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September 12, 2015

Happiness—Why Wait?

Flickr/PROHartwig HKD

Do you ever feel like life is just passing us by? Do you sometimes feel like life is happening whilst we’re busy making plans?

Like many, I’ve had a busy life doing all the things I thought would bring me happiness—yet at the same time, I find myself still waiting for happiness to make an appearance!

We live life as if the purpose is to get everything done—to clear our to do lists, clear up all our issues and only then can we allow ourselves to be happy. Happiness often appears as a far-off destination, that one day—when everything is done and things have fallen into place—we’ll arrive at.

But it isn’t a destination. It’s the journey, and it’s happening now—every day, as we live our lives.

Dr. Alfred D’Souza said:

“For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin—real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way. Something to be got through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.”

In today’s world, we are often so busy making a living, that we forget to make a life.

In the midst of our busyness, we don’t have time to notice if we are happy or not. We tell ourselves we’re too busy to be happy—when the to-do list is finished, and my problems are solved, then I’ll have time to do the things that make me happy.

I was busy earning a living, in the hope that one day, I’d be rich enough to enjoy life. I figured, when I’d earned enough to stop working, then I would have time to enjoy life.

I found myself thinking—when this problem is sorted, I’ll be happy. But, of course, then another came along. For example, I’d always wanted to live by the beach, but even when I acheived that, I was on to the next “I’ll be happy when…” thought.

I’ll be happy—once I’ve lost a bit of weight…once I get myself fit…once I’ve secured that promotion…

There was always something preventing my life from being just how I wanted it to be, and I felt like happiness had to be postponed until that point—which of course never arrived.

During this time I missed all the moments of happiness scattered throughout my daily life. I was taking too much for granted. This hit home to me when my cousin was in a serious car accident, and the “I’ll be happy when…” became things like—when he opens his eyes…when he’s breathing unaided…when he’s talking to us. 

This put things into perspective, and it made me realise how much we take for granted.

I often hear people say, “When I retire, I’ll…”

They allow life to pass them by, and they work hard up until that point—in the belief they will have the time and money to enjoy life in the future. For many of us, this is decades away, and for some it never arrives—or when it does, we may not be well enough to enjoy the time we’ve waited so long for.

In the meantime, we work all hours and sacrifice things like time with the kids, social gatherings and time with our partners—so one day, when it’s all over, we might get a shot at being happy.

Perhaps it’s our current situation that postpones our happiness—maybe we have sick relatives, we’re waiting for the kids to grow up, or we’re waiting for a financial windfall. We wait until conditions are perfect—once I’ve met Mr Right, lost weight, bought a house by the sea and secured a promotion—then I can be happy.

Whatever it is we’re waiting for, we’re also waiting for happiness, and often our happiness is dependent on things that will never materialise. (That lotto win and the ideal partner, for example!)

We put off our happiness until conditions are perfect, but what we don’t realise is—conditions never will be perfect.

There will always be some issue or problem happening, but along the way, there will also be lots of sweet and happy moments sprinkled into our lives, and that’s what we should learn to appreciate.

Of course, it’s not only the focus on our destination and waiting for perfection that postpones our happiness. You see, rather than believing we can be happy and content with what we have, we constantly strive for more.

By the very nature of always looking ahead, for something to be happy about, we forget about the things we already have that bring us joy every day.

As French writer, Colette, put it:

“What a wonderful life I’ve had! I only wished I realised it sooner.”

I spent 30 years putting off life, whilst I figured out what it is that would make me happy. I knew that once I figured it out— then I’d really start living my life. But that’s already happened, and it continues to happen every day.

It’s not about a destination we arrive at—it’s about the journey along the way.

So stop postponing happiness for until a time that will never arrive, and begin to notice it every day in your life.

Ensure you’re creating a happy life today, because that is life—we are living it now.

Life doesn’t wait and neither should your happiness.

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Relephant: 

Busy is the New Black.

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Author: Jess Stuart

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

Photo: Flickr/PROHartwig HKD

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Jess Stuart