Just a short post today, but I wanted to leave you with a thought to reflect on for the rest of the day. How many times have you caught yourself thinking that you would be happy when/if? These little thoughts don’t have to verbalize themselves in this fashion but are usually expressed out of frustration towards a current problem.
- “I’ll be happy when I achieve my goal.”
- “I’ll be happy if I get more money.”
- “I’ll be happy when I have a boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse.”
- “I’ll be happy if I have better friends.”
- “I’ll be happy…”
The problem is that solving problems doesn’t make you happier. Happiness isn’t reality but a way of interpreting reality. If you can’t find happiness right now, then solving a million problems won’t uncover it. A reader gave me a Buddhist quote a few days ago that I think sums it up well, “There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.”
Is there an answer to finding more happiness? Yes, but you won’t like it. The only way to find happiness is to improve the way you interpret it. Solving problems without being mindful about how you perceive them in the grander context is like running in circles. With each problem you solve you need to observe carefully how your mind shifts towards new problems, or worse when the absence of a major problem fills your life with boredom.
Challenges and problems create the means for growth and happiness not the obstacles to them. When one problem is solved, have you ever noticed your mind gravitate to a new one on the horizon. When I was younger and had more trouble making friends, I found general social relationships to be an aggravating problem. Now that I have become extremely proficient in meeting new people and being social I’ve found completely new challenges that the younger me would have never considered my thoughts. The challenges won’t go away and solving them without being mindful of what they represent won’t make you any happier.
The next time you catch yourself in a slump saying to yourself a version of, “I’ll be happy when…” I want you to replace it with, “I’m happy because…”
- Instead of, “I’ll be happy when I achieve my goal.” Say, “I’m happy because I’m achieving my goal.”
- Instead of “I’ll be happy when I have a relationship.” Say, “I’m happy because I’m working towards a relationship.”
- Instead of “I’ll be happy when I get a promotion.” Say, “I’m happy because I am improving as an employee.”
Shift your focus away from an outcome or a solution and towards the growth you are experiencing. The next time you achieve a major goal of yours, I want you to notice how quickly a new goal fills its place. When this pattern repeats itself enough times it becomes easy to understand how happiness is always available in the now should you choose to look for it. Have a great day and be happy.