What are you doing today that brings you joy?
Can you live in the moment, being grateful for the here and now? In Nephi 2:27 we read, “Adam fell that man night be, and men are, that they might have joy.” And darn it, this also alludes to opposition in all things. So, in order to recognize the joy, we have to have bad days – messy diapers and snotty noses, stiff muscles from gardening and working out, cranky kids and co-workers, flat tires and flat hair, lost shoes and lost loves. But – real life most often happens during the in-between times – when we are not at Disneyland, but on our way to. Discouragement is unnecessary pain and a denial of divine power. It hinders spiritual growth, so while we may have a discouraging moment, it does not need to affect our entire road trip. M. Scott Peck, begins his book, “The Road Less Traveled,” with, “Life is Difficult.” And once that is accepted, then the fact no longer matters, and we can move forward. Or – as my grandmother often said, “Stop fretting and move forward, enjoy the journey.”
Live, not exist, the journey – not the destination. How we choose to celebrate or embrace them is up to us. Simply acknowledging a night’s sleep, a clean toilet, a kind word, an extra lap around the track, are ways to note that good exists in our lives – a beautiful sunrise, fresh snow on the mountain, a good book, scriptures read, are reasons to celebrate. If we take the time to slow down, allow ourselves time to look around, allow our hearts and minds to take in the wonders of the every day – we can then have joy in our journey. Far too often we let these simple moments pass us by. Don’t! A quote, attributed to George Clooney, is this, “Stop creating moments. Live the moments.” In the day of instant and social media, are we putting down the camera/phone and sinking our teeth into the here and now, rather than freezing and posting, for tomorrow? And what is the cost of doing this?
Day by day, minute by minute, second by second we move from where we were to where we are now. The lives of all of us, of course, go through alterations and changes. The difference between the changes in my life and the changes in yours is only in the details. Time never stands still; it must steadily march on, and with the marching comes the changes. I’m sure many of you have heard the phrase, “Nothing is as constant as change.” But why buck the change? Accept it as part of your journey.
Throughout our lives we must deal with change. Some changes are welcome, others not so much. There are sudden changes – job, loss, illness. But most of our changes take place subtly and slowly. And so some days are just ho-hum days – but celebrate these days – they are a part of what makes our days treasured. Life will never be totally pain-free. But it can be a lot less painful if we accept what is.
Have you ever looked back – and seen that the bad things that happened in your life put you directly on the path to the best things that will ever happen to you?” *I know I certainly have – from a lost business, to a lost marriage, to cancer. But I refuse to see this as lost time, lost years.
I remember telling a friend, “I want to live cancer to the ultimate, I want to make sure that I learn everything there is to learn, while I’m in this state.” And my friend told me, “Ronda, you’ll be learning from this experience for years to come.” Well, nearly three years past treatment, I am still learning, and good continues to come from the journey, the trial. The journey still continues as I help those who are going through terrible difficult illnesses.
Too many of us spend our time worrying over past regrets or grievances, or dreaming or worrying about the future. We need to ask ourselves, “If I am living in the past or future, who is living my life right now?” Pres. Monson said, “Learn from the past, prepare for the future, live for today.”
Author Jack Kerouac said, “Be in love with your life, every minute of it.” Don’t be so busy existing that living is not an option. Pres. Thomas S. Monson, in his 2008 talk, “Joy in the Journey,” said, “I believe that among the greatest lessons we are to learn in this short sojourn upon the earth are lessons that help us distinguish between what is important and what is not. I plead with you not to let those most important things pass you by as you plan for that illusive and nonexistent future when you will have time to do all that you want to do. Instead, find joy in the journey – now. Find happiness in the middle as well as the beginnings and endings.
One thing I’ve learned is this, I must stay patient and trust my journey.
I beg you to not spend your life looking forward, “what if’ing” life’s scenarios. I also ask that you not spend your time looking back, “if only’ing” your life. Author Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote, “The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.” This comes from not living in the moment, not enjoying the journey. Do we ever realize life while we are living it – moments that should be cherished?
We can certainly learn huge lessons from children. And I have learned from my husband, when I ask him, “What are you doing tomorrow,” and he replies, “It’s not tomorrow yet.”
Author Sarah Ban Breathnach wrote, “Both abundance and lack of abundance exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend . . . 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, nature, personal pursuits – the wasteland of illusion falls away and we experience heaven on earth.”
Roman philosopher Horace, admonished, “Whatever hour God has blessed you with take it with grateful hand, nor postpone your joys from year to year, so that in whatever place you have been, you may say that you have lived happily.”
Changes will come – the road will have bumps, quick turns, stop signs, become rocky, dirty, and icy. Yet, we can fill our days (most days, I’m not saying every day), with the things that matter the most.
Song of a People
We watch the past create the now –
And wish to plant before we plow –
We hear goodbye in each hello –
And wish to stay when we must go –
We try to catch the closing door –
And seek for peace in time of war –
As day makes night a fugitive –
The living dream.
The dreaming live. (Merle Good 1969)
It is interesting for me to look back on the various chapters of my life – and I wonder if I had trusted the journey, trusted myself, would I have the clarity, that I have now, to see the reason behind my trials and my triumphs, to see the pieces that needed to come together, so I could go where I needed to go. Author Max Lucado said, we should “stop on our life’s journey to look for the joy instead of dwelling on the negatives, joy that is possible because we are loved by God.” The more we look for joy, the more joy we will find. We will quit existing, wishing time away, and live.
My sincere hope is that we may adapt to the changes in our lives, that we may realize what is important, that we may express our gratitude always, and in doing so, find joy in the journey. Live my friends, dream and live.