“Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” – Abraham Lincoln
I read an article this morning titled 9 Traps You Fall Into That Limit Your Happiness by Dr. Travis Bradberry. One of the nine traps really hit home – Waiting on the Future. The article stated:
“Telling yourself, “I’ll be happy when …” is one of the easiest unhappy habits to fall into. How you end the statement doesn’t really matter (it might be a promotion, more pay, or a new relationship) because it puts too much emphasis on circumstances, and improved circumstances don’t lead to happiness. Don’t spend your time waiting for something that’s proven to have no effect on your mood. Instead focus on being happy right now, in the present moment, because there’s no guarantee of the future.”
Being an INFJ personality type, we tend to be future-oriented and ignore the present. What struck me about that article was the statement – “I’ll be happy when….” I keep telling myself everything will be fine when my pension kicks in. Everything will be fine when I find that special person. Everything will be fine when I finally build that cabin in the mountains. We INFJ personality types tend to be dreamers; we forget to live in the moment. We are in our heads way too much. Not saying this is a bad thing; we need time to ourselves. However, it is unhealthy to be in there too much. It leads to unhappiness.
The problem with waiting on the future is we are not doing anything at the moment that makes us happy; we are so forward thinking we ignore the present to focus on our goals. Before you know it days or weeks have gone by, and you have accomplished little toward your goals. Meanwhile, your level of depression and unhappiness has drastically increased. I am currently in a pretty stressful situation looking for employment. I need to start living in the moment more often, instead of thinking, focusing on the future. I haven’t been truly happy in years. A recent silly moment taught me an invaluable lesson about happiness.
The other night my 8-year-old son sat next to me in the recliner, and we watched Bigfoot videos on YouTube. We would debate which videos we thought were real or fake. Then we started reading some of the comments on the videos. We both laughed so hard that both of us were in tears. I haven’t laughed like that in a long time. Something so ridiculous as reading comments on Bigfoot videos made me realize that my happiness is a choice, not something that comes to me in the future. Its little things like spending quality time with your loved ones. That was an example of living in the moment that I will never, ever forget.
I was happy and enjoying the moment with my son. I completely forgot about my circumstances. We INFJ personalities need to live in the moment more often and get out of our heads. Quit trying to figure out our future every second of the day. Obviously, we need to designate some time for that purpose because that is how we are wired. We need to live more in the moment with an eye on the future; there is no guarantee of a “future.” Just don’t be so future-oriented you forget to live in the moment. The little things in life can bring so much pleasure and happiness.
If you’re reading this do something every day that brings you closer to your loved ones. Go for a walk with your family. Play soccer with your kids. Take your kids fishing. Watch Bigfoot videos with your kids. Do something. In the end, experiences are all anybody ever remembers. My son will likely forget about that T-Rex toy I bought him, but he will always remember our moment with Bigfoot. I know I will always remember that laugh and the lesson it taught me. You choose whether to be happy or unhappy depending on what you focus on in life.
Happiness isn’t necessarily achieved through improved circumstances. Circumstances do not define your happiness; you decide whether to be happy or unhappy. Happiness is achieved by focusing on what truly matters most in your life. Don’t get so caught up in the future that you forget about living in the moment. I challenge you to do something every single day that improves your happiness. Don’t focus so much on circumstances. Quit focusing on what you don’t have, thinking that is what you need to make you happy. Be thankful for everything positive you currently possess in your life.