.
Choose to lift yourself
Too often we LDS singles don’t. Eager for acceptance within a culture that prizes marriage and family as the door to belonging, we LDS singles often focus on the future to that eternal companion we all yearn to have.
Yet your focus always determines your reality. Focusing on what you don’t have now always fills your reality with a heightened awareness of what you don’t have now. A life that feels lacking is never enjoyable.
However, the same principles work in the other direction. Focusing on what you do have now fills your reality with gratitude. You begin to see how richly the Lord has blessed you. Life starts feeling plentiful.
That focus on what you have now is key to living in the moment. Focusing on the present and not the future is a conscious choice that helps you live with intention. And the gift of agency from a loving Heavenly Father brings that choice within reach of us all.
You don’t need a plan to live with intention. You need simply to focus on what you’re doing in the present moment. Then you can breathe with confidence. You can walk with boldness. You can let go of everything drawing your focus to the future and bring your focus to the present moment. When you make these choices consciously, you open yourself to a life you can savor regardless of your circumstances.
Righteous intentional choices lift what you do to a new level because in so doing you give your all to the right things. And when you give your all to the right things, life in return gives back to you all the joy and satisfaction of a life well lived. You’ll always get what you give, so give your all to the right things and get the life that’s right in all ways for you.
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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