“I Will Be Happy When…”

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” — Lao Tzu
Today, we explore accepting our circumstances. When we tie our happiness to some future event or circumstance, we are denying ourselves to experience the possibilities of our current situation.

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“I Will Be Happy When…”

How often do we say that?

I will be happy when… I get a new job.
I will be happy when… we get a bigger house.
I will be happy when… I get that next promotion.

So often, we are convinced that some future situation will be just the right situation to make us happy.

And then, how often are we disappointed when we get there, only to find out that it’s really something else that will make things better?

The reality is that things are rarely exactly how we want them, and at times, our circumstances are not what we want them to be at all.

For instance, there are circumstances in my life right now that I truly did not choose nor are they what I want.

I have to confess that there’s a part of me that rails against these circumstances, a part of me that wants to be a victim, and a part of me that is saying “I will be happy when…”

But, guess what? Those parts of me are just going to make me unhappy NOW!

A friend recently emailed me this quote:

Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.

— Lao Tzu

Don’t resist them. Accept them.

Yes, this month’s theme is acceptance, and today is all about accepting circumstances – including the weather!

The more we resist our circumstances, judge them as bad or horrible, and complain about how miserable we are, the more miserable we will be.

And not only we will be miserable, but we will lose the opportunity to see the value, beauty, and gifts that are right in front of us.

Resisting our circumstances costs us a lot more than we realize.

Here are just a few of the opportunity costs associated with resisting the situations in our lives that we would like to be different:

  1. We are unhappy and in pain.
  2. We often complain about them a lot to others, causing them discomfort too.
  3. We reduce our ability to see gifts in the situation that we might not receive otherwise. In other words, we fail to make the best of the situation while we’re in it.
  4. We limit our thinking so that we miss opportunities to creatively change the circumstances, even when they are right in front of us. Negative thinking always reduces our higher cognitive functioning.
  5. We probably get stuck in the situation for longer than we need to be because we’re spending more energy on being unhappy than doing what we need to do to change it.
  6. We lose opportunities to enjoy life and continue to live life fully.

Now, as I said, there’s a huge temptation to wallow in our misery when our circumstances are less than ideal. Believe me, I’ve been tempted. In fact, I’ll admit that I’ve even given in a few times.

So, even though I’m not crazy about some of the circumstances in my life right now, I have a choice: wallow or be happy anyway.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be happy anyway.

The circumstances will change. I know that. But why lose my enjoyment and use of that time until they do feeling sorry for myself, wishing for things to change? That will only extend the time until things do change.

Just like fully accepting yourself, fully accepting your circumstances is the fastest way to change them. It sounds counterintuitive, but it’s true.

So, what circumstances are you resisting? Try accepting them, if only for a day or a week…

You might just find that they aren’t as bad as you think. 😊

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