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We’ve all said it at one time or another, whether out loud or to ourselves. Or listened to someone else saying it. Perhaps smiled a little ruefully to ourselves at the long list that’s guaranteed to follow these simple words which will, somehow, guarantee our future happiness. Make our lives “perfect” or “complete.” 
Unfortunately, this never quite seems to happen in practice. So, we move on to the next list of things which, we’re sure (!), will ensure our future happiness. And the cycle repeats again and again, with our happiness always being just out of reach, around the next corner. 
Have you ever wondered why this is? 
Well, as so often is the case, there’s a very simple answer. Well, more accurately, two (!) both of which we seem to be completely blind to until they’re pointed out. And there are no prizes for guessing who’s responsible for this convenient blindness, the Little Monster in our heads… 
The first is that it takes our focus away from the “here and now” to some time in the future when our lives will be “perfect” and we’ll be “happy.” Unfortunately, there’s a big flaw with this logic. We don’t live in the future, we live in the now. 
The only place we can affect what happens in the future is now and, unless our focus is kept firmly in the now – the present moment – then nothing can change. Whether now or in the future. So, simply wishing – or hoping – for something different to happen in the future is never going to have the desired effect. 
For some reason, this simple truth often seems to send people into complete mental meltdown. So, we’re going to paraphrase a great quote from the Buddha we came across years ago to make things a bit clearer. It goes along the following lines: 
“The past has gone. Tomorrow has yet to come. There’s only one moment for you to live in and that’s the present. It’s a gift, that’s why it’s called the present.” 
There only being now is a topic we’re written about before and, if you’d like to go a little further down this particular rabbit hole (!), it can be found here
Still with us?!? 
Then we’ll move on to the second flaw in this approach. It’s that everything on the list of what will make us happy is outside our control in some way. 
Perhaps it’s reliant on other people or events panning out in a particular way – which, in the absence of super human powers, is unlikely to happen. Let alone in exactly the way we would like it to. 
Then there are all the things we’d like to change about ourselves which, we think, would make us happy. While it may seem that these are within our control, the harsh reality is they aren’t. And there are no prizes for guessing who is and why they’re doomed to failure (!). 
Some may be things we’re just not committed to, most likely coming into the “should” category. As in, “I should be thin / fitter / more accomplished in this or that way / fill in the blank AND when I am, then I’ll be happy.” 
Others may be things we’re tried to do before but, for whatever reason, haven’t been successful. 
Whichever is the case, the Little Monster in our heads instantly has all the ammunition needed to undermine our best efforts. Whether we haven’t been successful before – so “why bother?” – OR we’re having to rely on willpower, rather than inspiration, to achieve the change with all too predictable results. Again, we’re written before about how very different willpower and inspiration are, the post can be found here
So, what’s the answer? 
Well, as so often is the case, it’s simple yet radical. Keeping our focus – and living our lives – in the present moment. The here and now. This instantly take back control of our minds, as well as calming them down, with no more chuntering about the past or future. Even better, we feel happier and much more in control. 
Then – and here’s the radical bit – accepting that where we are right now, is where we are. And, that’s fine. Yes, we can hear the Little Monster shouting about all the things that are “wrong” with our lives right now. But, if you stop and think about it, there’s absolutely nothing we can do to change what has happened – or not happened (!) – in the past, which has led to where we are right now. The only way to change the future is by what we do right now. This is why keeping our focus on the here and now is so important, which is where acceptance comes in. 
Contrary to popular opinion, acceptance doesn’t mean we have to like – or be happy – about things we don’t like. Instead, it means no longer putting our energy and focus into them. Just letting them be as they choose to be. Put another way, it stops fuel being added to the fire, so making things worse. Once we do this, it’s then much easier to start moving ourselves – or the situation – in the direction we do desire. 
And this is where another word beginning with “a” comes in. It’s “allowing.” Having accepted how things are right now, allowing whatever it is to be different in the future, while being open to how this may be. It’s amazing how quickly and easily things can change, IF we just leave them alone and let them change in their own way. In other words, to stop trying to force them to pan out in a particular way… 
Not only does this change in focus mean we can be happy right now – regardless of what else may be happening in our lives – but it also puts us back in control of our lives for the future. 
Or, put another way, happiness is always an inside job. Now isn’t that better than putting our future and happiness in someone else’s hands? 
As always, the choice is yours. 
Picture by unknown author 
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