By Kyle Aldous
We each have the same number of hours in the day. 24 hours. Why is it that some folks just seem to get more out of their time?
For Christmas, my wife gave me the gift of a private art lesson with a professional artist in Arizona. I learned about color palettes, gradients and different painting styles. Somewhere in the middle of painting still life fruit, we began talking about how to get the most out of the experiences we are blessed with. She laid out her own theory and said that these precious moments we have come in phases. The key to making the most of each moment is to enjoy each phase as it happens.
The three phases of experience
Anticipation comes easiest of these three phases. We are always looking forward to something. It may be something small, like looking forward to the weekend or something big like looking forward to a temple trip.
Are we so excited about our next trip to the temple that we can't seem to stop thinking about it? Are we so excited for Church that we spend all week preparing for it the way we would prepare for other big events in our lives?
Even the Nephites and Laminates were commanded to anticipate—the phrase "look forward" shows up 19 times in the Book of Mormon.
The Latin root for anticipation literally means to "take into possession beforehand.”
A 2010 study of 1,500 vacationers found that they experienced more joy anticipating their vacation than actually being on vacation. What does this mean for us?
Think about what you are spending your time anticipating. Are you looking forward to your next church meeting? Are you excited to go home teaching? Are you preparing to partake of the sacrament on Sunday? We can begin to feel the joy of these events long before they ever occur.
Participation means that when the moment finally arrives and it's time for our vacation, weekend, holiday, night, or time in the temple that we actively engage in the moment.
However, for many people, instead of being in the moment and participating we tend to push forward to "get it done." How many times have you been in the middle of an activity when someone commented, “I'll be happy when we get through this?”
In an address to the sisters in 2008, Elder Ballard quoted author Anna Quindlen saying, "the biggest mistake I made as a parent is the one that most of us make. I did not live fully in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less."
Where does our mind go when we step into the temple? Do we step inside to enjoy the peace and let ourselves be reminded of our sacred covenants? Are we actively engaged in the ordinances taking place or simply going through the motion? What are we thinking about during the sacrament? Are we focused on the lesson while the home teachers are in our home?
Heavenly Father commanded the Nephites and Lamanites to be doers. You will find active words like go, do, listen, and hearken regularly inside the Book of Mormon. The combination of those words shows up over 1,000 times.
Heavenly Father doesn't just want bodies in the temple He wants active participants who are ready to receive blessings. We will get more out of every experience if we can stay actively engaged in the moment, especially when we are inside the temple.
Reflection is the final phase of experience. Unfortunately, it is the most neglected phase. We tend to look forward to an experience, have the experience, and then we simply move on to something else. There's nothing wrong with beginning to anticipate something new, but if we don't allow time for reflection we may never actually get the full value out of the experience we just had.
Think back to your time in school and remember some of the study strategies recommended for truly learning and processing certain material. One of the most basic study strategies is to take the information presented in class and revisit it in a quiet moment afterward and summarise your learnings.
The application to spiritual experience is obvious. We may go into the temple with questions, concerns, or ideas and if we are actively participating Heavenly Father will give us exactly what we need. But as soon as we step foot outside the temple, do we pull our phones out, hop back on social media, and begin moving into anticipation for other events.
When we reflect on our time in the temple we are able to have our covenants firmly planted in our minds and hearts along with the feelings, ideas, and promptings that Heavenly Father specifically gave to us. When we take the rest of our sabbath day to consider the lessons and talks given we allow Heavenly Father to let those messages grow deeper roots in our minds and hearts.
In Book of Mormon, you will find that 161 times the Nephites and Lamanites were commanded to remember—to take time to think about the experiences they had or were taught.
We can use this framework; anticipation, participation, and reflection to really increase the impact these experiences have on our lives. Heavenly Father does not simply want us to “get it done”—He needs us to be actively engaged. When we are, He can open up the windows of heaven and provide each of us with the exact promptings, ideas, and feelings we need to be able to always remember Him and to get the most out of each experience.