Far too often I am reminded of the impermanence of this life, of the fragility, of mortality – especially when someone close in age passes away unexpectedly. I usually spend time trying to get my head around it. We feel sad that someone so young is gone too soon and it is a stark reminder that whatever it is we are putting off may never be realized.
Some may call it motivation…put away the money so you can enjoy retirement. Ok, well, you have to get there. Does that mean you can’t enjoy life now? I’m not saying blow all of your money and savings but why put off joy for 5, 10, 20, 30 years?!
I used to be the world’s worst at saying when ‘this’ happens ‘then’ I can be happy/successful/fulfilled/etc... But the thing is – usually when we arrive at ‘that place’ we aren’t any happier/successful/fulfilled than we were before. Why?
Because we are basing our joy and happiness on an outside circumstance or situation or even a person. If we are not happy on the inside it does not matter what happens on the outside.
Why are some of the poorest people the happiest? Why are some heavy people happy and jovial? How are some people that have experienced loss still going strong? It’s the thoughts we think 1.) about ourselves, our worth and enough-ness, and 2.) what we are making those things mean.
Put two people next to each other. While general characteristics are different, we can agree that they are a human, breathing air like the other, living on the same planet, and for all intents and purposes are created just like the other. But how each reacts to something is very different. The only thing different is their thoughts.
That is the only way to explain that the exact same thing can happen to both and the outcome for each can be so very different.
What I invite you to embrace is that nothing outside of us can make us happy. Nothing on the outside determines our joy. It has everything to do with what is on the inside. This means that we can be happy right now. We don’t have to wait to lose the weight, or get the promotion, or find the perfect mate.
I admit that switching gears can be challenging (but not impossible!). We have been so programmed to seek fulfillment and acceptance from the outside – it begins by pleasing our parents, our teachers, bosses, mates, to be ‘acceptable’. The media and marketing tries to make you think you will fit in or be more accepted when you are this size or have erased the wrinkles or drink this drink.
So if this sounds like a losing battle take heart, my friend. That programming can be re-written – and you don’t have to be a computer genius to do it!
Here are 4 things to begin asking yourself:
1. Do I wholeheartedly desire a change in my way of thinking?
If at a subatomic level you really have no desire to make a change then these things will not work. If you do desire a change – there is then no reason why you will not succeed.
2. What are my current thoughts?
Write out your IF, THEN or WHEN, THEN statements. These will tell you what you are expecting from the outside to make you happy/fulfilled/acceptable. “When I get the new job, then I will be satisfied.” What is keeping you from being satisfied right now? This does NOT mean that you cannot have ambition or a desire to achieve. It will mean, however, that your eternal happiness is not housed solely in this outside circumstance.
3. Begin weighing what you are missing by waiting on your THEN statements.
How can I begin living my THEN statements now? And are they even realistic? What is keeping you from happiness and fulfillment right now and what are you putting off by waiting?
I do like a tidy house. It helps keep my mind clear mentally and I’d rather do a little along the way than have to spend hours cleaning. When I have company (usually my nieces and nephews) a tidy house is a challenge. I’ve tried to keep things picked up along the way and keep the house ‘in order’. However, I began to ask myself, is this time being used wisely? This housework was something that I could put off. It wasn’t worth quality time with the n&n’s.
And we’ve all been there on the weight issue. When I lose this weight, then I’ll be happy and healthy…. There is certainly a health component to that but there is not a happiness component. Is it reasonable or realistic to expect that I am going to fit into clothes I wore 10 years ago? Or am I ready to drop that, buy some clothes that fit and that I feel good in? I have been so stubborn in the past that I have kept clothes that were too small – refusing to buy anything else until I could fit into them again. All this did was keep me feeling sh**ty about myself. There is not any significance to a certain size except in our minds! (and maybe unless we are a model – and I am totally NOT one of those!) So the more realistic thing is to find clothes that make me feel good about me. I don’t have to wait.
Ugh, too simple, right?? Everything is a choice. Even not choosing is a choice. Choose to stop playing into someone else’s idea of what will make you acceptable and learn to accept yourself. Choose what is more important. So is it more important to have a tidy home or play with the kids. No brainer for me! If being healthy and losing weight is what is important (vs the clothes you are trying to fit into) then choose healthy food, healthy thoughts, healthy activities.
Another perspective that really helps me is – If I was on my deathbed, would I be saying ‘oh I wish I had cleaned the house more, worked harder, worked longer, was thinner….’
Choose what matters most – choose what you can feel good about! Let the rest fall where it may.