I’ll be happy when…I quit my job
I’ll be happy when…I fall in love
I’ll be happy when…I can buy that dream house
I’ll be happy when…I have kids
I’ll be happy when…I lose the weight
I’ll be happy when…I get that degree
I’ll be happy when…I move to (insert city/state here)
I’ll be happy when…I make more money
I’ll be happy when… I am cured
Sound familiar? I believe we all have suffered from a case of the “ill be happy when’s”. It’s only human to think happiness occurs when something we want actually happens, because we often assume that happiness is the result of a future event. Meanwhile, life keeps moving at a rapid pace, and we’re here waiting to be happy – all that has us doing is living in the meantime. The time in-between feeling unfulfilled and waiting for all those ‘I’ll be happy when’ moments to show up. WTF are we doing, folks? Why do we tie our happiness to what will be instead of what actually is? We’re living in the when and disregarding the now. Do me a favor, please: Stop reading this, grab a post-it and pen and write down 2-3 things you’re happy about NOW. I’ll wait.
Great, hopefully you’re back! Please know I don’t write this to preach. I write this because I have always been a “Happy When” chick. Here’s what I’ve learned: it’s a vicious fu*king cycle. Because when those Happy When’s you so dearly waited for become a reality, they’re only a temporary fix. A quick hit of happiness. Soon after, the high wears off and you replace those achieved Happy When’s with the next fantasy of happiness. I don’t know about you, but I am exhausted.
I am going to let you in on one of my many Happy When’s: as I mentioned in my last post, Kellan was delayed meeting all of his milestones, at which point the Happy When’s started to wreak havoc. First, it was “I’ll be happy when he crawls”, and when he crawled at 1 ½ I was happy for about a day. Next up was “I’ll be happy when he walks”, and he didn’t walk until he was almost 4. So, I was basically waiting to be happy for 2 ½ years– how incredibly sad. I missed, and most likely dismissed, happy moments because I was focused on the “when”. Then, when Kellan walked, my next Happy When focused on talking. So, for the first 5 years of being a mom to an incredible little boy, I let the Happy When’s halt my happiness.☹
So, ask yourself this question: When was the last time you achieved a Happy When goal? How quickly did a new Happy When goal fills its place? If you’re anything like me, you most likely had the next one lined up, ready to go.
Yet here we are: a society that eagerly chases happy. Fixated on the end goal, something that is always just eluding us and is slightly over the rainbow. I am here to tell you that it’s a fu*king trap, folks. We are searching for an external solution to an internal problem. When we believe that something outside ourselves is going to make us happy, it’s an ongoing, never-ending, permeating belief that WE are not enough (that’s a topic for another blog). The belief that we need ‘stuff’ to prove that we’re worthy, to make us happy, or to feel fulfilled. If I, a recovering Happy When chick, can offer up my truth, it’s this: your “happiness” cannot be found in that new job, or by moving to a palm-tree-filled state, or by wrapping yourself around the body of that new guy. If you are not happy without those things, you’re not happy.
The good news is, happiness is ALWAYS available in the now (refer back to your post-it note!). We just need to slow the hell down, get present, look up from our phones and pay attention.
It took almost my whole life to realize this and truly practice it (yes, practice, because reprogramming is fu%king hard). So, every time I catch myself– and sometimes I still do– saying a version of “I’ll be happy when…”, I replace it with “I’m happy because…”
And you know what? It freaking works.
- Instead of “I’ll be happy when I achieve my goal”, I flip it and say “I’m happy because I’m achieving my goal”
- Instead of “I’ll be happy when I am in a relationship” I tell myself “I’m happy because I’m working towards a relationship”
It’s as simple as shifting my focus from an outcome or a solution to the growth I am currently experiencing.
Life’s too damn short. Turn your When into Now!
Here are some other things that help me keep happy in the “now”:
Keep a gratitude journal or jar – Nothing will keep you more present in your happy than reminding yourself all that you are thankful for. I love the Five Minute Journal
Post-It-Note: When you find yourself going to your Happy When place, take out a post-it note and jot down 2-3 things that make you happy NOW (don’t overthink it). Seriously, it can be as simple as a Starbucks Frappuccino, your best friend, or reading The Daily Feels (shameless plug, I know). It’s literally the first 2-3 things that come to mind that will throw you right back into the ‘happy now’.
Photos: And if you need a visual reminder of your ‘happy’, take a quick scroll through the camera roll on your phone. Those pictures will be a reminder of all you have to be happy about NOW.