This is the most terrifying and freeing thing you will ever realize.
How you feel right now: scared, nervous, wanting more etc.. is how you will feel in the future. Though your life may look different to the observer, you will always be the same you.
This is terrifying because when you realize this, there is nowhere to hide. No title, amount of money or material possession will complete your being. It’s also freeing because you no longer have to wait to be happy. Your happiness can’t be contingent on anything else. It’s up to you right now to be happy.
This is so hard. It’s SO easy to pretend that when you make thousands each month everything will be fine. You’ll feel complete when you can have your own apartment. Maybe you pretend that you’ll finally feel like enough when you become a VP at your company. Or, when you make partner, then you will feel successful.
We imagine these things as if success is around the corner and happiness is something hiding there.
Just like chasing the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, you will keep endlessly searching for that bit of happiness. When we were kids we realized that the gold wasn’t there. Unfortunately, life is often too brief for us to realize that the happiness we’re seeking isn’t hidden in accomplishments.
Happiness is in every moment. It’s not something that is given to us. It’s something that we work on and grow. Through gratitude, appreciation, mindfulness and growth we can practice finding happiness in everything.
The uncomfortable thing about happiness is that it’s not permanent. Happiness is a constant process. We love “set it and forget it” products. We love to buy a subscription and not worry about paying for shipping for a year. Happiness doesn’t work like that.
One vacation to a third world country will not earn you a life full of happiness and appreciation. Your mindset might be different when you step back on US soil, but it will fade just as fast as it came. The only way around this is to maintain a daily practice. Start to develop an awareness of when you’re not feeling happy.
The times when I’m taken out of the moment are often those when I’m thinking about how I need something to feel better. How I need to make more money so I can eat out more without worrying about my bank account. How I just need to get this assignment done and then I’ll feel relaxed. Whoops. Surprise! There’s always another assignment.
For me, I dream about the day where I’ve started and sold a business. The day that I make my millions and never have to work again. I feel like I won’t be me until I can accomplish that. What an absurd thing to think. Who will I be the day after that happens? The same exact guy who didn’t accomplish that, just with more money to spend on who knows what.
These are ego boosters. Knowing that you’re more successful than others is a great ego boost. You can walk into the same parties you’ve been attending and suddenly feel like the man of the hour. Despite all the congratulations in the world, but you’re still the same person. You’re still the same person who is not quite happy. You might be kind of happy, but you’d be really happy if you could just start one more company and sell that one.
I catch myself having these fantasies. I catch myself speeding through my day, mindlessly checking things off my to-do list telling myself that these are the things that successful people do. I tell myself these are the things I NEED to do, even if they aren’t fun.
When I catch myself, I realize that whatever I accomplish won’t change me. I’ll still have the same thoughts on the way to class tomorrow, or the way to work next year.
This is the sobering realization. It’s a realization that today is a perfect day if you want it to be. It’s realizing that you’ve already accomplished enough. It’s a realization that today you are your best you.
It’s painfully hard. It’s scary when there’s nowhere to hide. No contingencies on your happiness. But you have no choice. Your only choice is to believe in yourself right now. You can’t wait until some external indicator tells you that it’s time to start believing. There’s no use in waiting, because you’ll never feel different unless you decide to start.
Start feeling like you’ve done great things. Start realizing that you don’t need to become anything more than you are now. Start believing that you don’t have to worry about what will come next. Start living the life that you would if you weren’t bound by jumping through the next hoop.
You will always be you. Celebrate that because you’re the best you there is.