“The past is gone, the future is not yet here, and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment, we cannot be in touch with life.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
It is easy to wish elements of our lives were different. It is tempting to wish for one day in the future, when things will be different, and everything will be better.
I will be happy one day when, ‘I earn more money’, ‘I get thinner’, ‘I meet a partner’, ‘ I get a new job’. You get the gist!
It can be quite addictive to play the ‘One Day When’ game and to believe that when these wishes come true, our lives will be magically transformed and we will finally live a life filled with happiness. Until we feel that we reach that imaginary point we have made up for ourselves, we can feel like we are waiting anxiously for the life we have envisioned for ourselves, which is not yet here.
The older we get, as each day goes by, we wake up and as we realise we don’t have all the things we want, it can affect our enthusiasm. It can start impacting our current situation, as we fixate on the future.
But will we ever really be able to wake up one day and say ‘that’s it, I’m there, I’ve achieved it all, I’m happy!’? It’s highly unlikely. What is more probable is that we will start working towards the next thing and still dream of one day in the future when everything will be perfect.
There are a number of things we can do to stop waiting for ‘one day when’ and be content with our current situation:
1) Live in the moment
If you practise mindfulness and living in the present then you should be able to find it easier to make the most of now. Try to stop looking at a time in the future when things will be different and instead enjoy things as they are today. Put all your focus on what you are doing right now and how to be happy with that. If you concentrate your efforts on being happy with what you are doing each day, it can help you stop focusing too much on the future.
2) Plan for the future
Whilst you are enjoying the present, you can also plan for the future. There is a difference about planning for the future and fixating on it. If you want to change things, take action towards making that change, just don’t make it the only way to find happiness. Having a plan, can help you relax in the present, as you can feel that you are striving towards where you want to be, but prevent the anxiety associated with not yet being there.
3) Focus on enjoying the journey
Rather than focusing on the end goal, switch your focus to relish getting there. Enjoy the path that you are taking. Put all your efforts towards the journey and have faith that if you enjoy that, you will achieve the end goal when it happens. This mindset change will allow you to be happy without reaching big goals that you set yourself. The knowledge that you are working towards them can provide you happiness, rather than only feeling satisfied if and when you achieve them.
4) Make decisions that make you happy
Make a list of all the things that make you happy and all the things that make you unhappy. Now, make decisions to live your life welcoming in all the things that make you happy. If you focus your time on the things that delight you and avoid the things that make you miserable, where possible, you should be happy in the moment, rather than longing for one day in the future when you believe everything will be better.
5) Take a reality check
If you are waiting for ‘one day when’, you should probably accept that in reality, there will always be one more thing you need to achieve for you to be happy. The first step towards overcoming this is becoming aware of it. If you know that you will always be striving for the next thing, then you can change your focus. Continue to reach for your dreams, but don’t make them a criteria for your happiness.
6) Appreciate all the small moments of each day
Focus on everything positive that happens each day. Make the most of the current situation. Something that can support this is writing a daily journal. If you take the time to think about and highlight all the positives of the day, it can help you focus on the great things that have happened and appreciate them. Writing them in a journal is a good way to appreciate them.
I’d love to hear whether you play the ‘One Day When’ game and whether you have been able to find happiness in the present moment and how.