Recently I was shopping for my little nephews and noticed a few things. Like how all the really cool toys are out now that I’m grown up. And how expensive some of the toys I’d like to get for my nephews are. And how some of the peeps in the store weren’t all that happy.
I get it. If you’re a parent at the end of a busy day that hasn’t yet settled down and you’ve got fussy infants tagging along with you, you’re probably not going to be in a great mood. And the attitude of parent or child influences the other.
I thought about how many years I spent acting like the fussy kid because I was single and therefore not fully accepted by my LDS subculture. All that fussing didn’t make me attractive to a potential companion. It certainly didn’t make me happy. And the holidays were the worst because people with their families and their happiness kept telling me I should be happy too even though I didn’t have my own family.
But the thing is . . . they were right.
You gotta own it
We singles can get caught in false patterns of thought — habits that keep us from living our best lives. But it’s not because we’re single. It’s because we’re human.
One of those faulty habits is thinking we need to have something to be happy. But as I’ve posted previously, happiness isn’t about what you do or are. It’s not even about keeping the standards, although that’s certainly part of it. Happiness is about giving your all to the right things. And you just won’t do that until you own your life.
You don’t get to be single past your early 20s in this Church without going through some sort of hell. Whether it’s discouragement from the opposite gender never accepting you, or disillusionment from a marriage that soured, or despair from experiencing the loss of a loved one, being single can bite — hard.
Our natural tendency is to disown the pain and with it the circumstances that brought us that pain. So we blame everyone else for how our lives have resulted. But that road only perpetuates the pain. To resolve that pain and turn our lives around, we have to turn ourselves around. We have to own our lives.
Turn your life around
Owning your life means accepting responsibility for how your life has resulted. Sure, other people used their agency against you. But you made choices, too. Owning your life means embracing the role your choices have played in bringing you the life you have today.
And only by owning your life can you be happy despite your circumstances.
I know the deep seated desire to have your circumstances change, especially if they’ve been less than desirable for a long time. I’ve been single for over 20 years, so believe me when I say I know. I’m very familiar with negative emotional companions that just don’t want to leave.
For many of those years I refused to own my life. I kept blaming other people for my singleness and telling myself the lie that I could never be what I needed to be to have a better life. Any story told long enough becomes believed, and I spent years as my own worst obstacle blaming everyone but myself for my undesirable life.
Only when I accepted my part in creating the life I had did my life begin to turn around. And the best part is that I didn’t need to have anything more than a new way of thinking to get my life on a better track. I just needed to own my life.
Give, said the little stream
It’s very possible to be happy despite having less-than-desirable life circumstances. That’s because true happiness is about what you give, not what you have. Owning your life allows you to give more of yourself, opening the way to more happiness.
Christmas is a season of cheer. It’s also a season of giving. That’s not a coincidence. There’s a strong connection between giving of yourself and being happy.
When you own your life, you start seeing more clearly your role in creating the life you have. That empowers you to let go of trying to change others and to start changing yourself. In that process you begin to realize true happiness really is all about giving yourself to the right things. And that’s a choice you can make consciously time and time again.
The Christmas season can be as happy as you want it to be. Make this Christmas one of happiness, regardless of the circumstances of your life. Make the conscious choice to give your all to the right things. Get your merry on!
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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