a life lesson, a coaching gem, a question to get you thinking–what better day than monday for a positive post?
A six pack.
An expensive car.
No more debt.
What am I talking about?
These are all ways to finish the “I’ll be happy when…” thought I know we all think sometimes.
Last week, I was on a lovely vacation with my family in the mountains of BC.
We were pretty busy but not busy enough to stop me from getting into my head one too many times and catching myself thinking those kinds of “if only…” thoughts.
These family vacations are annual occurrences and they always involve beautiful places, lots of good food, quality time, and me getting spoiled. Two years ago, I was on one and can remember thinking how even though it was pretty darn good, it would be better if only I had company of the male persuasion.
This time around, I’ve got the company of the best boyfriend a girl could ask for, but the if only thoughts still crept in, this time around if only I could run or hike (I’m dealing with a foot injury that’s slowing me way down) and if only I had a “better” body.
But this time around, I’m calling bullshit.
If you’re in the habit of finding and focusing on what’s missing, you’re missing out on what’s really here. Getting into the trap of if only thinking is a sure way to feel like things aren’t, like you’re not, like your life isn’t…good enough.
And that’s a crappy place to be.
When we tell ourselves we’re not/things aren’t good enough—like we do when we start the if only tape in our heads—of course we’re going to feel bad.
Need an example?
Lucky for you, I’ve got the real life situation that inspired this post for just that.
Last week, I had the option of focusing on not being able to run/hike on my vacation, which inevitably upset me and made me cranky, which of course made me bad company and took away from the trip. Alternatively, I had the option of focusing on the quality time I was spending with my family, the other things I could enjoy on the trip (rope swings require very little use of a sore foot, for the record), which was a much cheerier way to look at things.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get down in the dumps a bit last week (before coming to this conclusion of course) or that switching the perspective was easy or natural. But difficult as it was, it did feel good. Rather than focusing on what’s missing, shifting to gratitude and appreciation for what’s present is a recipe for feeling content and blessed.
I’m going to sum this one up in the words of Oprah (and you know this woman’s got it figured out), “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never have enough.”
A reminder to go along with this post is that we can’t find happiness in things. That car, that six pack, that whatever isn’t the route to a good life. Once we get whatever it is we’re after, we will just replace it with another thing to chase. Want off the hamster wheel? The trick is to enjoy and appreciate where we’re at and what we have, even while we move forward in our lives.
The next time you catch yourself tuning into the if only channel, I challenge you to ask yourself a few questions: What can you appreciate about where you’re at? What would open up for you if things/you were good enough?*
*Accepting that we’re “good enough” can be scary because it can sometimes be wrongly regarded as “giving up.” In truth, acceptance doesn’t mean that we won’t try to improve ourselves or our situations. Instead, it lets us feel good about ourselves while we make those improvements.