“Tomorrow will be a better day.”
“I’ll be happy when I get a new job.”
“Life will be so much better when I have more money.”
I’m sure these types of thoughts have wiggled their way into your head at some point in time. I have certainly been guilty of this thinking in the past. We each have our own “I’ll be happy when [fill in the blank].” However, the universe has time and time again shown us that thinking like that is actually HARMFUL to our happiness. Let me explain.
Thinking that any one change [or hell, even a total transformational shift] in your life is going to BRING your happiness is a faulty way to look at it for a few reasons:
1. You miss out on today’s happiness.
Living your life always waiting for what is to come on the horizon completely takes you out of the present. When we are constantly looking towards some goal or accomplishment to bring us joy, we miss out on all the beauty that surrounds us everyday. If we are not appreciative for our lives as they are, even when they seem pretty lousy, we waste precious time worrying, being upset, or being completely indifferent. How would it feel to look back and realize that you have spent the majority of your life thinking “I’ll be happy TOMORROW” instead of choosing to be happy RIGHT NOW?
2. You give yourself excuses to stay miserable, stuck, stagnant.
If you need to wait for something to happen to be happy, then what would be the point in taking action now… right? It sounds silly, but, that is what we tell ourselves when we fall into thinking “I will be happy when [fill in the blank.]” We give our minds permission to stop problem solving, to stop learning, to stop growing. And, thus, we stay in the same position- miserable and stuck.
3. You live passively, waiting for things to happen to change your current situation.
Rather than taking control of your own life, you sit back and wait for the stars to align, for the pieces to fall into place, for a struck of luck to help you along your way. This often causes us to delay making other moves in our life because we are waiting for certain boxes to get checked off. Life is meant to be lived passionately and with purpose, but to speed by us as we passively wait for things to happen.
4. Being negative, unpassionate, unfulfilled, and even being “content” become habits.
It is so easy to get stuck in the loop of negative thinking, especially when we don’t make the decision to get out of it. “I will be happy when [fill in the blank]” does not inherently come off as negative, however the messages that it sends our brains can be harmful to our progress and development. It tells us: we are NOT happy right now and that we have to WAIT to be happy. Even after we finally reach that predetermined goal, the happiness is short-lived. A new milestone will fill in the blank for us and we will be striving once again to be happy. Be careful:
Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.
The fact that you have taken notice to these thoughts is the first step to being happy, right now. Here are a few shifts to make in your life to embrace this change:
1. Show gratitude for the good in your life today.
Being grateful for what you have and for where you are at in life is the most effective way to be happy, right now. I am positive that you can find things to express gratitude for: your family, your friends, a hot cup of coffee, the birds chirping, food on your table. The less we need to be happy, the easier it is to, well, be happy. I like to write down 5 things I am grateful for every single day to remind me how beautiful life is.
2. Make a plan to change the areas of your life that you are not happy with.
I am ALL for changing things in your life when they are not working and they are not making your happy. However, in order to do that, you much make a decision and stick to it. You must come up with a plan so that you can take action to make a change. Passively waiting for things to change, no matter how much you trust the universe, takes the control completely out of your hands and can leave you feeling helpless and frustrated. Have aggressive patience- know that good things take time, but do everything in your power to accomplish your goals. And don’t forget to ENJOY the process and EMBRACE the struggle.
3. Do something that you love every single day.
Can you think of some super simple things that always put a smile on your face? Maybe it’s watching funny cat videos, calling your sister, taking a walk, or having a good meal. I bet if you think about it, you can come up with quite a few of life’s simplicities that bring you joy. I invite you to take the time to do something that you love every single day. I like to think of this as self-care and it is vital to enjoying this roller coaster of life we’re on. I mean, if you don’t take care of yourself… who will?
4. Realize that happiness is a choice!
Last but not least, change your perspective on happiness. Realize that it is not a destination, it is just a simple choice. I know it is not always easy to choose happiness, however, what is the alternative? Are you okay with living a life in which happiness is always around the next corner? Do you want to go through life waiting for happiness to come to you or are you going to go get it? [Psst… it is right under your nose.]