Conditional Peace and Happiness
If peace and happiness rely on getting what we want, not on what we have, we won’t be happy now, and we probably won’t be happy when we get what we want.
I have been playing around with this idea for a while now and want to share what I have come to understand about myself and about wanting something and having to wait. Now this is not something I have mastered in anyway; in reality I have spent a good deal of time in the realm of conditional happiness, thinking that happiness will come when I get what I want. This was most prevalent when I was trying to conceive and year after year past but I still didn’t get pregnant. I kept thinking that if only I would get pregnant and have a baby, then I would really be happy. The thing is, I missed out on enjoying the present and what I already had. Believe me, I know that in the thick of the sadness of miscarriage, or another negative pregnancy test, the idea of being happy was far from mind. I also know that when I practiced an attitude of gratitude in other areas of my life, I functioned in a more positive mindset in general and I was able to be at peace with my present circumstance, even if I wanted it to be different.
I also learned that if I held on to the belief that getting what I want will bring happiness, then I was practicing that mindset, and when I did get what I wanted, it was likely that I would be looking for the next thing to bring happiness instead of enjoying what I had.
This idea translates to many of life’s scenarios, not just trying to conceive. Perhaps its the thinking that I will be happy when I lose those last 5, 10, 15 pounds; if I get that promotion at work; if my relationship with my partner/spouse was closer; if I got those shoes/clothes/car…. For me now, my temptation is to settle into the thinking that if my daughters would only regularly sleep through the night, then I will be happy. But again, if I focus on the losing sleep part, then I miss out on the beauty and sweetness of middle of the night cuddles with my two miracles I thought I would never get.
So what does this mean practically? Does it mean I should never want something else or want my circumstances to change? Of course not. There is nothing wrong with wanting things to be different. The trouble comes when I base my happiness on getting something else. I can still desire change and put energy towards change, but it is also very important to put energy towards fully engaging in my life and being present with a thankful attitude. There are two simple practices of gratitude that I have been doing that have really helped. 1. I set a daily reminder on my phone with an alarm telling me to practice gratitude. 2. When I notice my thinking moving towards negativity and wanting, I take a moment to call to mind things I am grateful for right then. I encourage you to spend some time reflecting on your relationship with happiness and your circumstances and see how you might integrate an attitude of thankfulness in the midst of desiring change.
I would love to hear from you. What do you think of the idea of conditional happiness? How can you move away from that thinking? Leave a comment below