Are you happy right now?
Posted on 25th February 2015 at 07:30
It’s interesting how often this topic comes up with clients. And, here on the blog too.
It seems that there are so many reasons not to be happy these days. Not only in the papers or news. Just watch your favourite soap opera. Or listen to the conversations going on around you.
Added to this, there’s our very English affliction. The belief that it’s perfectly acceptable to be miserable now in the expectation that when X happens in the future – whatever X is – then we’ll suddenly be happy. Whether it be the latest must have gadget, a new house, losing weight or the love of your life.
But then what? Does that one thing make you happy forever? Probably not. So the whole process starts over again. And again. And again.
If you’ve never taken a step back before to look at this logic, doesn’t it strike you as mad?
Not only making one specific thing responsible for your happiness, however big or small it is.
But to spend so much of your life being unhappy in the hope that, at some point in the future, you’ll suddenly be happy. And this is assuming that you manage to actually get it.
And then repeating the whole process over and over again.
So often we hear patients saying how disappointed they feel about this process. That the thing they thought would magically make them happy, hasn’t. Or, if it has, then not in the way they expected. Or for as long as they hoped for.
Surely there must be an easier – and happier – way to live our lives? Well, yes, there is.
If there’s something you really want, wouldn’t it make more sense to enjoy the whole process? To be happy while it’s a “work in progress”. Andf you do so, surely you’re more likely to be happy – and for longer – when you finally get there.
It seems that so much unhappiness is caused by the struggle inherent in the whole process. Of trying to control exactly what happens and when. Surely it would be easier to be a bit more flexible and let life – or fate, if you prefer – give us a helping hand. So often an unexpected idea works so much better than what you had in mind…
Sounds too radical? Well, as it’s February, let’s look at one of those perennial winter pursuits. Losing weight for the spring / summer holiday / special event.
Traditionally the approach would be something like this. Start with looking in the mirror or getting on the scales. Beat yourself up for having put on weight. Focus on how bad you look and feel. Etc, etc.
Having made yourself feel completely miserable you decide you must lose weight. You set yourself a target and decide you’ll only feel good when you get there.
So the only issue now is how to lose the weight. You come up with a list of good intentions. The only problem is that you don’t want to do any of them. And the struggle starts. But that’s ok, because you’re going to feel good when you get there. Except, you’ll just feel unhappy and resentful throughout the whole process. Seen in this light, is it any surprise so few people succeed?
Let’s now look at a completely different approach. You’ve looked in the mirror – or got on the scales. And, yes, you do seem to have put on some weight. Instead of beating yourself up and setting unreasonable targets, you look at how you can more easily lose weight. In a way that fits in with your lifestyle.
Instead of focussing on what you can’t do – the foods you can’t eat – you look at what you can do. The foods you can eat and different ways of eating that are enjoyable. Other ways of exercising that don’t involve the dreaded gym; perhaps swimming, a dance class, a walk with friends from work at lunchtime. Being open to other options and possibilities.
Doesn’t the whole process feel completely different?
Much easier. It’s about being happy now, while you move towards something you want. Of living now, rather than putting it off to an unspecified point in the future.
Life really doesn’t have to be difficult or a struggle. We have just been programmed to make it that way.
So why not try our more radical approach? Be happy now and when you get what you want. It really can be that simple.
As always, the choice is yours.
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