What You Don’t Need

“You can never get enough of what you don’t need, because what you don’t need  doesn’t have the power to satisfy you.” –As quoted by Dallin H. Oaks.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the things in life that I need vs. the things I don’t need.

As a father, its my job to teach my kids the difference between needs and wants.

As a man, its critical for me to keep clear not only that difference but also the added complexity of things that are detrimental to my success individually or in my work or my marriage, my family, and my discipleship. Some things are simply no greater or worse than distractions. Other things are corrosive to the soul, like poison to my ability to be real, grounded, and able to respond with strength to life’s challenges.

The truth is, every day is a struggle. Every day is hard. If I don’t stay clear on what I truly need, even at the expense of good things that are comparatively wants, I could develop a pattern of selfishness that simply can’t create lasting peace and happiness.

I’m not afraid to admit that I fail at this… often.

But, that is exactly why, I think, I have been more successful than at earlier times in my life… because I need to do better and be more, and I admit that out loud.

In 1991, Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles noted in a talk on Joy and Mercy the following (emphasis added):

Brothers and sisters, old and young, I plead with each of you to remember that wickedness never was happiness and that sin leads to misery. Young people, do not seek happiness in the glittering but shallow things of the world. We cannot achieve lasting happiness by pursuing the wrong things. Someone once said, “You can never get enough of what you don’t need, because what you don’t need won’t satisfy you.”

Young and old, turn your eyes and your hearts away from the deceptive messages of the media. There is no happiness in alcohol or drugs, only enslavement. There is no happiness in violence, only pain and sorrow. There is no happiness in sexual relations and physical familiarities outside the bonds of marriage, only degradation and increased momentum along the way to spiritual death.

There is no lasting happiness in what we possess. Happiness and joy come from what a person is, not from what he or she possesses or appears to be. Youth, hold fast to your standards. Study and use that saving pamphlet, For the Strength of Youth.

Righteousness fosters righteousness. The effects of righteous examples are felt for generations to come. Good parenting produces youth who make good parents. Just as many of us have been strengthened by the noble examples of our pioneering ancestors in many lands, so the righteous choices and sacrifices of our day can bless our families and our friends and our nations for all the years to come.
[“Joy and Mercy”, DALLIN H. OAKS, https://www.lds.org/ensign/1991/11/joy-and-mercy ]

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