‘I’ll be happy when….’
This often repeated phrase seems pretty innocent on the surface. It implies that we’re on the road to happiness and satisfaction, but we just need one more thing on the way, as if it’s picking up bread and milk on the way home.
Once this thing happens, then everything will be perfect. Life will be complete. It might be that you feel you need to earn a little bit more money. Or needing to lose that extra 2 kgs of weight. Or needing to get that promotion.
When ‘When’ Never Comes
Let’s be honest here. How do you feel when that ‘one thing’ you’ve been seeking finally eventuates? Do you feel happy? Maybe for a little while, but what happens when the gloss rubs off? In our experience, we discovered that the ‘one thing’ was never enough. When we got that promotion, we realised it wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be, and that extra money and status didn’t really produce the pay-off we expected. We actually needed more money and another promotion, then we’ll be happy! And on it went. The mirage on the horizon never got any closer.
Why not be happy now?
That’s the pitfall of ‘I’ll be happy when’. It robs us of the joy we have in our life right now. Either the moment never arrives, or its not all it’s cracked up to be. It leaves us feeling pretty bitter, even resentful at a world that doesn’t deliver what we truly want in life.
For us, it’s no way to live. That’s why we adopted the mantra of ‘happiness now’. It means that even if we have goals, ambitions and/or desires (they are great things), achieving them is never the source of our happiness. Why? Because happiness comes from within.
Gratitude Can Help
Cultivating a gratitude mindset has been a game changer for us. It has helped us connect to that source of joy that’s in our life, and really experience it.
How does gratitude work?
For the past 6 months, we’ve been keeping a (mostly!) daily gratitude journal. All it requires is that we write at least 3 things that were grateful for in the past 24 hours.
Here’s an example of one of Matt’s entries from March 11th:
I am grateful for the fact that I now have a safe roadworthy vehicle to drive for the next 12 months
You see, we had Car registration fee, Compulsory Third Party Insurance, and a car registration inspection (which resulted in nearly $1000 worth of repairs) all hit us in the same week.
The question was: did we want to live a life of resenting the inevitable costs of living in our modern society? Or would I rather appreciate the fact that we have a car. What we are really asking is did we want to choose love, or choose fear?
Yes, this was a very difficult gratitude problem and our first reaction was frustration and anger! It required a lot of effort to see the gift in the fact that we had to hand over a substantial sum of money just to keep our car running. But hey, now the car is sweet and we can travel where we need to be when we want to! You see, it’s impossible to be angry and grateful at the same time. By feeling grateful for our roadworthy car, we let go of the anger and resentment. Instead, we come from a place of love and gratitude.
That’s Gratitude in action!
Gratitude (and love) is all we need
When we were kids, we always lived for the present moment. The only time that mattered was now. But as we grow up, we shift our focus away from the present and towards the past and the future. We yearn for the time when we were a kid with no responsibility and no bills to pay! Or we long for the time, when we are old enough to retire.
Everything we think, say and feel creates our reality. Our experience with gratitude has taught us that everything you’ve ever wanted in life, is already around us. It’s just a matter of perspective. Once you learn to love and accept the life you have RIGHT NOW as it is, it takes away the fear, worry and resentment.
When we ignore the gifts of life, we are robbed of love, joy and happiness.
So which would you choose? A life of gratitude and love, or a life or dissatisfaction and fear?
The choice is yours!
Matt and Nat