As someone who loves social media, I surprised myself when I decided to take a break from it for a while. I started to notice that I was so hyper-focused on the achievements of those around me, that my own life started to seem dull and unimportant. I was focusing so much on the happiness of others, and less on the blessings that I was receiving daily from Heavenly Father. I had read articles about how we only show the best part of our lives on social media and how we can’t compare ourselves to others because of what they post. Until now, I had been level-headed and didn’t let other’s posts affect me. So what was happening?
I stumbled up this Elder Holland quote that helped:
One observer has written: ‘In a world that constantly compares people, ranking them as more or less intelligent, more or less attractive, more or less successful, it is not easy to really believe in a [divine] love that does not do the same. When I hear someone praised,’ he says, ‘it is hard not to think of myself as less praiseworthy; when I read about the goodness and kindness of other people, it is hard not to wonder whether I myself am as good and kind as they; and when I see trophies, rewards, and prizes being handed out to special people, I cannot avoid asking myself why that didn’t happen to me.’ If left unresisted, we can see how this inclination so embellished by the world will ultimately bring a resentful, demeaning view of God and a terribly destructive view of ourselves. Most “thou shalt not” commandments are meant to keep us from hurting others, but I am convinced the commandment not to covet is meant to keep us from hurting ourselves.
I think that Satan is very aware of when we are struggling and uses that vulnerability against us. I did not want to be ungrateful for my daily tender mercies, and so I needed to find new ways to focus on the good. I decided to only do what made me happy during the day, or at least choose to be happy when it wasn’t easy. As a generally positive, happy person I never had to choose happiness before, but I knew that if I didn’t I would continue to be ungrateful. Elder Bednar recently posted my exact thoughts on his Facebook page when he said:
Much has been said about how “fear of missing out”—or FOMO as it is often referred to—can make it difficult for us to appreciate our current circumstances and environments. This is especially true as people tend to share only the best parts of their family lives and careers with us on social media. I invite you to embrace what the Lord has blessed you with and to act in faith. Do not take counsel from your fears.
To not take counsel from our fears simply means that we do not permit fear and uncertainty to determine our course in life, to affect negatively our attitudes and behavior, to influence improperly our important decisions, or to divert or distract us from all in this world that is virtuous, lovely, or of good report.
To not take counsel from our fears means that faith in the Lord Jesus Christ overrules our fears and that we press forward with a steadfastness in Him.
To not take counsel from our fears means that we trust in God’s guidance, assurance, and timing in our lives.
I promise each of us can and will be blessed with direction, protection, and lasting joy as we learn to not take counsel from our fears.
When I took a step back and realized how much Heavenly Father was involved in the details of my daily life, I realized that I am blessed beyond measure. I learned to trust more in Heavenly Father’s timing. I realized that real love is being happy for the success of others. I learned that by choosing to be happy, you aren’t weak. Choosing to be happy takes faith, and if we choose to be happy long enough we will realize that we were being blessed all along.