I Will Be Happy When….
Have you ever uttered these words? Perhaps they went something like “I will be happy when I:
- Make more money
- Get that job
- Lose the weight
- Meet the right man/woman
- Move to a bigger house
- Have kids
- Am able to retire
- Move to a new part of the country
- Get to the weekend
If you’re like most human beings (and like me), at least in the western part of the globe, you’ve uttered these words at least once, most likely more often than that. As a whole we’re programmed to believe that we lack something and that when we get “it”, we’ll be happy.
Have you ever desperately wanted to change jobs? Did you succeed and get a new job that sounded so much better than the last and then find that for the most part it was like a déjà vu but with all the names and faces changed? Or, maybe you did really enjoy the new job, but it didn’t really make you feel any better or happier on the inside?
That’s not surprising because happiness is an inside job and if you keep waiting for something “out there” (the job, house, money, etc.) to happen in order to be happy and enjoy your life; you’ll be waiting a damn long time.
As someone who trained as a coach under the wise guidance of Debbie Ford, I am a sucker for a great question, even when it stumps me in my tracks. One of my favorites is (with respect to “I’ll be happy when”) is – “And what if you never get that? What if what you have and who you are right now is all there is? How will you have a great life then?”
How to Have a Great Life Anyway
A great life is lived right here and now. If you can’t be happy, grateful, and fully alive with the current condition of your life, you won’t miraculously be transformed just because you get something (in the external world) that you say you want. That doesn’t mean making changes and achieving things you want can’t improve your life. It most certainly can and will. Yet, achieving goals is just a magnifier of what already IS whether that is a feeling of abundance or lack. How can that be you say?
Let’s take the example of “I’ll be happy when I get more money.” Regardless of whether you have a net worth of $1, $-1000, or $1,000,000 if you don’t feel abundance in your life (in all areas, not just money) and don’t believe that it is possible, winning the lottery isn’t going to change one darn thing. You’ll simply burn through the money to re-establish harmony with your beliefs (lack/scarcity) and you won’t feel one bit more worthy, happy, or better about yourself. Even if you do manage to maintain your financial wealth, your feelings on the inside aren’t going to suddenly change. You’ll simply be living a richer lifestyle (not a life) while you’re feeling unhappy.
If, on the other hand you’re already happy and fulfilled and happen to win the lottery, your feelings of abundance and happiness won’t change. You’ll simply have more money to enjoy some of the material things and comforts that financial wealth can offer. Once again, on the inside you have not fundamentally changed.
How do you make this shift? It is only possible from the inside out. That is, taking a look inside yourself and learning how to be happy, present, and comfortable in your own skin with WHO you are at all times. Some ways you can start to do this are:
- Spend quiet time with yourself
- Learn how to meditate and create a nourishing ritual
- Journal about how you feel
- Explore the question – “What will I feel and what will it mean when I get what I say I want?” Look beyond the “I will be happy when…” mantra to see what you REALLY want. For instance: security, love, beautiful surroundings, freedom, etc.
- Make a list every day for the next thirty days of ten things you are most grateful for
- Acknowledge yourself and be your own raving fan. Every day – make a list of ten things that you can pat yourself on the back for (ex: speaking up in a meeting, honoring your commitment to exercise, etc.)
- Read books and watch movies that inspire you and encourage you to look at your life more deeply. My contribution to the 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life book is a great start as are the movies from The Spiritual Cinema Circle.
- Have fun each day, every day. Do something fun for at least a few minutes and plan some extended fun (hours or a full day) each week.
Life is meant for living and the time is now. Absolutely nothing will be suddenly better or radically different simply by changing something in your external world. Sure, change on the outside can have a huge positive impact, but the real journey toward a life by your own design begins within.