As humans, we sometimes have a tendency to look to the future with more anticipation than we should.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s wonderful to make plans and be excited about the future. What I’m talking about is more the “grass is always greener” syndrome. We think that things would be better, life would be better, if only… If only we could make it to the next stage of life, the next pay grade, the next major accomplishment.
Yet for so many of us, it seems that the “if only” we’re looking for never arrives.
We forget that each new stage of life, each new accomplishment, brings its own trials and struggles. We are never immune to hardship.
If we wait to live life until things are settled and easy, we will never start really living. Every single one of us is either in the middle of a storm, coming out of one, or about to go into one.
This fact has been challenging me for a long time now. In many ways, I have an ideal life. I have a wonderful husband, welcoming home, amazing friends and family, and a challenging job that I enjoy. Yet in so many other ways, I’m still waiting on the “if only” before I allow myself to be truly happy. If only I didn’t have so many health challenges. If only my enemies would let me live my life in peace. If only I made more money. If only I wasn’t estranged from family members. If only I could travel more.
How do we live a fulfilling life despite the challenges that are thrown at us?
A few months ago, I started a gratitude journal. Since then, I’ve noticed a strong correlation between the number of recent entries in my gratitude journal and my level of happiness. Sometimes we have to make the effort to look for things to be grateful for; but when we make the effort, we’ll always find something. The more things I find to be grateful for, the happier I am – and vice-versa.
Regardless of how difficult life around me is, it is always easier when I’m choosing to look for the good. Regardless of how easy life may seem, it always feels harder when I fail to look for the good.
Happiness is a choice, often one of the hardest choices we’ll ever make. Yet it’s also one of the most important choices of our lives. So today I’m dusting off my journal, picking up my pen, and making the choice to be happy. I’m making the choice to look for the good, to notice the beautiful, to appreciate and treasure the small things.
Albert Einstein once said that “there are only two ways to live your life: as though nothing is a miracle, or as though everything is a miracle.”
For today, at least, I’m choosing to live in the miracle.