Interpret others more appropriately
The first lesson took me years to learn. But once I got it, what a difference it made! After all, how you think about yourself largely contributes to how you portray yourself to others.
Most people believe the actions of others reflect their identity. When someone summarily dismisses you, it’s easy to believe it’s because you don’t have any value. Those who believe this fallacy can easily disparage themselves into depression.
But what others say or do doesn’t reflect your identity but rather your effort. If people are passing you by, it’s not because you don’t have value but rather because you don’t offer value. Offering is a choice, one we all can make. Focusing on what you can do rather than on what you lack always produces a more positive reality.
True, not everyone will respond positively to your offering. Some simply won’t see any value in it. But that just means they’re visually impaired. What will you do to help them see? Again, focusing on what you can do produces a more positive reality.
See as God sees
Perhaps the most important choice you can make to help others see your value is to learn to see as God sees. I’ve been learning this lesson over many years, and I’m still learning. But what I have learned so far has improved my life tremendously.
What do you think God sees when He looks at you? We’ve all heard“the worth of souls is great in the sight of God” (D&C 18:10). But why is that? What does He really see when He looks at you?
He sees potential. His sight isn’t confined to the moment, as our sight often is. He sees not just what we are today or even what we were yesterday but we can be tomorrow. Too often, especially when we’re discouraged, we aren’t looking forward to our potential but rather behind to what we were. We tell ourselves so often the lie about our past determining our future that we believe it. If only we could see as God sees!
That’s not likely to happen without partnering with the Lord. When you let Him guide your feet, He can also guide your eyes. We see a marvelous example in Enoch, who initially didn’t see very much in himself (Moses 6:31). But the Lord helped him to see more clearly (Moses 6:35-36), and the result was mountains moved and rivers turned from their course (Moses 7:13). Just as He helped Enoch see his potential, the Lord will help you see yours when you partner with Him.
Loving yourself will also help you see that potential. You know yourself better than most people, so they’ll simply take their cues about you from you. If you’re discouraged about yourself, then most people will follow that lead.
Conversely, if you’re care about you, then most people will follow that lead. When you demonstrate through your actions that you’re worth something, most people will also think you’re worth something and act accordingly. Again, people respond not to who you are but rather to what you do. And you choose what you do.
So choose to learn the lessons that reveal your true beauty. Learn to interpret others more appropriately, see yourself as God sees you, and love yourself. In learning those lessons, you’ll come to see you really are beautiful. You’ll release yourself from an unnecessary burden of despair and depression. You’ll feel more hopeful and optimistic about your future. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Fortify it all
That statement, of course, begs the question: What are those right things? They’re the same right things I’ve used before to define happiness — giving your all to all the right things for you. That’s more than just keeping the standards. That means everything that’s right for you.
Of course, we need to build a fortress that provides spiritual safety. Any other victory in life would be hollow with spiritual vulnerability. It won’t matter in the end what else we’ve chosen if we haven’t chosen Christ.
That said, we need fortification for all other areas of life. What are we doing to fortify our most important relationships? What fortifications are we building to protect our minds? And how are we fortifying our physical bodies, our personal finances, and our careers?
Elder Rasband declared,
Do you think Satan highlights our disappointments only when those disappointments are spiritual? You’re awfully naive if you do.
Get the spiritual first
The key to fortifying every aspect of our lives lies with first fortifying the spiritual. As Elder Rasband taught, “For our safety, we must build a fortress of spirituality and protection for our very souls, a fortress that will not be penetrated by the evil one.” Once we have the spiritual fortifications in place, every other fortification can and will follow.
Partnering with the Lord is essential in constructing that bulwark. We’ve all heard the Prophet teach we won’t spiritually survive the coming days if we can’t receive revelation. Elder Rasband referenced that teaching in his own remarks. The Lord can show us what next steps we need to take.
Elder Rasband continued,
That’s a key concept — building faith in the Lord on the inside so you can build your fortress for protection on the outside.
Get good with you
All of this depends on you getting good with you. When you combine personal righteousness with clarity of identity and purpose, you attune yourself to the celestial frequency of revelation. Without that clarity, excessive internal static will override the revelatory signal you need to receive.
Once you get good with you, everything else will follow. You’ll know better how to protect your most important relationships. You’ll know better the messages you need to feed your mind. And you’ll know better how to protect your job, your finances, and your health. In the very least, partnering with the Lord can lead you to a resource you need to find answers.
For every part of your life, build your fortress. Partner with the Lord, get good with you, and get the revelation you need to prepare for what is to come. You’ll feel the peace and security that can come in no other way. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Get on the learning train
We’ve discussed before the need to quit life on autopilot and live life intentionally. Refusing to break out of the same old routines will keep your life in that same old routine. To have something you never had, you have to do something you never did.
That’s where learning a new skill can help you live your best life. Doing something new intentionally breaks you out of the same old routine. You’re reaching for a new experience you can use to help make a new life — your best life!
As we’ve already mentioned, to have your best life, you need other people. When you learn something new, you have something you can use to involve those other people in your life and influence them to decide in your favor.
Imagine two people, one who’s content with staying the same and another who’s busy learning a new skill. Who do you want to get to know more about? Certainly not the one content with staying the same. That person will just influence you to stay the same, and that means not living your best life. However, the one busy learning a new skill offers hope that life can be better than what it has been, that the changes you want to have your best life are possible.
Including learning something new in your conversations with other people will not only give you something interesting to talk about but also makes you more interesting to others, enabling you to forge more effective connections with them that will influence them to decide in your favor. Learning something new in a class environment can also be the means for meeting the new people you need to have your best life.
Select your skill
What new skill should you learn? With no limit on what you could choose, the options are endless. But the best skill you can learn is always the one you need to learn right now.
This is where partnering with the Lord comes in. He can help you understand what you should do. We’ve discussed before how the Lord is anxious to assist us as we journey towards our best life.
That said, He may see wisdom in letting you decide for yourself. In that event, just follow your heart. What have you always wanted to do? Perhaps it’s to play a musical instrument. Or maybe you want to speak a foreign language. Maybe you want to have more confidence in conversations. Perhaps you’d like to learn how to cook something new. Or maybe it’s to draw or swim or sew. Select something you want to try and go for it!
Get after it now
Once you’ve made your choice, don’t delay! Start today! Start right now to do something that will move you in that direction of learning your new skill.
Starting now, even if your action is minuscule, sets you up for success. Results come from one thing and one thing only — action. So when you delay taking action, you delay receiving results. The more you do that, the easier it gets to delay more and more.
But when you take action, no matter how small, you set yourself on the path of action. That makes it easier for you to take more action. The more you do that, the easier it gets to take more and more action, until at last you have your results.
So don’t wait. Try something new today. You’ll get out of life on autopilot and embrace the enthusiasm and vigor from living with intention. You’ll be better able to influence for good other people in your life as well as to bring into your life those others who you need for 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.
Our LDS culture hands each of us a life plan describing how life is supposed to go. We go on a mission, do college, start the career, and somewhere in that mix get married. Then we live happily ever after with our eternal companion.
But the lives of many LDS singles differ greatly from that story. Some haven’t married, others divorce, and still others lose a spouse to death. Whatever the reason, those who find themselves single when they don’t want to be consider that happily-ever-after story nothing more than a fairy tale.
And LDS singles deal with the shock of that unexpected life chapter in multiple ways. Some enter paralysis, unable to move outside of their newly found rut. Some despair, thinking all hope is lost for them. Others question themselves, wondering what sin they committed to deserve losing the blessings they were promised. Other responses run the spectrum of possibilities.
Yet no matter the reason or the response, one truth continues to shine brightly. Just because your life hasn’t turned out the way you anticipated doesn’t mean all is lost. There is always hope because there is always Christ. And we take the first step to grasping that hope when we ditch the plan our culture has been feeding us.
Get a better map
Whatever your destination, you need an accurate map. A map that doesn’t match your current landscape will do nothing more than obstruct and frustrate you. It’ll never help you find your way. And that won’t change until you get a better map.
That’s why most LDS singles need to ditch the life plan our culture feeds us. It doesn’t represent their current landscape. Perhaps it was fine for where they were, but it’s not a good map for where they are right now. Want to move forward with your life? Get a better map!
That better map will one you create after you partner with the Lord. President Ezra Taft Benson taught that Christ can make more out of our lives than we can on our own. He has the better map we need. When we turn to Him, He’ll guide the next steps of our journey.
Let go of the past
Still, some among us insist on keeping that defunct life plan despite its mismatch with their current landscape. Accordingly, they feel stuck, unable to move, because they can never live that plan. Try as they might, they can’t travel back in time to make different choices. We all must play the hand we’re dealt.
While in college, I had the possibility of conforming to the life plan. But that ship has long since sailed. So any insistence on my part to hold on to this life plan is insanity. I’d be grasping at lost opportunities that’ll never be anywhere but in the past. And no one can move forward until they let go of the past.
Why would any of us fight against reason and keep ourselves immobile by holding on to the past? Reasons will vary with the individual, but many singles associate belonging with conforming to that cultural life plan. The need to belong is a basic human need, and so they don’t want to accept the possibility that need won’t ever be met.
Follow His plan
And that’s the lie from our culture that we shouldn’t believe. When the mark of belonging is being married with kids, you’ll never feel like you belong while you’re single. Singles by definition aren’t married, which means by definition they don’t belong.
But you don’t have to believe that. You don’t have to believe what’s handed to you. You can adopt your own mark of belonging, one centered on Christ and your desire to be true to the covenants you’ve made with Him. And adopting a personal ministry can help you do just that.
When you partner with the Lord and surrender yourself completely to the personal ministry He shows you, you’ll look forward to the goodness you can contribute into the lives of others. The better map you need for your journey involves a personal ministry. And the Lord can use your focus on others through the vehicle of a personal ministry to help you let go of the past, embrace the joy to be found in facing forward, and make more out of your life than you can alone.
So ditch the plan our LDS culture feeds us about life and partner with the Lord. He’ll heal you and help you to move forward. He’ll show you the next steps you need to take. And He’ll guide you in your personal ministry as you focus on contributing goodness into the lives of others. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
I’ve been thinking recently about what I do here — this program, the blog, and everything connected to it. I’ve had such hopes and plans for helping LDS singles everywhere live better, more joyful lives. I still do.
Bit by bit, it’s all coming together. I’ve come so far since that very first blog post on 12/12/12. I’ve come so far from that first blog post on this website, the post in which I declared my desire for real in my life. I’ve come so far from providing audio clip readings of my posts. And I’ve got farther yet to go before I’m done.
These accomplishments and dreams inspire me. Yet my mind turns to those who could have such accomplishments and dreams but don’t. They don’t believe they’re meant for anything extraordinary. They don’t see how anything approaching greatness could ever involve them. The future they see holds no promise, no hope, and no joy.
If that describes you, I hope you listen closely to the program today. I have a special message just for you. And it’s this: Don’t you dare give up on yourself.
Choose your joy
I know the depths of depression, the darkness that can envelope a soul in despair so devoid of hope that one wonders how life could ever be joyful for any but the luckiest among us. But I also know that vision doesn’t have to represent anyone’s reality. You can choose your joy.
Once, my sense of “logic” would find such statements repugnant, not to mention incomprehensible. What I see now that I didn’t see then are the faulty assumptions underneath that thinking. Just because others believe something doesn’t make it true. Nor does it mean you have to believe it. You can believe what you want to believe.
And you can believe that what you believe and how you think will ultimately determine your reality. That’s how our brains are biologically hardwired. You can choose to think more effectively, to give yourself messages filled with positive energy, to put controls around your emotions, to choose your joy. You can choose your reality.
Let your light shine
Because you can choose your reality, you can choose to be a victim, or you can choose to be a victor. You can choose to wallow within your own self-absorption. Or you can choose to look outside yourself to how you can bless the lives of others.
Think of what that means. We all posses the awesome potential for bringing goodness into the world, for making a real difference in the lives of others. That means you have that potential. You can inspire others to shine their lights bringing goodness into the lives of others when you shine your light bringing goodness into their lives.
But what would happen if you choose not to shine your light, not to make your contribution of goodness into the world? Would others falter because they never had the light you could shine? Would someone surrender to negativity because he or she didn’t have quite enough reserves to resist, reserves that would have been sufficient with your contribution?
The Master 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). What distance between God and individual men and women will not be shortened when you choose not to make your contribution?
Partner with Him
That’s why you should never dare to give up on yourself. It’s not about you; it’s about all of us. So when you give up on yourself, you’re giving up on the people who stand to benefit from the contribution you could make, a contribution only you can make. When you give up on yourself, you give up on all of the rest of us.
When many of us look our meager offerings, we wonder how so much could ever hang in the balance. How could our contribution ever be so important? The Lord’s disciples thought this way when they saw they had only five loaves and two fishes (see Matthew 14:17). How could so little feed so many? And yet in the hands of the Master it did. Likewise, the Master can work miracles in the lives of others as you follow His direction to give your contribution.
Don’t you dare give up on yourself! When life looks bleak, partner with the Lord. He will heal you so you believe in yourself and your contribution. He will lead you to those who need your contribution. And His hands will transform your contribution into miracles in their lives. You can bask in their love for you and for the Lord when you make that contribution you can make. And that will bring more joy in your journey.
Given that Singles Awareness Day — oh, excuse me — Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, it seems appropriate today to talk about something from the program last week that got me thinking. Many of us know how we want life to be. But it’s been said life is what happens while you were making other plans. Life has a way of turning out differently than we planned.
Many singles plan to find the perfect companion — someone they’re meant to be with, someone easy for them to fall passionately in love with and who falls passionately in love with them — and to get married and have a family and live the rest of their lives in a blissful happily ever after.
Then life happens. They notice life doesn’t match their idyllic dream. And that mismatch presents questions of compromise: Should they wait for the one who’s right for them forever, or should they just take the one who’s here right now because the one who’s right for them forever doesn’t seem to be coming and that person who’s right here seems good enough for right now?
Are our dreams portents of a possible future or a cruel joke of mortality? Why do we dream if the dreams never become real? Do they never materialize because they weren’t meant to be or because we aren’t good enough?
You’re not good enough
There’s two ways to answer that question. Here’s the first: Of course, we aren’t good enough. That’s why Christ plays such an essential role in our Heavenly Father’s plan.
If we were good enough, we could secure eternal blessings on our own. We wouldn’t need a Savior. We could simply persevere with hard work to secure our blessings.
But that’s not how it works. Yes, we need to work hard to achieve our goals and dreams. But we’re not likely to achieve them on our own because too often we get in our own way.
And that’s the beautiful part of the Atonement. Elder Bednar put it beautifully when he declared
Christ saves us not just from sin but from ourselves — our mistakes, our imperfections, our propensities to fail, and the natural man or woman residing inside each of us.
You are good enough
There’s another side to that coin, though. It says we are good enough to secure eternal blessings. Last week, I introduced the analogy of the electoral college. In the US, we elect the chief executive with a winner-take-all voting system that appropriates different numbers of votes to each state based on population. All a candidate needs to win is 270 electoral votes. And you can get that without the state with the most electoral votes. The current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is a case in point.
In like manner, many singles think they need to be perfect to secure their dream companion. Yet we’re all so mired in imperfection that many singles wonder how they could ever be agreeable to an acceptable marriage partner. That happens in the same way the President doesn’t need to win California to become the President. Those who are serious about what marriage really entails generally evaluate other people as a whole package. That means strengths in some areas can compensate for weaknesses in others.
Of course, that doesn’t justify ignoring our weaknesses. We should always do our best to improve in every area of ourselves and then trust the Lord to make up the difference. And Christ can make up the difference because He is the difference — the difference between eternal glory and eternal misery.
Partner with the Lord
In the end, we can best secure the blessings we desire when we partner with the Lord and walk with Him on the proper path towards our blessings. The Spirit will reveal to us the next steps along that path. And the Lord will grant us the courage we need to take those next steps.
Here as in every other way, your focus becomes your reality. When you focus on what you don’t have and can’t do, your reality becomes filled with lack and inability. That leads to frustration, anger, disillusionment, and despair. But when you focus on what you do have and can do, your reality fills with abundance and possibility. That leads to encouragement, appreciation, illumination, and hope.
Are you good enough to achieve your dreams and desires? Of course you are — when you partner with the Lord. So instead of the pity party many singles have on days like tomorrow, choose instead to partner with the Lord. Counsel with Him to develop an action plan that will get you moving forward. When you move in that direction, you’ll make real progress towards your eternal blessings. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Last week we discussed the importance of taking action to get the results we want in life. Often that means practicing small habits every day that lead to our desired results. When we stay consistent with those habits, eventually we achieve the results we want.
For example, if I want to learn to play the piano, I need a daily habit of piano practice. I need to dedicate a set amount of time every day to learning how to play.
Sometimes, however, the small daily habits needed for desired results are not so simple to envision. Many LDS singles wonder what habits will help them achieve the temple marriage they desire. Some may think the small daily habits they need revolve around finding the right person. Such an approach assumes people don’t need to improve upon themselves to attract the right person into their life.
And that’s why that approach rarely works. All of us have such imperfections that looking to improve ourselves is really the more effective approach. Instead of looking to find the one companion we want to take into our life, we need to be the one companion for the person we seek.
Make yourself more agreeable
Effective approaches often find root in fundamental principles. So how is being the one instead of looking for the one rooted in the fundamental principles of LDS dating? It all revolves around agreements.
Progress in your dating journey depends upon your ability to secure each agreement you need to move to the next stage of your journey. That means you need to be agreeable in someone’s view, because people aren’t going to agree to an unattractive prospect. That just isn’t agreeable.
If you focus your approach on finding the one, any improvement in your chances of securing the agreement you need will be marginal at best. But focusing your approach on becoming the one exponentially increases your probability of success because, when you work to become the one, you’re making yourself more agreeable
Take the next steps
That fundamentals-based approach begs this question: What must we do to make ourselves more agreeable? The answer will of course vary with the individual. We’re all so different in the totality of the dating prospect we represent that what we’re each missing to become more agreeable will also vary greatly.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t answers. Previously I’ve explored applications to the lives of LDS singles from Elder Larry Lawrence’s October 2015 Conference address on securing revelation through the Spirit. The Spirit can and will give us the next steps we need to improve ourselves and our lives. When we faithfully follow the instructions we receive, we are blessed with a better life and more instructions for making that better life even better.
Often those steps will be small. Elder Lawrence describes a single adult who asked after her next step and received the prompting to clean her room. That is a small step, but it also can bring about great results. Clearing the clutter in our local landscape can clear the clutter from our perspectives, helping us to feel less burdened and more capable of focusing on the work we need to accomplish. Whatever small step the Spirit prompts you to take, do it.
Secure the power of small
The success LDS singles desire in their dating efforts won’t likely come overnight. However, persisting every day in the small habits of making ourselves more agreeable dating prospects will over time transform us into more capable travelers in our dating journey. Small things give rise to great things.
This is the way the Lord works. “And out of small things proceedeth that which is great” (D&C 64:33). When we take the small steps that will help us become the one someone else wants, we become more agreeable to potential dating partners. And that means increased probability of securing that agreement we need to progress to the next stage in our dating journey.
Yes, finding the one is important. You can’t have the companion you want if the two of you never meet. But simply crossing paths with someone isn’t going to influence that person to make the agreement you need to progress to the next stage of your dating journey. Being a more attractive person will. And you’re likely to cross paths with many prospective companions as you get active in becoming the best version of you that you can be.
So don’t focus on finding the one. Rather focus on being the one. Your progress in becoming your best self will by itself invigorate you. At the same time, you’ll be making yourself more attractive. Giving your all to those right things for you will bring you happiness. And that will bring you more joy in your journey
Last week we discussed how to find your useful passions and get busy making other people’s lives better. Until you do, you’ll never see the results you want to see from adopting a personal ministry.
But that’s true in every arena of life. If you want results, you must take action. And isn’t that what we all really want? No matter where we are in life or what we’ve been through, at the end of the day we all want results.
How do we get results? Results come from one and only one thing: action. Too many of us are sitting on the sidelines waiting for God to act so we can receive results when in actuality God is waiting for us to act by using the agency and the talents He gave us to deliver our results to ourselves.
We must act. When we know what we want out of life, we need to get down on it and get busy going after it. Only then will we have our best life.
Most people do nothing to effect the change they want. When life throws them a curve — and life will always throw you a curve — most people complain. They complain about how unfair it is, how disadvantaged they are, or how luck doesn’t favor them. And the only thing they do in addition to complain is complain some more!
But where does that leave them? It leaves them at the station because they never got on the train; they never took action. And therefore, they didn’t get results. Results don’t come without action. So if you don’t take any action, you don’t get any results.
In addition, your focus determines your reality. That’s why people who constantly complain can never rid their lives of the misery and depression that prompts them to complain about how miserable and depressed they are. When you focus on the negative, your reality will be filled with negativity. The way to change your reality is to change your focus. To have a positive reality, take action to focus on the positive.
Change it up
Now, I can hear some of you saying, “Yeah, well, I took action and I didn’t get results.” Maybe you asked someone out and got rejected. Maybe you applied for a job you didn’t get. Maybe you tried to stick to a weight-loss diet and couldn’t resist eating that pizza. Whatever it was, you saw what you wanted, you took action to get it, and you fell flat on your face.
It’s true that if you don’t take action, you don’t get results. But perhaps it would be better to say if you don’t take any different action, you don’t get any different results. Your results are always consistent with the action you take. So when you want different results, you need to change it up and take different actions, ones consistent with the results you want.
Is your life the same as it was two years ago? If so, it’s because last year you didn’t do anything different than you did the year before. And next year will be just like last year unless you start doing something different. The next two, five, or even ten years of your life will be just like the last two, five, or ten years unless you start doing something different.
Look for the little things
And this is where most people get stuck. They know they need to do something different. They just don’t know what that something is.
Enter partnering with the Lord stage left. When you partner with the Lord, He’ll show you what you need to change. “And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things” (Moroni 10:5) — including the truth of the changes you need to make to move towards your best life.
In that effort, it’s best to look for the little things you need to change — the small habits you can practice every day that will move you in your desired direction. After all, the big wins we want in life are just collections of the little wins accumulated consistently over time.
When you know what little habits you need to adopt every day, get down on it and stick with it. Don’t wait for your blessings to appear magically. Know the results you want, determine the actions you need to take to get those results, and then get down on it. When you start to move in the direction of your goals and dreams, feeling that progress will invigorate you to do and be more. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Most people settle for mediocre lives. They become comfortable inside a status quo. That’s human nature — establish a habit and then stay inside that “safe zone.”
Yet that safety lies well beneath the potential we all have to accomplish extraordinary achievements. Greatness abounds in all of us because we’re all children of the greatest measure of greatness in the universe — our Heavenly Father.
Nevertheless, so many of us live every day beneath our potential it’s insane. Instead of contributing goodness to others, we wander within ourselves. Instead of spending time in service to others, we spend time in service to ourselves voraciously consuming content via the Internet, video games, movies, and other forms of entertainment. Instead of taking control of our lives, we simply react as the waves of life toss us to and fro.
Too many of us are just standing on the sidelines of life waiting for extraordinary blessings. That’s not the way life works. To have your best life, you must skip the sidelines and get in the game of making other people’s lives better.
Find your useful passions
We all have talents we can leverage to improve others’ lives, and very often using these talents elicits passion within us — a passion for excellence, a passion to contribute, a passion to serve, and a passion to be the best we can be.
That passion becomes useful when it drives you to use your talents to fulfill a personal ministry bringing goodness to others. Your useful passions can carry you beyond your troubles into a life of joy if you let them. By adopting a personal ministry, you can transcend the challenges of LDS singles life and live your best life.
How do you find your useful passions? Start by separating yourself from daily distractions to gain clarity of vision. The temple is great here, but you should also have somewhere in your home where you can reflect without distraction. Then look inside yourself and ask what you do the best with the least amount of effort. Those are your talents.
How can you use those talents to bring goodness into the lives of others? Which of those ways would you do even if it brought you no personal gain or benefit? Those are your useful passions. They will fuel you to carry out your personal ministry despite the obstacles in your way. And when life overwhelms, postponing your efforts, your useful passions will always bring you back to sit at the table of contribution.
Turn it on
Surely the Lord wants you to make your contribution — one only you can make. Only by following His example of making that unique contribution will you live your best life. When you partner with Him, the Lord will help you discover your useful passions. And once you know what you need to do, get busy. Don’t let others wait for the blessings they’ll receive because of your contribution of goodness.
Throughout his career, my father has supervised others. Often when inquiring after an undone task, he’s heard,“I haven’t got around to it yet.” In response, my father would obtain small wooden discs and write the letters T-O-I-T on them. Then whenever someone would tell him, “I haven’t got around to it yet,” my father would give that person one of his special wooden discs and say, “There’s your round ‘to-it.’ Now get to work!”
Once you’ve identified your personal ministry, turn it on and get to work. “We all have work,” the hymn teaches. “Let no one shirk. Put your shoulder to the wheel” (Hymns, #252). When you allow your useful passions to drive your personal ministry, you can more easily find your life by losing it (see Matthew 10:39).
Stay in the game
Of course, life has a way of distracting or sometimes outright knocking us off course, thereby obstructing our personal ministry and restricting our contribution. When that happens, we’ve got to get back in the game.
Life will always present challenges. That’s by design; it’s partly why we’re here. But if you know who you are, if you’ve identified your useful passions, and if you have a personal ministry, then keep on keeping on that road of service. Your contribution may not change the world, but it will mean the world to those whose lives you change for the better.
Don’t just sit on the sidelines of life waiting for your best life to come to you. Make your best life happen! Skip the sidelines and find your useful passions that can fuel your own personal ministry. When you lose yourself in that effort, you’ll find your best life, because you’ll become the best version of you that you can be. 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 now I produce 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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