I recently listened to Dan Harris’s book “10% Happier” where he writes mostly about mindfulness and his own personal transformation from being a cut throat news broadcaster to finding his “inner peace” through meditation. One of the subjects Dan brings up is “The Lie We Tell Ourselves”. This “Lie” is when we say in our heads or out loud “I will be happier when ___________ happens”…this thought inhibits us from truly living in the moment because we are constantly thinking that we can’t possibly be happy now, we must wait until the future.
How many times do we catch ourselves thinking “when I loose these extra 10 lbs I will be happier”…”when I make more money I will be happier”… when in reality none of that can really truly make us happy. Happiness does not come from money, losing weight or buying materialistic items. Happiness comes from those things we do that bring us joy, such as spending time with family and friends and immersing ourselves in rich life experiences.
I have found through my meditation practice that staying in the moment in these busy lives we have is a very difficult task. When our minds are going 500 miles a minute, it can be difficult to stop, and live in the moment and become mindful. If we can just remember that purchasing things, changing our physical appearance and such may enhance our lives but it does not make us happy. Sometimes we strive to look a certain way or purchase more and more but we end up still feeling unfulfilled.
Toward the end of my graduate school courses I was just so burnt out and done. I would conjure up what life would be like when I didn’t have to do grad work or spend time writing papers. In all honesty now that this time is gone, I sometimes miss those Sundays of locking myself in the office with a cup of tea and writing a paper. I miss feeling that accomplished every week, but at the time I totally wished it away because I thought once it was over I would be happier. Not true, I was happy still in grad school, I just didn’t have as much free time…I also chose not to be happy or cranky some days and blamed it on my grad work, when really I made that choice. You have the choice to choose how you are going to let situations and others in your life make you feel.
I recently purchased a new car. It was the first time in a long time that I truly did not feel like “when I get my new car life will be so much better”…I knew this was not true at all. My life was always pretty amazing in my old Jeep Liberty, and I have such happy memories in that car. Buying a new car did not make me happier…yes it enhances my current driving experience but honestly being in any type of car with Andrew or friends or family makes me happy.
We have to learn to create our own happiness. So, during this Thanks-Giving season and Holiday season…how can you cultivate and create your own happiness?
Don’t fall in the trap of living for the future “when I accomplish x,y,z I will be happy”…Fall in love with living in the now. If you look around you your now is probably pretty amazing.