Finding Joy in the Journey Now
How Does the Past Bring Us Joy?
Don’t Let One Day of Regret Fill Our Past
When I was in Young Men’s, I would attend long-term scout campouts where I would hike, mountain climb, serve up some of the best meals, play Frisbee golf, and sing songs around the campfires where, occasionally, I coughed up the smoke I accidentally inhaled. These times are some of my fondest memories, nevertheless, the ones that had the greatest impact on me were the devotionals we would hold. I remember dramatically strengthening my testimony by hearing my leaders and young friends share their testimonies and by sharing mine as well. This was a spiritually strengthening time of my life. At one of these devotionals, one of my leaders bore his testimony and it is something I will never forget. He stood up and told us that when he was a young man, his mom was very ill in the hospital and was expected to die. Several times, he had the feeling that he needed to tell his mother that he loved her but because of his pride as a young man, he kept delaying it. Finally, the time was too late, his mother had passed away, and he was filled with remorse.
This rude awakening helped me realize that I can’t let a moment pass when I feel inclined to do or say something. A quote taken from Harriet Beecher Stowe helps me better understand the importance of acting today, “The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.” So in essence, quoting from President Monson, “often we assume people know how much we love them. Stop assuming, let them know.” We need to pounce on opportunities we have now, otherwise they will be gone.
The more we fill our past with regret, the less joy we will see in our past. Despite the regret we may feel today, we need to hearken unto the counsel given to Corianton by his father Alma to “not dwell upon your crimes, to harrow up your soul, if it were not for your good.” This leads to my next point that we need to…
LEARN from but not LIVE in the past
Often, I find myself thinking back to my past and reflecting on how great those times were. In many cases, I ponder to myself, “Oh, what would I give so that I could live in those times again?” (i.e. Young Men’s, mission, dating, recently married, etc.) Sometimes, especially in stressful moments, I question why I am not as happy as times of the past. After much contemplation, I begin to realize that the times had their stressful moments as well, but the good memories are the first to come to mind. The challenges from my past, although very different than today, were still existent; however, just like the ones of today, they still forced me to adapt, improve, grow, and stretch myself.
Despite the many hardships I may have faced in the past, I tend to think back on the best moments at a given time in my past. When overwhelmed, I reflect on how things were in the past and how this time is but another one of those moments being added to my history; in a few months or years, I will look back and think of how great this time was. As President Thomas S. Monson says, “when we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that’s present—love, health, family, friends, work, the joys of nature, and personal pursuits that bring us [happiness]—the wasteland of illusion falls away and we experience heaven on earth.” So how do we change this focus?
How Do We Obtain Joy Today?
“Nothing is as constant as change.” Many times we have welcome changes, but sometimes these changes are unwelcome. Since change is happening everywhere around us, we must act today to have joy, otherwise, we will miss our time to act. My wife was reading a Feeling Good, the New Mood Therapy by David Burns the other day and she quoted something that has stuck with me since, “What comes first—-motivation or action? If you said motivation, it was a logical choice. However you’re wrong. Action does!! You have to prime the pump. THEN the motivation follows. Individuals who procrastinate frequently confuse motivation and action. Since you don’t ‘feel like’ doing it, you put it off. Well, who said we’re supposed to feel like it? If we wait until we’re ‘in the mood’, we may wait forever!!” I add to this statement by quoting President Monson, “there is no tomorrow to remember if we don’t do something today.”
Oftentimes, we may get down on ourselves and may not feel like doing anything, but this is the mentality that Satan wants us to have because if he can keep us down, we will stay down and won’t progress. In addition, we won’t be able to help build the kingdom of God. The Prophet Joseph Smith through revelation counseled men who were seeking understanding and desiring further detail about their immediate duties to “neither be idle but labor with your might” and through labor we may find joy. While seeking joy we need to…
Beware of False “Joy”
In our current world, communication is easier with the internet, video games are more accessible than ever, TV shows bring information in our homes more rapidly, etc; therefore, if we let our guard down, we may pursue pleasure which replaces our search for joy. Unlike joy, pleasure is temporary.
Time is a very valuable asset in life and often many of us underestimate the value of it, otherwise, we would do things differently every day. “Time never stands still; it must steadily march on, and with the marching come the changes.” We can never recover lost time and pursuing things that don’t edify us for prolonged periods of time will destroy us. This is one of Satan’s snares to drag us down his path which leads to misery.
A prisoner of war in North Vietnam understood what truly brings joy to us in this world. After two years of being unable to communicate with his family, he was granted the opportunity to write one letter home but had to limit it to 25 words or less; this is what he wrote, “These things are important: temple marriage, mission, college. Press on, set goals, write history, take pictures twice a year.” What would you write if you had 25 words? What things bring you joy today? We can’t be as efficient today if we are not prepared for tomorrow. So…
How Does Preparation for the Future Bring Us Joy?
Prepare, Don’t Daydream
“If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear.” Fear counteracts joy. Sometimes in class at school, I sit and daydream about other activities apart from my class and when test day comes, I am not as prepared as I could be if I were paying attention. In life, we can’t just dwell in the future, but rather we need to do something today. Dwelling in the future will make us fear what we need to get done today. In order to prepare better we need to…
One good thing to help us prepare for tomorrow is to set goals today, without goals we may do what is quoted from the Music Man, “You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you’ve collected a lot of empty yesterdays.” Let us set goals so that we can find joy and use our time to the best we can.
To wrap up, by learning from the past, living in the present, and preparing for the future we can find joy. Let us live every day to our fullest potential. Let us say words left unsaid, do things left undone, and be things we should be.