There is an abundance of things going right in our lives, but sometimes we choose to focus instead on what’s going wrong and what we are missing. We let our problems loom over us and believe they are standing between us and happiness. We think we can’t be happy as long as we have these obstacles in our way, but we are wrong.
We feed ourselves ideas that start with phrases like “I’ll be happy when…” and “I won’t be happy as long as…”
We set rules and limitations on the boundaries of our happiness. We base the pursuit of happiness on future possibilities that are not guaranteed. We tell ourselves that we will be happy once we lose weight. We believe that we will be happy as soon as we start making more money. We think we will be happy once we are in a romantic relationship. We focus on the potential ahead, even though now is all that we have.
Research into the science of happiness has often shown that we are poor predictors of the things that will truly make us happy. We lack the foresight to consider all the influencing factors and base our beliefs on unrealistic ideologies. Most likely they will make us happy for a time until we focus on something else we want and slip back into a state of dissatisfaction.
We all have problems and experience setbacks, and this will always be the case. This is life. We all want things that we don’t currently have, and we will always be in pursuit of things we think will lead to a better life. Maybe these things that we want will make us happy, and maybe they won’t. Regardless, the key is choosing the right focal points to calibrate our “happy” state of mind and not holding ourselves back based on endless wanting. Life is a balancing act and so is happiness.
One obstacle I have let stand in my way is weight gain. In the past I have let it take over more of my existence that I like to admit. At times it has become the only thing I can see. I think, “I’ll be happy when I lose this weight,” putting all my “happy” eggs in one basket, so to speak. I feel like hiding, become less engaged in life, and ultimately create a ripple effect that morphs into depression.
Eventually I get tired of feeling miserable in this self-induced state of unhappiness and come to my senses, but I can’t get those wasted days back. We cannot get any of these days back, so why do we let them pass us by and continue to make our happiness contingent on future things that may or may not come to fruition?
We can practice being happy now by taking action, showing gratitude, and being present.
It’s great to recognize the components of our lives that we want to change, that we want to improve. Identifying them allows us to then create a plan of action to make those changes and in turn create better lives for ourselves. When I am unsatisfied with an aspect of my life and I know I need a change, I only feel better when I take steps to remedy it. I think about why I want the change and what I can do to start. Once I start putting forth effort to improve my situation, my “happy” state improves and I feel more in control of my life.
In the meantime, we can recognize the vast array of positive things that already exist in our lives. We can think about the things we have earned, accomplished, and experienced in addition to the natural wonders that surround us every day. Thinking about them when we wake up in the morning and before we go to bed at night will bring them to the forefront of our minds. Writing them down will make them sticky and even easier to see as we flow through our days with an increased sense of appreciation for all that we have.
We think about how happy we’ll be when this or that happens in the future, all the while missing the amazing things that are happening now. Being mindful of the present moment will help keep us grounded. It will decrease our stress and worry over things yet to come so that we can focus on today. It will decrease our dissatisfaction with the current state of our lives and help us pay closer attention to the important things that are right in front of us.
There is no reason to hold back and wait for when certain things fall into place. We can enjoy our lives, have fun, explore, and engage. We can be happy now.