No matter what you have in life, you could always have more. But, is “more” actually better? Postponing fulfillment and happiness through a thought process of “If I had this, then I would be happier” is one of the easiest ways to live a life you are perpetually dissatisfied with. I want to explore an approach to living a life you not only care about but also feel true freedom in living.
First, let’s examine a real-life example of the “If I had this, then I would be happy” and why it doesn’t work. Imagine you live in a small place, and have to sleep on the floor, you could dream of someplace bigger where you have your own room. One day you finally get a place with a room to yourself but you have a roommate. So, you decide you would be happier if you work hard and get a studio apartment all to yourself. In a few years, you are finally able to afford your studio apartment and you even buy it! Yet, you still dream of an even bigger place, something with a view now would surely finally make you happy. So, you scale up to your perfect dream home, a gorgeous ocean view, tucked in nature, and a stunning floor plan. You’ve arrived over and over again, but are you any happier?
The lurking thought of, “how can I make this better” will always be there. This is human nature. So often when “it” arrives, when the dream is accomplished, we’re quickly looking for the next thing, instead of enjoying what’s happening right now. At its core, this is why so many people struggle in life. Waiting for life to change instead of celebrating and loving the way life is a sure-fire way to always be unhappy.
Do not wait for someday, it isn’t coming.
Always waiting for someday means we’re missing out on all that we have right now. I would bet that there are probably a lot of things that we could celebrate that we have right now. Though I know this is simplistic, it does work. Right now is where happiness is. Right now is where we need to live.
You may be asking, “If I am focused on being happy with where I am how can I still become a better human? What about goal setting and self-improvement?” My response would be, “yes!” These are very necessary and healthy practices to have in life. You can strive to reach goals but be conscious of how much your emotional state is weighing on accomplishing the goal. Ask yourself what you are expecting to change when you reach this goal. Do not wait for someday to be happy. You hold the power to choose happiness today!
In practicing presence and achieving happiness, it is also important to be aware of the type of presence you are engaging in. You could live in the now and engage in high-risk activities like getting drunk, partying, and having a “good” time all while not worrying about anything. This is one way to live presently, sort of. The collateral damage that can come along with this lifestyle is massive. Not only that, but this type of presence can leave somebody feeling unfulfilled in life long term.
Value-based goal setting is a type of presence that would be beneficial to engage in over immediate pleasure-based presence. This value-based goal setting could look like choosing to stay away from drugs and alcohol and engaging in practices that are good for your physical and mental health instead.
Within this type of presence is setting goals that allow you to be happy while on the journey of reaching the goal. This could look like asking yourself, “what in my career would I both enjoy working towards and accomplishing in the end?” An answer may be, “I would enjoy taking classes to gain new skills which I could later apply to my job as well.”
For example, let’s look at art as a profession and the goal setting that could go along with following this path. Like any skill, taking classes is beneficial for improvement. So in this case, say you take a class to earn your MFA. If your goal is to get a degree you also get to benefit from engaging in creating art along the way. It’s a win-win. We’ll get a skill that we learn and we get to do what we love.
If a goal of yours is to make a lot of money or be ultra-successful you may engage in a journey of achieving that goal that makes you miserable. Society has a twisted view of sacrificing the moment for an end goal. What if you never reach that goal? Would the sacrifice be worth it? Or even worse, what if you reach the goal and you are still unhappy.
Taking a calculated risk of making goals that allow you to be present and enjoy every step of the journey is a much better way to live your life. Asking yourself what journey you would enjoy engaging in and choosing to follow that path is the key to fulfilling presence. Being happy someday isn’t enough for me and I would guess it isn’t enough for you either.
We could, in so many ways, come to the end of our days much sooner than we thought. Wouldn’t it be better to accept the reality that today may be your last or I may only have a few years left of my life and if that is true, I am going to suck the marrow out of life and live as well as I possibly can.
Potentially, the last day of your life could be today. How could you ever live life with the mentality of “someday” knowing it will never come?