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Finding Joy in the Journey

Audio: "Finding Joy in the Journey"
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Good morning, brothers and sisters. It is great to be with you today.

You may be familiar with the scripture in 2 Nephi 2:25: “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” [1] We are meant to have joy in this life. Finding joy is part of the journey each of us is on. Today, I’ll share some experiences I had in finding joy and what each of us can do to find greater happiness.

I was able to work from home and be a stay-at-home mom for eight years, and then, because of financial circumstances, I needed to return to the workforce full-time. At that time, I had four young children and leaving them was very hard. When this happened, I was not very happy about it. I didn’t understand why I couldn’t stay home and raise my kids as I had always planned and desired to do. My perspective was limited. I was choosing to feel discouraged with my current reality and not embracing the joy of being able to provide for my family and use my skills in a different way.

The lack of joy in our lives often comes with a lack of perspective. If we have set expectations in life that are unmet, we will start to focus on our circumstances, influences, and forces outside ourselves. Can you think of a time when you weren’t experiencing joy? Maybe it’s right now. We are only a few weeks into a new semester, and you may be feeling overwhelmed with all the work you need to do to succeed in your courses. Plus, to get to class you must walk in unpleasant temperatures. I’m sure there are many things you could add to this list.

I found myself adding things to my list of reasons why I should be unhappy working. When I felt I was forced to go to work, it made things hard. Now, to be clear, I loved my job and still do. I enjoyed being at work, which added to my guilt. Was I supposed to enjoy working when I could be at home taking care of my children? This misuse of energy and focus can lead us to believe that only changing what is outside of us can bring us joy. Unfortunately, this unconscious thinking can create a perpetual hamster wheel of short-lived and temporary pleasures but rob us of real joy. Ultimately, it can and will negatively impact how we feel about ourselves. The way we see our lives can help our perspective.

President Nelson spoke about thinking celestial:

Here is the great news of God’s plan: the very things that will make your mortal life the best it can be are exactly the same things that will make your life throughout all eternity the best it can be! Today, to assist you to qualify for the rich blessings Heavenly Father has for you, I invite you to adopt the practice of “thinking celestial”! Thinking celestial means being spiritually minded. [2]

To create joy, we will want to think celestial in all that we do. President Nelson emphasized the significance of adopting a celestial mindset in our lives. It's about aligning our choices with eternal principles, acknowledging that our journey toward joy is a collective effort—a continuous process of growth and learning.

When we make decisions by thinking celestial, we realize that some things aren’t as important as our minds might have us think, and we put that into perspective. When I returned to the workforce, my mind wanted me to think that I couldn’t raise my children as I wanted to because I was working. What I learned is that I was absolutely able to teach my children about the gospel and share important moments with them. It just looked different from what I thought it would.

When we are talking about thinking celestial, it’s not about all or nothing. It is a quest to become more, to make decisions that are eternal, and to see that we are all on this journey together as we continue to become who we are meant to become. Often, we can get ourselves into an all-or-nothing mentality, which means if we can’t be perfect, then why try? This can be short-sighted as we don’t always see the big picture. But the Lord does. He knows what we need to be doing and learning to grow.

It took me many years and a lot of understanding to see the eternal perspective of my life circumstances. I learned that joining the workforce would help me to grow as an individual and put me in an environment that allows me to serve others. Now, working outside the home isn’t the path for everyone, but it happened to be the path for me. We are working towards becoming our best selves, and every step we make in the right direction is helping us move forward. The great news is that the Lord has a plan for each of His children. Trials are meant to help us learn, grow, and develop so that we can become more like our Heavenly Father. When we are on this path and can see from an eternal perspective, we can also experience the joy that the gospel brings. Often, when we are in the midst of the storm, it can be hard to see the hand of the Lord in our lives. As we come through the storm and look back, we understand the miracles that happened.

What should we do if we find ourselves, like I did, spinning in thought processes that aren’t helpful? We will want to see where we are and take the next step to move forward. How are you overwhelmed? What do you do when so many things are on your plate that you don’t know which one to focus on? How do you get out of it?

Sometimes, we may have an inner dialogue that convinces us that what we are doing is too hard and that we should just quit. One trick that has worked for me when I feel there is so much to accomplish, and I’m not sure how I can do it all. I stop and ask myself, “What is the next thing I can do to move this work forward?” Then, I do that thing and ask the question again. This often gets me out of the stuck mode of not knowing how to move forward and can propel me into a positive momentum that moves me forward in the right direction. It’s critical that we get into action.

In True to the Faith, faith is defined as “a principle of action and power. Whenever you work toward a worthy goal, you exercise faith. You show your hope for something that you cannot yet see.” [3] When we act, we are working in faith. Faith that the steps we are taking will help us move in the direction we want to go.

Do you ever find yourself in a repetitive, boring cycle that you continue to go through? Does this sound familiar? The alarm clock goes off, you hit the snooze button just enough times that you can still make it out the door by eliminating other tasks. You roll out of bed at the last possible minute and head to your class, work, or other obligations with little desire to be there, but you have to, should, or must show up. Where is your passion for life? The reason for doing these tasks? Does it seem like your day is controlling you versus you controlling your day?

What if you changed how you looked at life and started having passion for what you are doing? Things could look different if you understood why you would want to do the tasks at hand. Having to go to work because it’s an obligation could turn into a desire to go to work so you can serve others, grow in your knowledge, and associate with those you come in contact with, or provide for yourself and your family. Going to school could be an opportunity you are choosing so you can better your life, meet great people, and expand your knowledge that will help you in your future career. Can you feel the difference in the way we can look at our day?

When we get overwhelmed, we can get stuck. When we are stuck, it is easier to get distracted and not move forward. Social media, games, food, and other artificial stress relievers distract us from what we really want to accomplish. Don’t let these kinds of distractions override your eternal desire to accomplish the tasks that will create the greatest joy in your life. If you are struggling with these kinds of distractions, commit today to get help and take the steps to move into action.

Understanding why you would want to do each task can help you live with more passion for accomplishing the things you will want to, get to, or choose to do.

Another way to help us find joy is gratitude. Thinking about things we are grateful for can add perspective to our lives. Right now, I want you to take a moment to identify three things you are grateful for. I’ll give you some time to write them down. We’ll come back to those in a moment. President Henry B. Eyring suggests that one way we can remember what we are grateful for is to write in a journal:

I wrote down a few lines every day for years. I never missed a day no matter how tired I was or how early I would have to start the next day. Before I would write, I would ponder this question: “Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today?” As I kept at it, something began to happen. As I would cast my mind over the day, I would see evidence of what God had done for one of us that I had not recognized in the busy moments of the day. As that happened, and it happened often, I realized that trying to remember had allowed God to show me what He had done.

More than gratitude began to grow in my heart. Testimony grew. I became ever more certain that our Heavenly Father hears and answers prayers. I felt more gratitude for the softening and refining that come because of the Atonement of the Savior Jesus Christ. And I grew more confident that the Holy Ghost can bring all things to our remembrance—even things we did not notice or pay attention to when they happened. [4]

Gratitude, a powerful catalyst for joy, allows us to recognize God's kindness. Remembering and acknowledging these blessings cultivates gratitude and strengthens our testimonies. Taking time for gratitude can help our mortal eyes see from an eternal perspective. Look at the three things you wrote down. Do those three things help you to have an eternal perspective? Do they help you think beyond the current day or your current problems? How are the three things you are grateful for helping you see from an eternal perspective? We can see how heaven is influencing our lives and blessing us. Having gratitude reminds me that I’m not on this journey alone. The Lord is there to bless our lives and help us as we work for good to become more like the Savior and prepare ourselves to return to live with Him. I invite you to continue to write one thing you are grateful for each day this week. In a week, ponder on how it has helped you to see the hand of the Lord in your life.

I have many things to be grateful for. My family has significantly blessed my life and continues to help me to learn and grow throughout our journey together. Raising a family is busy. With all our crazy schedules, homework, activities, and other things, I have the potential to be overwhelmed. When I recognize myself getting overwhelmed, I stop and remember what I am grateful for. Gratitude demagnifies the problem and helps us to focus on what life is all about. We zoom out and are reminded about what really matters. Our actions are a product of thinking, and unless we change our habits and thoughts, we won’t change our actions.

I want to share an experience that adds perspective, gratitude, and a little laughter. When my husband and I had young kids, we had little money to care for our family. Because of this, we would only put five to ten dollars in our gas tank at a time. One day, while we had three young kids in the car, we ran out of gas, which happened to be the second time in two weeks that this had happened. We pulled over to the side of the road, and my husband, Bryant, and I looked at each other and started laughing. My oldest child, Colter, who was four at the time, looked at both of us and said, “What is happening?” We explained we ran out of gas. In the most sincere, concerned voice, he said, “I don’t think that’s very funny.” Which made Bryant and I laugh even more. In times like this, we can recognize that we can choose how we act in circumstances. This time, we chose to laugh.

One of my favorite quotes is from Marjorie Pay Hinckley, who stated, “The only way to get through life is to laugh your way through it. You either have to laugh or cry. I prefer to laugh. Crying gives me a headache.” [5] Among life's chaos, I've learned to appreciate moments of laughter, choosing to face challenges with humor. Laughter can be a testament to our resilience and ability to choose joy in the face of adversity.

We can only control ourselves and our thoughts and actions. As we practice choosing thoughts that will be helpful to us and propel us forward, we can use momentum to create the life we want. President Nelson spoke about spiritual momentum:

We have never needed positive spiritual momentum more than we do now, to counteract the speed with which evil and the darker signs of the times are intensifying. Positive spiritual momentum will keep us moving forward amid the fear and uncertainty created by pandemics, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and armed hostilities. Spiritual momentum can help us withstand the relentless, wicked attacks of the adversary and thwart his efforts to erode our personal spiritual foundation.

Many actions can ignite positive spiritual momentum. Obedience, love, humility, service, and gratitude are but a few. [6]

We want to find ways to move forward with positive momentum. This momentum can grow and continue to propel us forward in learning and becoming like our Savior. Today is all we have. We don’t have tomorrow, we don’t have yesterday, we have today.

The good news is that we can choose what we will do with our time. We get to choose how we act and what steps we will take to become who we are destined to become. This doesn't mean everything we do will go smoothly, but it does make it easier. We have a choice. We get to choose what we will do. Heavenly Father can and wants to help us, but we must be willing to try. It takes faith to propel ourselves forward to find the everlasting joy that the gospel has in store for us.

It is easy to be discouraged by the differences between expectations you have for your life and the current reality. Often, we might be tempted to hold reality hostage to these expectations and resent our current circumstances. When we are being our best selves, we love our lives and find personal satisfaction and peace of mind in all that we do. We choose the clay we have been given and strive to create the most we can with it. We are developing the habit of being joyful.

Life often presents us with unforeseen challenges, altering the course we envisioned for ourselves. In my journey, I encountered a significant shift from being a stay-at-home mom to reentering the workforce, grappling with the conflict between my expectations and reality. During these moments of uncertainty, I discovered a profound truth: the key to joy lies not in controlling external circumstances, but in shaping our internal perspectives by holding to gospel principles.

Sometimes, we may feel overwhelmed, caught in cycles that rob us of our passion for life. Yet, we can reignite that passion by infusing purpose into our daily tasks and shifting our perspectives. Whether finding joy in our work by seeing it as an opportunity to serve or embracing the blessings hidden within our trials, each moment becomes a chance to live with enthusiasm and purpose.

President Nelson's counsel on spiritual momentum is timely. In a world filled with uncertainty, nurturing positive spiritual momentum through obedience, love, humility, service, and gratitude becomes imperative. This momentum sustains us and fortifies our spirits against the adversary's relentless attacks. Embrace the celestial perspective, find purpose in your actions, cultivate gratitude, and choose joy in every moment.

May we remember that our journey is not solitary—we are guided and supported by a loving Heavenly Father. Let us press forward with faith, knowing that we will find joy through our efforts to become more like our Savior. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


[1] 2 Nephi 2:25.

[2] Russell M. Nelson, “Think Celestial,” Liahona, November 2023.

[3] “Faith,” True to The Faith: A Gospel Reference (Salt Lake City, Utah: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2004), 54.

[4] Henry B. Eyring, “O Remember, Remember,” Ensign or Liahona, November 2007.

[5] Marjorie Pay Hinckley and Virginia H. Pearce, Glimpses into the life and heart of Marjorie Pay Hinckley (Utah: Deseret Book Co., 1999).

[6] Russell M. Nelson, “The Power of Spiritual Momentum,” Liahona, May 2022.