Are you addicted to the future? Do you tie your happiness to short-term goals? How many times have you associated happiness with the next happy hour, the next orgasm, the next fancy date night out, the next time you get on the scale and realize you’re 5 pounds down?
You say: “I’ll be happy when…” Happy when you find a partner. Happy when you receive a promotion. Happy when you go on vacation.
Don’t get me wrong – there's nothing wrong with wanting those things. They're all wonderful! But things becomes dicey when we unknowingly place the key to our happiness in the pocket of the future.
It’s frustrating – I get it. If we at all feel like we’re not living the life we imagined, it’s easy to get caught up thinking our happiness resides in the next place. But the hard truth is, until we let go of the notion that happiness lies somewhere else, it will never be where you are.
Great. So Now What?
For me, it all started with the conscious effort to stop making plans. Stop making resolutions. Stop setting goals. I simply decided to stop planning and start living. The shift came to me as the New Year approached. I was racking my brain (like I usually do!) about what lofty goals I should set for myself in 2016.
But the truth was, I was tired of chasing goals. I was tired of keeping my eye out on some future date. So just like that, I decided to live like tomorrow doesn’t exist. I got real honest with myself and asked: “If all I have is this day, will it be enough?”
With that new frame of mind, it just seemed silly to waste hours fantasizing about vacations a year from now. It seemed counter-productive worrying about what could be.
I started living with purpose and found contentment. I started telling those closest to me how much I love them. I stole a few more kisses from my boyfriend. I turned off the tv and cuddled up with Lucy (despite her trying to wrangle her way out of my love grip). I took the time each and every day to look around at my life and realize it was enough. I had enough. I am enough.
And just like that, I started to overcome my destination addiction.
You may be reading this and thinking I’m bat shit crazy. You may be wondering how we’re supposed to live our lives as responsible adults if we don’t plan for the future.
And I hear you. But what’s so different about what I’m proposing versus reality? None of us have a crystal ball. None of us know when our time or the time of our loved ones is up. Don’t get me wrong, I want nothing more than to live a long and full life – surrounded by everyone who makes my heart burst with joy. But WHAT IF we lived like there was no tomorrow? Just think about how powerful that can be.
Okay, I Get It. So How Do I Start Living for Now?
Start with what it is you want. Is your goal to start living an active life? Maybe it’s to spend a bit more time nurturing your friendships and relationships. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to dabble in spirituality or religion. Figure out your WHY – whatever it is that motivates you and brings your happiness. And maybe you don't know what that is yet - and that's okay! Just begin taking small, deliberate steps. Abandon the toxic habits of comparing and complaining, and begin purposely living each day so that what you want out of life eventually becomes your reality.
If you’re never read Eckhart Tolle’s book,, I highly encourage you to do so. Over 3 million copies have been sold in the States and I think that's because this book truly does help guide us to live in the present moment and avoid overthinking thoughts of the past or future. One of my favorite excerpts is:
It is not uncommon for people to spend their whole life waiting to start living. Don’t be one of those people.