Think of everything in your life you expected would bring you lasting happiness.
WHEN I get the promotion, THEN I’ll be happy.
WHEN I buy my second home…
WHEN I make multiple 6 figures…
WHEN I have a family…
WHEN I lose 20 pounds…
…THEN… I’ll be happy.
The list goes on. The “WHEN, THEN” statements evolve. Even if THEN happens, it’s often just a matter of WHEN until that feeling of emptiness returns. Happiness can seem so fleeting.
The reasons why this happens are simple:
1. You’re using these accomplishments to fill a void. But they aren’t actually changing your mindset – your perspective of the world.
2. The “THEN” isn’t actually what you wanted. You wanted to feel a certain way, which you maybe felt temporarily, until it wore off, and the next “WHEN/THEN” was born.
If you live in the “WHEN X happens, THEN I’ll be happy” loop, you’ll always be chasing the next thing, rather than enjoying the current moment. You may even be chasing things that don’t really matter to you. For example, you may want to feel successful and so you buy a luxury car, only to realize that you still feel like a failure, only now with fancy rims.
It’s like this: If you’re not consistently lifting weights or challenging your muscles, you’re not building physical strength. And, like physical strength, building mental muscle takes time, focus and energy. Without mental fitness, it feels so hard to move through and live with feeling anxious, frustrated, unhappy, bored, stuck, etc.
This way of thinking is why diets often fail. The motivation wears off. Even if it worked and the milestone was reached, over time it becomes easy to fall back into old habits – the ones that we resolved to change. It’s the strong mental muscle that was needed to sustain the change over time.
Neuroscience has proven that our brain isn’t “fixed”. Rather it’s plastic, meaning it changes throughout our lives. We can build new neural pathways, allowing us new ways of operating. When we practice using them over and over, we strengthen the new pathways while weakening the old ones. Simply put, when our habits stop working for us, we can change them, with practice! That brain plasticity can even be seen in an MRI!!
So, if you’re searching for happiness, stop thinking “when” and “then”. Rather, let’s work on your mental fitness so that you can lift what your personal and professional life will throw at you with ease and peace. Let’s break the habits that aren’t working for you and build new and sustained ways of living and working.
Care to join me in the mental gym? I’ll lovingly high five you and kick your ass at the same time.
*The information provided is not intended as mental health advice, and individuals facing mental health concerns are encouraged to seek assistance from a qualified medical professional.