Have you ever caught yourself saying anything like this:
“I’ll be happy when I just get that raise.”
“I’ll be happy when I just get married.”
“I’ll be happy when I just finish college.”
“I’ll be happen when I just make the team.”
“I’ll be happen when I just get through this pandemic.”
If you’ve caught yourself saying words like these, then it’s time for a change. “I’ll be happy when I just…” never really works. It convinces you that your happiness is dependent on something outside of you to happen. We can’t rely on things outside of us to make us happy. Sure, a raise, getting married, finishing college, etc… can bring you temporary happiness, but if these were the end game of happiness, then everyone who has done these things would be happy. And that’s not always the case.
Happiness can’t be found in some future hope…
We can’t base our happiness on what we hope is going to happen in the future. Well, you could try, but I think you’ll have better odds at the craps table. When we base our happiness on a future event, one that we can’t fully control, we set ourselves up for disappointment. And let’s be honest, we can’t really control anything. Sure we can do what we believe to be “all the right things” but that certainly doesn’t guarantee anything. That just improves our odds. But even with the best odds, we don’t know what life is going to throw at us. All we can do is our best, and while doing that, find happiness along the way.
Then how do you find happiness?
If you set a goal, make a good plan, and execute that plan, won’t you find happiness? Maybe, maybe not. The secret is that you have to find happiness in the doing, not in the end result. Now, there’s nothing wrong with being happy when you reach a goal, but you need to be happy with what you’re actually doing. For example, that raise can bring you some temporary happiness, but was it worth it if you are incredibly miserable on your way to getting it? Probably not. I promise you, the joy you feel from achieving the raise will be short-lived if the path to getting it was miserable. True happiness can be found in how you feel about what you’re doing. And if what you’re not enjoying what you’re doing, it may be time for a change.
Happiness is not some end game, but a continuous game. Sure, you can find temporary happiness when you reach a destination or achieve a goal, but finding the kind of joy that is longer lasting has to come from the joy you feel in what you’re doing. This kind of happiness is experienced in the present moment…in the act of what you’re actually doing now. We can’t rely on things outside of our control to bring us happiness. That’s futile and will lead to a road of disappointment.
If you insist on starting your hope for happiness with saying, “I’ll be happy when I just…”, make sure the second part of that sentence is, “…learn to be happy with what I’m doing right now.” If you could just learn to be happy with what you’re doing right now, taking from it everything you can and putting into it everything you have, you’ll find the present moment more rewarding and more joyful than anything you could hope for in the future.