I’ve had several revelations over the past month. Not grandiose revelations, but rather simple, “duh” ones. Mercifully, they haven’t been accompanied by condemnation, but rather gratitude. I’m so thankful for simple yet profound revelations that make life 10 times for enjoyable.
One such revelation: I’ve avoided the money trap my whole life. Meaning, I know that being rich wouldn’t make me happy. Sure, having enough to pay your bills, save, and enjoy life is crucial to well-being, but I knew that money couldn’t make me happy in and of itself.
All this time I’ve been patting myself on the back for so cleverly avoiding the money trap, totally oblivious that I was ensnared in another – the “if/then” trap. Sure, money couldn’t bring me bliss, but if___, then___, and then I would be happy. When I pay off my car, when I learn the drums, when I teach a university class…guess what? All of those have come true – I’m literally living my dreams – but they don’t make me happy. This then leads to guilt, confusion, and a scramble to find something else that will make me happy.
It’s a total trap. Happiness is no more dependent on circumstances or accomplishments than it is on money. But I wasn’t just chasing after an elusive future happiness – if I achieve ___, then I will be happy. I was also making myself miserable by applying if/then to my past. “If only I had said that instead, then I would have gotten the outcome I wanted.” “If only I hadn’t done that, then this would have happened, and everything would be great.”
What I was thinking last night as I drifted off to sleep was inspired by Semisonic’s “Closing Time”: “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” We talk about “someday” a lot – someday I’ll get there, someday I’ll be the person I want to be, someday I’ll be happy. How differently would we live if we remembered that today is yesterday’s “someday”?
Spending the present if/then’ing my past and my future isn’t getting me anywhere. Instead I’m stuck beating myself up over past perceived failures (or what I could’ve done better) or longing for a day when I’ll be happy.
But I realized, as simplistic as it is, that no matter, I can be happy today. I can be happy because I’m completely and utterly loved, accepted, approved, and romanced by my Creator. I can be happy that in Him I have all I need, and anything else – work, dreams, accomplishments, relationships – just add to my happiness. They’re not the sole contributors. I can wake up in the morning thinking of my to-do list or bemoaning the monotony, or I can wake up excited for the adventures and love notes God has for me that day. I’m not so naïve that I think this won’t require work at switching my thinking. I’ve been in the habit of thinking one way for a long time, and it’s going to take practice forming a new habit. But I’m pleased with the results so far, which will only motivate me to keep going!