“There is no way to happiness – happiness is the way.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
The “I’ll be happy when syndrome”. Anyone else suffer from this?
I look pretty happy right? Well I was! Super happy. The boys were all out of the house and I took my dogs out for a walk in the nippy brisk Albuquerque air. I felt happy!! We just moved into our recently remodeled home this week. We’ve been living with my parents for over 2.5 months and getting into our own space was much needed… for everyone. (Side note: the reason why I’ve been so quiet here lately). I was happy to FINALLY arrive. I can be happy now.
I get my 30 minute walk or so and I get home and notice the boys are back and went right onto their kindles. Now I’m not happy. They will have too much screen time, I tell myself. I begin to allow stressful thoughts like “my kids are addicted to screens”, “I’m a horrible mother allowing them to binge watch YouTube.” UGH. I’ll be happy when we all spend some quality time this weekend to make up for this screen time. I begin to enjoy the quietness of the house and the opportunity to cook a nourishing meal in my new kitchen. I’m happy again. About 30 minutes later I realize that I’m STARVING… or really just hungry. I’ll be happy when I eat… I finally eat. Ahhh, now I’m now I’m full. I’m happy. But then I begin feeling the length of the day, I see the amount of dishes I created and the boys begin to fight (again). “I’m SO tired” I think to myself… I’ll be happy when I’m in bed and the boys are asleep.”
ALL this in just a couple hours! Geesh!
I’ve been in this…
I’ll be happy when “I’m married”, “I have kids”, “I have a big house”, “I’m financially stable”, “My business is thriving”, “When I have a vacation”, “When this move is over”, “When my kids/husband aren’t being assholes”….etc. etc. etc.
…syndrome for most of my life. The past few years I’ve been really become aware of how this cycle is so deeply ingrained and that happiness isn’t an effect, but a cause. You can only be happy now. There will always be ups and downs, highs and lows, fast and slows… we can never control how or what unfolds life… the ONLY thing we can control is our response to each moment.
This syndrome is quite rampant in our society. It’s the belief that we will finally be happy once we get something, somewhere, or some circumstance or person changes… but here’s the thing, if we actually get what we think will make us happy… we find something else that needs to change. We may feel a glimpse of joy, when we actually get what we want, but then we find another reason to be unhappy again. It’s this endless and vicious cycle that keeps us yearning for more and believing that happiness is obtained outside of us. Which couldn’t be further from the truth.
Now I’ll just disclose right here, I’m NO expert. I’m someone who has been on a spiritual journey for a lifetime and now at the age of 40, I feel like I may just slightly understand that I’ll never be happy with or without anything. The only time and place I can be happy is now.
One must CHOOSE happiness.
But how do we do that? Well here are a just a few things I implement daily (or most days) to help me connect with happiness right now… so I thought I’d just share here:
1. Cultivate gratitude. I wake up in the morning and say “Thank you.” I cultivate the feeling of gratitude for being gifted one more day to live. If we really think about that, it’s fucking awesome. It’s easy to forget to be grateful, so reminding yourself everyday when you wake up is a POWERFUL practice. It’s been life-changing for me.
2. Be aware of the belief systems that create unhappiness. I just started to notice the mental chatter associated with when I’m not happy. I notice how I’m wanting things to be different than they are right now. Like my dear friend Angela helped me realize… it’s like wanting something to be a different color than it already is. Like a blue cup. I want you to be red! Be red! Be red! Be red. Nope, it’s still blue. It will always be fucking blue. Accept, process, let go.
3. Connect to the moment. Breathe. Our breath is the doorway into the moment and can be a patter interrupt in those vicious cyclical thought patterns that keep us out of the present moment. Use my tip (#2) above, become aware of you creating unhappiness or dis-ease in the moment and breathe. Get into your body, get into the moment, and then do #1, cultivate gratitude.
There are SO many articles on this syndrome, so if you feel inspired google it… and if you do find some more insight, please share here.
Does anyone else suffer from this? What have you learned over the years to help break the false belief system that keeps you stuck? I’d LOVE to know!
Love and light my friends