Scott H Young

I Will Be Happy When…


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.
Examples include:

  • “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…”

Some examples:

  • 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.


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9 Responses to “I Will Be Happy When…”

  1. Excellent article. I totally agree that you should try and focus on your growth instead of the outcome. And really nice buddist quote. By the way, do you know of any good books about focusing on the now? I´ve got Eckhart Tolle´s “The Power of Now” on my reading-list but would love other suggestions.

  2. Andrew says:

    Really cool article, Scott. Just a simple shift in mindset goes so far. Thank you so brightening my day, man.

  3. Scott Young says:

    Thanks for the comments Henrik and Andrew,

    Henrik – I can’t suggest any books that really impacted me greatly in this philosophy. I’ve heard great things about “The Power of Now” but have yet to read it. If you are looking for some reading on a similar line you might want to check my article, “Balancing Today and Tomorrow” here:

    http://www.scotthyoung.com/blog/2006/05/05/balancing-today-and-tomorrow/

  4. I think this is a wonderful point, perhaps one of my favorite personal development ideas.

    There have been studies on lottery winners. Researchers ask lottery winners to note their happiness before and after winning. It turns out that their happiness just about always returns to the pre-winning state in a few month’s time. Winning a million bucks is great, but the pleasure is temporary and should not be confused with true happiness.

    Many of us have experienced this with relationships. I remember in high school I always found myself thinking, “If only I had a girlfriend, I’d be happy.” Sure enough, it (somehow) happened. But in these situations it’s only a few months before other thoughts start coming up, like, “If only this relationship were more fulfilling, I’d be happy.” And thoughts turn outward too–now that you got what you want (a relationship), your mind finds other things it NOW needs to be happy.

    The truth is, happiness is an art and a skill. My two favorite books on developing this skill are:

    Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill
    by Matthieu Ricard

    and

    The Power of Now
    by Eckhart Tolle

    Both contain advice and ideas that will just seem to “stick”–probably for the rest of your life.

    Best,
    Jeff

  5. Scott Young says:

    Thanks Jeffrey,

    I’ll check those books out some time, I’ve heard great things.

  6. HI Scott,

    I think you’re on a bloody well roll. I’ve read all the “big” success and self help authors but for whatever reason, your posts have been making the most sense to me than anything else I’ve read. I mean anything! Keep it up, You’re touching on topics that are truly different and not the same ol’ shite. I’m thankful for what you write.

  7. Scott Young says:

    Thanks for the comments, Geoff.

    I’ve been trying to touch on some topics that I have a minority opinion with regards to the current popular opinion in self-help.

  8. […] I Will Be Happy When… – “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.’” […]

  9. Ruby says:

    Great post!!!

Debate is fine, flaming is not. Pretend that this comment form is a discussion taking place in my house. That means I enjoy constructive criticism and polite suggestions. Personal attacks, insults and all-purpose nastiness will be removed especially if it is directed at other readers.

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