“Don’t wait for everything to be perfect before you decide to enjoy your life.” -Joyce Meyer
We spend so much of our lives jumping from one goal to the next, one destination to another, always thirsty for the next thing, putting our joy on hold until we get what we want. And as soon as we get what we want, we want something else.
We spend our time waiting: to go on vacation, get money, that new outfit, the new car, the lover, the Amazon package, the party, the birthday, to finish our book, finish our home-improvement project. We spend a crazy amount of time waiting to live, or to feel happy, wrongly assuming we’ll be complete when we “arrive.”
The thing is that there’s always a new thing to want, a new problem to solve, a new event to look forward to, a new goal to accomplish. There is always, always, always, another thing to want.
I remember when I was living paycheck-to-paycheck, hoping and praying I’d make rent each month, and feeling like it was some miracle when I inevitably made it in time, with about $15 left over to spend until my next check.
At the time, I thought, if I could just double my income, I’d be so much happier. I’d have money to travel, buy new clothes, and have peace of mind.
Then, a job came where I literally doubled my income. I admit, not having to stress about having enough money for rent and groceries, and having some play money did make a very positive impact on my life, and I would not want to go back to scrounging to get by.
What happens, though, is the novelty of that money wares off, you adjust your spending habits and find new ways to spend your money, and one day, you realize, you’re as happy as you ever were, and maybe, even, you’re requirements for happiness have stayed the same, or even increased. In other words, you need more to be as content as you used to be with less, or you’re most content enjoying a free sunset walk on the beach.
Now, everyone deserves to be financially comfortable. Everyone should know, though, that you can be happy before that happens, and while it’s happening.
The Cycle of Waiting
Wanting and waiting puts our happiness outside of ourselves. It’s a vicious cycle that turns happiness into a treasure hunt, when really it’s an inside job. Your happiness doesn’t exist in the richer, thinner future version of you, it exists in the present you, right now. You can take your happiness with you as you evolve into your future self, but don’t fool yourself into thinking your future self is hoarding all your happiness in her closet full of designer clothes.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting more, as makes us human and keeps us growing. Solving problems, new clothes, vacations, relationships. reaching goals and making more money can all bring us more joy and pleasure.
We often get more pleasure out of the wanting, daydreaming, and anticipation itself than of the having of the thing! We are funny creatures in that way, and our imaginations can gift us with some killer fantasies.
If we stop to notice, we can eliminate a lot of our own suffering if we learn to stop to enjoy the process, enjoy the moment, and enjoy the wanting itself, knowing ahead of time that once we get what we are after, we’re likely to feel the same and begin wanting again.
Like anything, we can learn to stop this process, and learn to watch it instead, choosing to live our lives alongside wanting to improve them, without losing too much precious time missing our on the present moment.
You can want to improve your life, and want to solve your problems, and also find ways to enjoy your life in those moments, instead of using all of your brain power to focus on the things you want, or the things you don’t want and how to “fix them.”
It’s like when people lose weight and still have body-image issues, and they want to keep losing weight. Some people put off social engagement, clothing shopping, vacations, and dating until they get to their “goal weight” only to find that they still hate what they see in the mirror, and now they avoid socializing so they can stick to their rigid diets. Choosing to enjoy your life in a conditional way is a recipe for unnecessary suffering, and it’s a good way to let your life slip by.
For example “I’ll be happy when I lose ten pounds,” or “I’ll be happy when I’m in a relationship,” or “I’ll be happy when I get a new job,” You’re giving yourself a guarantee that does not exist, and happiness does not work like that. Happiness always exists in the now with what is.
Some people might think there is virtue in never being satisfied, because it keeps you improving, achieving, accumulating, but that’s not the full story. You can be happy and satisfied and still want more. You can love yourself, forgive yourself, and accept yourself exactly as you are, and still desire to change and improve.
Wanting propels us forward, stretches our limits, and teaches us.
We are constantly discovering new things that excite us, things we want to have, experience or learn. When we make it a priority to look for the good, to do things that make us feel good, and cut out the things that don’t, we give ourselves the gift of more energy- not only to go after more of the things we want, but to attract them as well.
Your Life is Happening Now
It is your responsibility alone to try to feel good more of the time, and realize that your life exists in the moments of striving, wanting, reaching, desiring, and just BEING! Allow yourself to just be, to enjoy what is, to enjoy the process.
Challenge yourself to shift your mindset to appreciate the present because that is where the magic is and it’s also our only guarantee. Your life exists right now, and choosing to enjoy the process is an awesome gift to give yourself, and others in your life.
Enjoy the making, the writing, the planning, the dreaming, enjoy your cup of coffee, your ability to feel a wide range of emotions, your cute conversation with your favorite barista, your morning still warm in bed, the evening sunset, your dinner, fresh laundry, a hot shower, a good laugh.
Enjoy your life and stop living in your head, waiting to get to the next thing.
The Ultimate Waiting Room
Living in your head, constantly waiting for the next thing is kind of like spending your life in the swankiest waiting room ever and just choosing to sit there bored, waiting for your name to be called, even though you’re surrounded by art, books, magazines, a full movie selection, craft supplies, a 3D printer, a petting zoo, trampolines, a silent disco, a dress up room, a full bar, musical instruments, a stocked music library, and really cute pets. You’re only bored because you’re choosing to be. And there’s no promise you won’t still be bored and just escorted to another waiting room when your name gets called, so you might as well enjoy the wait and play around.
As a species, we need to learn to live in the moment. If we don’t, our lives can pass us by as we spend our present moments planning social media posts, and living in future fantasyland.