What impressed me the most in that meeting was a Japanese sister. As she rambled on in her broken English from one topic to the next, I struggled to make sense of what she was trying to say. But then she spoke two words that captured my attention: Expect miracles.
Nourish your thinking
I have no idea why she said those two words. Perhaps she was referencing President Nelson’s address from the last Conference on spiritual momentum. Perhaps she was talking about something else related to miracles. Or perhaps she was talking about something completely unrelated and the Spirit prompted her to say those words because I needed to hear them.
I say I needed to hear them because they captured my attention. And as I began pondering those words and remembering what I said about them in a recent episode of this program, I immediately felt prompted to make them the focus for this episode of Joy in the Journey Radio. So perhaps there is someone out there who needs this message.
Regardless of the need, I do believe this message is important for all LDS singles to review on a regular basis. We need to nourish our thinking with better assumptions, better perspectives, better attitudes, and better self-talk. The idea of expecting miracles encompasses all four of those elements.
Reformat and reboot
For example, too many LDS singles assume the future will be just like the past. They place so much emphasis on the choices others make, they do not perceive the power inherent in their own choices. A discouraging outlook encourages a despondent attitude.
And all of these elements then find reinforcement in self-talk: “What’s the point of trying?” “Why would anyone choose me?” “I’m not good enough.” “I’ll never be loved.” All these messages played on autopilot via habits of thinking reinforce the faulty assumptions, the diminished perspectives, and the failing attitudes that will never lead to success.
Expecting miracles reverses all that. Expecting miracles in your life assumes miracles can and will come to you. Expecting miracles exchanges the perspectives focused on the past for ones focused not just on the future but on a future that’s very different from the past. Expecting miracles encourages an optimistic positive attitude. And expecting miracles encourages uplifting self talk: “I’ll keep trying because I will succeed.” “My miracle will choose me.” “I’m more than good enough for my miracle.” “My miracle will happen because I’m already loved.”
There’s a night-and-day difference between expecting miracles and the less effective ways of thinking many LDS singles choose to tolerate. Many so choose because they simply aren’t aware of the difference. But having that awareness, why would you choose not to expect a miracle? Why would you cheat yourself of the glorious best life you could have?
Position yourself better
Of course, miracles are more likely to come and are therefore easier to expect when you get your game on. Put yourself in a good financial position. Serve faithfully in your Church calling. Take care of your responsibilities, including those involving self-care. These changes likely won’t come overnight, but every effort to move in that direction moves you closer into a space where miracles can more easily come.
My friend provides a good example. His real interest in attending that Sunday School class was a special “person of interest” (as he calls her). During the drive back, he told me they’d met only one month ago. I was surprised to hear that. Given the way they hugged each other in the parking lot before leaving, I thought they’d known each other longer. But apparently they just hit it off really well. I’d call that a miracle.
So expect miracles in your life. Believing in and opening yourself up to possibility can improve your probability of success. By working as you can on improving yourself and your situation, you can move yourself into the space where your miracle can more easily come. That miracle can be the door that swings your best life wide open to you. And that will bring your more joy in your journey.
Attend to the fundamentals
Understanding the two parts of making a dating connection is fundamental. The first part involves being agreeable enough. The second involves crossing paths with someone who’s agreeable enough to you and who thinks you’re agreeable enough.
This is where many LDS singles put the cart before the horse. They completely skip over making any changes in themselves to become more agreeable, focusing instead on finding the right singles ward or attending the right activity or joining the right online dating site. They jump ahead to the point of crossing paths with the right person.
Here’s the problem with that approach. Even if you do cross paths with the right person, that person won’t connect with you if you’re not agreeable enough. The fundamentals of the dating journey always operate regardless of whether we attend to them or not. You won’t progress to any stage of the dating journey without the agreement you need to be in that stage, and you don’t make agreements if you’re not agreeable enough. Cross paths with the perfect companion and it won’t make any difference to your dating journey because you won’t secure the agreement you need to progress without being agreeable enough.
How the brain works
Accepting the truth that most of us aren’t agreeable enough as we are now is a hard pill to swallow. We want to think we don’t need to change to be good enough, and it’s because we’re biologically hardwired to think that way.
The brain is designed to maintain a status quo, and it does this by establishing habits. That’s why 95% of what we do everyday is out of habit; habits help to maintain a status quo. The brain will dream of a “better” future; dreaming of a “better” future doesn’t affect the status quo. But when it comes to taking action towards that dream, our biological hardwiring kicks in. Taking action means change, and change threatens the status quo. And so our brain, designed to maintain a status quo, fights the change.
It usually starts with “Yeah, but ...” self talk. You feel the dream, and then your brain replies, “Yeah, but that’s too hard.” “Yeah, but you can’t do that.” “Yeah, but it’ll never work.” “Yeah, but you’ll get hurt.” “Yeah, but ...” on and on and on.
Put first things first
And so it’s easy to believe someone should just love us for who we are with no change required on our part. That belief maintains our status quo, encouraging us to skip ahead to how we’re going to meet that special someone. We focus on that second part of making a dating connection without considering the first part. We put the cart before the horse.
How much progress do you think you’ll make with that? The horse can’t pull from behind and doesn’t push very well. Putting the horse ahead of the cart promotes better progress. Likewise, you’ll make better progress in dating when you attend to making yourself more agreeable before focusing on finding ways to cross paths with that special someone.
As I said earlier, the fundamentals of the dating journey operate whether or not we attend to them. They even operate whether or not we know about them. Dating is not only hard but confusing when you don’t know the fundamentals. The different parts tend to work better when you place them in the proper order.
So don’t put the cart before the horse. If you aren’t agreeable enough as you are now, then you need to spend less time looking for ways to cross paths with a potential partner and more time improving yourself to become more agreeable to a potential partner. Master the fundamentals of what you’re trying to do, and you’ll find more success in your efforts. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
That’s why it didn’t take me long to identify “Eyes to See” by Michelle D. Craig as the Conference address to use for the program today. In her remarks, Sister Craig spoke of the need we all have both to see others deeply and to be seen deeply by others. And that’s possible for you when you acquire eyes to see.
Stop doing what you shouldn’t
I’ve long spoken about self-talk. We all give messages to ourselves every day out of habit. For most of us, at least 80% of those messages are negative. A constant barrage of negative messaging can hold anyone back from fully living the joy to be had in life.
The cure for that, of course, is embracing habits of positive self-talk. But you’ll find that next to impossible without first deeply seeing yourself the way God sees you. If you see yourself in any lesser light, it’ll be harder to accept your divine nature and heritage as a child of God. And you’ll feel awkward acting on what you don’t really believe.
That’s why I love how Sister Craig began her remarks with the story of Elisha’s servant seeing a threatening army surround him and his master. But the servant set aside his fears when the Lord opened his eyes to see the truth of his master’s words: “They that be with us are more than they that be with them.” Sister Craig then declared,
If what you’re doing keeps you from living the joy surrounding you every single day, then the obvious first step to experiencing that joy is to remove the obstacle. Get out of your own way. Stop doing what you shouldn’t, and stop thinking in ways that lead you to do what you shouldn’t.
Start doing what you should
Of course, you can’t just stop the bad you think and do. We’re all biologically hardwired to operate out of habit. Our self-talk and most other thoughts and actions we play out of habit. Our habits feed us the instructions we follow to navigate everyday life.
But habits don’t change just because you stop executing bad instructions. Again, you’re biologically hardwired to have a habit, so when you encounter the trigger connected with that habit you stopped, your brain looks for a habit. Not finding one, it kicks in the default response, which is always to go back to the last habit you had.
That’s why you don’t just quit bad habits. You must replace them with better ones. So once you stop doing what you shouldn’t, start doing what you should. And you can begin by partnering with the Lord and allowing Him to show the way.
Sister Craig shared some beautiful stories of how people were blessed and uplifted when others stopped their normal routines, looked around them, and acted on promptings to go and do. She declared,
See the beauty all around you
When you replace less effective habits of thinking and doing with more effective ones, you position yourself to see and to receive the deep joy that really does surround you every single day. That joy comes when you give your all to your true identity and purpose. But you can’t do that if you don’t first see your true identity and purpose.
So start today to develop eyes to see. Stop thinking and doing what prevents you from seeing yourself and others as the children of God we all are. Start thinking and doing what opens your view to the marvelous truths of the restored gospel and the reality of the Savior’s marvelous Atonement.
With a clearer vision of your true reality, you can press forward with joy amidst any challenge. You can feel better about yourself because you’ll see yourself in the splendid potential for glory bequeathed to every child of God. You can feel better about life because you’ll see the beauty that really is all around you. You’ll see more clearly the Lord’s hand working in your life and the lives of others. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Not paying attention to the news for the last couple of years has made a huge difference in my life. For years I wanted to keep apprised of current events and so read regularly from various sources. But the overwhelming negative slant so many stories took painted a picture of an increasingly depressing world. And it didn’t take long for that depression to weigh me down.
The first step towards correcting an overflowing bathtub is to turn off the water. And that’s what I did with the media. Yet I still wanted to know what was going on in the world. How else could I be a responsible citizen? Thus began the yo-yo days of switching between feasts and famine of media news in my life.
But the yo-yo approach wasn’t sustainable. In the end, I chose to eliminate most media news from my life, largely because of its overwhelming negativity. I couldn’t see how I could live a positive life when I regularly drank from the fountains of negativity, so I said enough with the negative in my life. And as I said before, it’s made a huge difference.
Improve your thinking
One of the first things I noticed after I eliminated that negative source from my life was an improvement in my thinking. It’s hard to believe your world will be heavenly when every day you’re hearing about how the world around you is going to hell in a handbasket.
Once I eliminated the negativity, it became easier to believe in the possibilities of my future. I found it easier to believe in myself and my ability to achieve my potential, that I could make the needed changes to allow the blessings the Lord wants to give me — blessings I want in my life — to come to me.
Understanding that doesn’t take an Einstein. I’ve been saying for years that your focus determines your reality. When you regularly entertain sources of negativity, it’s hard for your focus to be anything but negative. And when you focus on the negative, your reality (otherwise known as your life) becomes filled with negativity.
Of course, the reverse is also true. When you eliminate the negative from your life, it’s easier to focus on the positive. And when you focus on the positive, your reality becomes filled with positivity.
Improve your self-talk
The changes I experienced in my thinking then bled into my self-talk. The messages I constantly gave myself became more positive. It didn’t happen overnight, but slowly the negative became positive.
I’ve discussed self-talk many times before on the blog as well as this program. It’s hard to believe in possibilities when you constantly tell yourself they don’t exist — or worse, that it doesn’t matter whether or not they exist because you’re just not worthy or good enough to have them. If you repeat a lie long enough, you’ll start to believe it.
But you’ll also believe the truth when you repeat your encounters with it long enough. Again, your focus becomes your reality. The more you focus on the positive, the easier giving yourself positive messages becomes. And the more you give yourself positive messages, the easier it is to focus on the positive. This self-perpetuating cycle provides a strong foundation for a positive reality so long you keep it going.
Improve your feeling
In an upcoming book I’ve been writing, I cite this statistic: Around 95% of how we feel comes from our self-talk. That’s an amazing statistic because it means we choose how we feel.
That idea may sound like pig swallow to some, but consider this for a moment. Most of what you feel comes from the messages you give yourself, messages you choose to give yourself. You choose your focus. You choose how to think and what to think. You choose all these factors feeding into how you ultimately feel. That means you can and do choose how you feel.
It then follows that when you choose positivity, you’ll feel positivity. Thinking positive lays the groundwork for positive self-talk, which then colors your emotional state with positive energy. All this focus on the positive can’t help but produce a positive reality. And here’s the best part: It all happens with zero change in your circumstances.
When you look within yourself and say you’ve had enough with the negative, you can begin to make lasting positive changes in your life. You can remove from your life the sources of negative energy that make it harder for you to have a positive reality. When you do, you’ll start to see improvements in your thinking, your self-talk, and your emotions. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Sometimes your dreams can seem so far away as to be unreachable. So much remains to be done, and so much of that lies outside your control, that you wonder how you’ll ever arrive. How could the blessings you desire ever be yours?
Very often there’s a real difference between how things feel and how things really are. Sure, nothing worth having comes easy. But sometimes the obstacles before you can seem bigger than they really are. Only by stepping out of your comfort zone and rising to your challenges do you see how big they really are.
And that's when you find what you thought was insurmountable really is doable. You just have to get started and take it one step at a time. By consistently doing the small things that move you further in your journey, you can conquer any challenge set before you. You can go the distance.
What drives those who achieve phenomenal results in life, those who make their dreams reality? It’s vision. Vision is different than sight. Sight depends on what you see with your physical eyes. But vision depends on what you see with your spiritual eyes — the eye of faith.
You begin by seeing yourself in a different way. As we’ve frequently discussed, that requires you to think in new and different ways. If you surround yourself with negativity, if your self talk is consistently negative, you'll find it hard to believe in possibility. You'll find it hard to believe that your life could be any different than how it has been. Only when your self talk is consistently positive and you surround yourself with positive energy will you be thinking in ways that allow you to see a brighter tomorrow for yourself.
But just seeing yourself differently isn’t enough. You must believe that vision can become reality and that it can be yours — because the truth is that can! Such belief comes from faith — faith that you’re a child of God and that he loves you, faith that He wants you to succeed, faith that He’ll help you realize your dream and become everything you’re capable of becoming.
When you have a vision of what you can become, that vision can drive you to do incredible things. But you must make the conscious choice to do what is necessary every day to move yourself closer to the realization of your vision. You must adopt a habit of consistently doing what is necessary.
The so-called little things in life are really the big things. It's the small actions performed every day that move us closer, inch by inch, to the reality our vision shows us. Observed in one moment of time, those little actions may seem insignificant. But collectively over time, those small actions done every day can comprise a considerable sum.
That's why you need the determination to do what’s necessary every day. Never surrender. Results come from action and nothing else. When you fail to act, you don’t make the small contribution that over time adds up to a considerable sum. Only by denying the natural man or woman who wants you to coast, to be satisfied with a life beneath the reality your vision shows you can you overcome mediocrity and achieve your fullest potential and the phenomenal life you dream of having. You must be determined never to surrender.
But that determination can turn to frustration unless you begin to see the opportunities amid your obstacles. Every obstacle comes with at least one opportunity. Most people, however, never see that opportunity because they're too prone to look only at the obstacle.
As I’ve said many times, your focus determines your reality. If all you see is the obstacle in front of you, then your reality will be one of obstruction. But when you focus on seeking out the opportunity that comes with every obstacle, your reality will be one of opportunity. And as the Savior once taught, “Seek, and ye shall find” (Matthew 7:7).
Only by gaining the vision of what your life can be and then resolutely moving towards it, though you move only inches a day, will your dreams ever become reality. But that's what walking by faith is all about. It's not living life based on what you see with your physical eyes. It's living life based on what you see with your spiritual eyes.
When you walk by faith, taking each step with vision and determination to do what’s necessary and find the opportunity, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing your dreams will one day be your reality because you choose to go the distance. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Like most things in life, LDS dating has its own set of challenges. And like most challenges, our ability to come off conqueror depends upon our attitude and our approach.
Unfortunately, many LDS singles remain single because they have a completely wrong attitude and a completely wrong approach. Last week we discussed some of the ways in which LDS singles can improve their approach. Although not comprehensive, that discussion provides some ideas for starting the change towards securing better results.
Yet, as good as those ideas are, they won’t take you very far without the right attitude. That’s because your approach always takes root in your attitude. Even if you have a more effective approach, a bad attitude will water that garden with contaminated water that will destroy whatever blooms your approach encouraged.
Conversely, a good attitude will prosper that garden into providing a harvest of beautiful blossoms. And the best part is that you can choose the attitude you embrace. It all starts when you boot out the negative from your life.
Leave the past in the past
Have you ever seen ads for investments? They always have some fine print somewhere that essentially says past performance does not guarantee future earnings. Now, why is that? They’re trying to cover themselves. After all, the future’s not written. Anything could happen.
That’s just as true for our lives as it is for a financial portfolio. Yet too many of us don’t believe that. We believe that somehow the past determines our future. We think we’re deficient or “less than” because of something that happened to us. Or maybe it’s because of something that hasn’t happened to us. Our focus turns more towards the negative, and before long our reality is negative as well.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Our past will become our future only if we choose that. If we choose differently, then our lives will be different. It all starts when we leave the past in the past and believe a brighter tomorrow awaits us ahead.
Yes, whatever bad thing happened to you happened. OK, great. Now it’s time to move on. Do you want a different future? Move towards it!
Watch the self-talk
Moving towards a better future means gaining control over your self-talk. I’ve discussed self-talk so often in this forum because it’s absolutely essential to having joy all along your journey. Up to 95% of our emotions comes from self-talk.
Self-talk is essentially the messages we give ourselves. Most of it operates out of habit, so whether it’s positive or negative, you’ll drown yourself in whatever you’ve programmed your habit to play to you. And yes, you have programmed your self-talk habit.
That may sound discouraging, but it really isn’t. If you make conscious choices in how you program your self-talk habit, you can feed yourself positive messages that will uplift and inspire you. You can feed yourself hope, optimism, and light that will support you in moving towards a positive future that’s very different from whatever past you may have. All this is possible because you can choose what messages you give yourself.
Make the change
We choose not only the messages we give to ourselves but also the messages we give to others. Even some of the messages our world gives us we can choose. After all, we choose our environment. We choose our friends. We choose what media we allow in our lives.
With so much that you choose for yourself, your life is very much what you’ve decided it to be. When you accept responsibility for the results your choices have brought you and own your life, a whole new world of possibilities opens before you. You become free from the shackles of self-limiting beliefs and excuses. You can do anything because you have the power within you.
You can move forward to make whatever change you need to make. No longer held back by your past or held down by your self-talk, you can change your life when you change yourself and the way you think.
So boot out the negative! Get it out of your life and replaced with the positive. Immersing yourself in that energy will empower you to become everything your Heavenly Father wants you to become. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Howdy! I'm Lance, host of Joy in the Journey Radio. I've been blogging about LDS singles life since 2012, and since 2018 I've been producing a weekly Internet radio show and podcast to help LDS singles have more joy in their journey and bring all Latter-day Saints together. Let's engage a conversation that will increase the faith of LDS singles and bring singles and marrieds together in a true unity of the faith.
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