Why Can’t You Be Happy Now?
How many times have you heard a colleague or a friend say “I can’t wait until I get this business going well so I can get back to enjoying my life,” or “I can’t wait until this project is done so I can relax and sleep well again,” or “I look forward to my retirement when I can just live like the way I want to and be happy.”
When you attach conditions to when you will be happy, you are showing up for your life each day, but you are not living it.
If you allow this bargaining for your happiness in the future (when everything else is done) this philosophy of life will harden into a habit. That habit will shape your life and become your unhappy routine.
Putting off being happy builds its own momentum of accepting misery for today for a promise of something better tomorrow, and in that unhappy cycle, tomorrow never comes.
Many great thinkers of the world have pondered this human tendency and expressed their concern for putting off happiness as a way of life.
“Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken,” is the way Warren Buffett put it.
The intellectual author Albert Camus, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature, explored the idea in a beautiful essay called “Love of Life” that you can pick up in a collection of his work called Lyrical and Critical Essays.
“Life is short, and it is sinful to waste one’s time,” he writes. “They say I’m active. But being active is still wasting one’s time, if in doing one loses oneself. Today is a resting time, and my heart goes off in search of itself. If an anguish still clutches me, it’s when I feel this impalpable moment slip through my fingers like quicksilver…I can say and in a moment I shall say that what counts is to be human and simple. No, what counts is to be true, and then everything fits in, humanity and simplicity. When am I truer than when I am the world? My cup brims over before I have time to desire. Eternity is there and I was hoping for it. What I wish for now is no longer happiness by simply awareness.”
Awareness as a goal instead of happiness? Now that would be a great habit to develop.
You can change the way you perceive life and happiness. You can change the habit of putting off happiness and awareness while you are mired in today’s projects. And you can do that and still get your work done and lead a productive life.
It’s all about attitude. Don’t feel discouraged if it takes a little bit of time to shift your thinking. It is normal. In fact, science tells us that it can take anywhere between 18 to 254 days to change a habit.
Open your mind to change and then set goals to return to awareness of the moment you are in several times a day. It is not a cliché to remind yourself to stop and smell the roses, to step outside your office however briefly and feel the sun on your face or hear the leaves rustle in the breeze.
It is not lazy to book days off and take them and revel in good relationships and the beauties of life. You deserve to do this now, not wait until some distant date when it will just be postponed again.
How can you get started?
Think about the excuses you use to avoid happiness in the present moment. You are too busy, too stressed, have too many responsibilities, have money problems, have relationship problems, have an impossible boss, have an impossible client….the list goes on and on.
Now ask yourself what would happen right now if you engaged in one simple life pleasure. You step to the window and watch rain cascading down or sunshine lighting up the landscape. You make an herbal tea and savor the fragrance and warmth. You take two minutes to call someone you love or send them a simple “My life is rich because of loving you” message.
The more stressed you are, and the more you are putting off your happiness until tomorrow, the more it means that you need a break today.
Try to break your big dreams that are impossible at this point into little dreams that are very possible. You long for a river cruise in Europe that involves visits to local markets and wineries. Have you taken the time to tour a local winery close to your own home, or pick up fresh produce at your community market? Could you do that this Saturday afternoon, and just be happy?
You long to have the time for elegant dinner parties with sparkling conversation. What’s to stop you from throwing some burgers on the barbecue tonight and having two inspiring, optimistic friends over and see where the night goes? It doesn’t have to be a big production for you to have one happy evening enjoying food and friends.
Are you lowering your standards? Not at all. You are creating the habit of happiness. It has to start somewhere!
Paula Morand is a leadership building, revenue boosting, strategy expanding keynote speaker, author and visionary. This dreaming big and being bold leadership expert and brand strategist brings her vibrant energy, humor and wisdom to ignite individuals, organizations and communities to lead change, growth and impact in a more bold fashion. 24 years, 27,000 clients, 34 countries, 15 books, former radio personality, 11x award winning entrepreneur and humorous emcee.
Check out Paula’s best selling books: “Bold Courage: How Owning Your Awesome Changes Everything”, “Dreaming BIG and Being BOLD: Inspiring stories from Trailblazers, Visionaries and Change Makers” book series; and due to be released December 6th “Bold Vision: A Leader’s Playbook for Managing Growth” go to Amazon http://ow.ly/i8yW307ix67
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