Happiness Depends on What You Focus On

“The ultimate Latter-day Saint priorities are twofold: First, we seek to understand our relationship to God the Eternal Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. Second, we seek to understand our relationship to our family members and to secure those relationships by the ordinances of the temple and by keeping the covenants we make in that holy place.” Dallin H. Oaks


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There is no more repeated instruction in sports than to keep our eye on the ball! From t-ball to high school baseball I have heard it. From golf to tennis to soccer I have heard the same instruction from coaches. It seems like this instruction is so important and consistent because if we lose sight of the ball nothing else that we do after that seems to have any impact. Running fast doesn’t matter if you don’t hit or catch the ball. It is the #1 priority in all of sports.

Could there be such a simple priority for us in our lives?

Philippians 3:7-8 has a unique perspective on this. Paul wrote, “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.” The things that used to be important to Paul (gain) lost significance (counted loss) compared to his service to Christ.

Paul goes on to say, “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.” Nothing was as important to Paul as the “knowledge of Christ Jesus.” He compared everything else in his life to dung.

I don’t think I’m there yet. I don’t think I have quite prioritized service to the Savior and coming to know Christ that importantly in my life. There are times I think I prioritize other things.

We all grow in this.

In Section 93:41-48 of the Doctrine and Covenants all 3 members of the 1st Presidency were given almost identical council. Starting with Frederick G. Williams,

“And now a commandment I give unto you—if you will be delivered you shall set in order your own house.”

Then it was Sydney Rigdon,

“I say unto my servant Sidney Rigdon, that in some things he hath not kept the commandments concerning his children; therefore, first set in order thy house.”

And even Joseph Smith,

“And now, verily I say unto Joseph Smith, Jun.—You have not kept the commandments, and must needs stand rebuked before the Lord; Your family must needs repent and forsake some things, and give more earnest heed unto your sayings, or be removed out of their place.”

Here was the Prophet and 1st Presidency working hard in Kirtland to get the Church up and running and the instruction they received from the Lord as to keep their eyes on the ball.

Their families were most important. Not even the establishment of the Church was more important. Running the Church didn’t matter if they lost their families.

The President Oaks quote that I started with outlines both the teachings of Paul and the lesson from the D&C. Our first priority is our relationship with God (Paul called everything else dung) and second are the relationships in our families.

In simple terms the Lord taught us in Matthew 6:33

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Stripping down our lives to these two important pursuits is the beginning of happiness. When we place the proper emphasis on the right things, things that are less important fade away and we can find the peace, joy and happiness that come from close relationships with God and family.

The things don’t matter. The things that won’t be there 10 years from now don’t matter. They won’t make you happy. The small irritations and distractions will fade away. Think of the things you were possibly distracted or focused on 10 years ago. Are they still critical and important now?

In the end, prioritizing God and our families is the path to peace because it reduces stress over unimportant things. Then we have our eye on the ball and can confidently move toward God together with our families.