I think it's natural for us all to want to justify and/or measure our level of content and happiness. We compare it to other times in our lives and we feel good if we come to a place where we feel happier than we were in the past. My own life is a great example. On this day 3 years ago I was merely hours into a whirlwind life changing event. I couldn't imagine that I would heal, let alone be happy. But today, my life has made a dramatic change for the better and I am happier and more content than I have ever been. But even in this new life that I have, there are still things that I think about that “if only” I had them, I could be happier. Now I don't want this to be confused with goal setting which I think is imperative to everyone. Take my friend Jenny Blake. Jenny is a goal setting supergirl. I've never met anyone so young that can make a goal, determine mindfully how she is going to reach it, and attain it. If she could bottle it and sell it, she would be a millionaire. Her type of goal setting, in my opinion, is healthy. What I'm talking about is the type of person who keeps saying, “If I only had a significant other” or “If only I had a better job”. This person may look to other people or even celebrities as having it all and that their own happiness is futile. Satisfaction is always out of reach. I think to some extent we all do it. For me, right now I am stuck in, “If only I could get my coaching business off the ground.” and “If only I had the confidence to write a book”.
Harold Kushner, in the book Practice Random Acts of Kindness talks about the everyday circumstances in our lives having the potential to bring us great happiness or despair. Everyday occurrences usually happen by chance, so if we rely on everyday events as the foundation of our feelings, what an emotional roller coaster to live on each day! He says that if we make a list of our “if only”s we can see what we put all of our emotion into. Then, he suggests ripping it up or burning it. I probably would like to keep mine as a reminder of what's really not that important to my happiness.
It's hard not to focus on a single achievement or goal. But I think when we let go of the feeling of the final outcome, when we don't get attached to the happiness “it” should bring us, but instead focus inward on ourselves, you will never fail to find the happiness within.
Photo courtesy of Kristina Chartier