The pursuit of happiness. It was written into the American constitution as our right. The right to pursue happiness. Basically, go chase after happiness, it grants us.
But who is truly successful in this pursuit of happiness? When do you actually feel like wow, what a chase, but I’ve got you at last! Is it when you finally graduate from school and get out on your own? When you land a great job? When you get that promotion? When you marry that person? When you have kids, when your kids are old enough to be on their own? When you finally retire? When you have X amount of money? When you’ve travelled X amount of places?
I could go on and on, but I think you get the point. At what point do we stop chasing happiness and actually feel it? To answer this question, we should first know what happiness is.
Let’s say that happiness means contentment and peace of mind. It’s a feeling of completeness, that nothing is missing to spoil the state of contentment and lead to the feeling of lack.
Oh boy, you might be thinking, there’s no way I could possibly be happy until X,Y and Z! We’re taught that happiness exists in the future. How often do you wait for some event to happen before you feel like you can truly drop in and be happy? You might think, when the repairs on the house are finished, when I take that vacation, or the BIG one – when I lose the weight. THEN I can be happy, THEN I can start really living and being who I’m supposed to be!We’re taught that happiness exists in the future. How often do you wait for some event to happen before you feel like you can truly drop in and be happy? ~Meghan Leah, MS, RD Click To Tweet
Let me save you a lot of time wasted in waiting to be happy, so you can start actually being happy. There is no happiness in the future. Happiness is now and can only be experienced now.There is no happiness in the future. Happiness is now and can only be experienced now. ~Meghan Leah, MS, RD Click To Tweet
Think about it this way. We naturally form habits, and thoughts are definitely habit forming. We can form a habit around a way of thinking. So when you spend so much of your life putting happiness off to the future, what do you think will happen when and if that time comes that you told yourself you’d be happy in arrives? By habit, you will put off your happiness until something else happens in the future!
If the house repairs are fixed, you won’t be able to be happy until you’ve saved up the money you had spend on it. If you’re on that vacation, you won’t be able to be happy until you’re at that amazing restaurant, if you lose the weight – you won’t be happy until you get a whole new wardrobe – and other such lies we tell ourselves.When you spend so much of your life putting happiness off to the future, what do you think will happen when and if that time comes that you told yourself you’d be happy in arrives? ~Meghan Leah, MS, RD Click To Tweet
It’s funny how we say life is short. But that’s only because we spend most of it waiting for a happiness that never arrives! The moments of true happiness when living this way are far and few between. And usually if we ever stop this way of thinking, we’re so old there really isn’t much time left!
So how do we remedy this not being able to be happy until…? We practice being present without thoughts of the past or future to disturb the perfect fullness of the moment. I know, easier said than done. But like I said, thoughts are habit-forming. If you’re in a habit of putting happiness off, you need to start building a new habit of practicing awareness of the present.
Even just once a day, make it a point to become fully aware of the present moment and detach from your thoughts. Thoughts will come, we can’t stop them, but you can stop your attachment to them. Observe them going in and out, without following them.
The reason we need to do this to be happy now, is because the true causes of suffering exist in our thoughts. We’re either regretting the past or fearful of what’s to come. The present is almost always a gentle place where we can find peace.The present is almost always a gentle place where we can find peace. ~Meghan Leah, MS, RD Click To Tweet
The more you practice this, the easier and more natural it will become. You can build a new habitual thought pattern that leads you to find peace and happiness in any given moment. No more waiting for happiness, and when you live like this, each moment is full, which makes for a full life no matter how long it actually is.