I'LL BE HAPPY WHEN . . .
"Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be."
-- Abraham Lincoln
In my work as a retirement planner, I meet lots of people who are not so happy today but who expect to be completely happy once they finally retire. I have my doubts.
I understand that some jobs are very grinding, and I recognize that some bosses or co-workers are a royal pain to be around. Thus, leaving such a caustic environment could definitely improve one's quality of life. But once the short-term euphoria of not having to work in those conditions has dissipated, I suspect those folks will soon find something else that makes life unpleasant for them. Then they will be waiting for that to go away so they can finally be happy.
The notion some people have that they can't be happy until such-and-such happens is a pattern that unfortunately sticks with them wherever they go. Waiting until __________ [whatever, fill in the blank] before they can finally be happy robs them of happiness today.
This is not to say that we can't look forward with eager anticipation to upcoming milestones like retirement, a nice vacation, or a special holiday. Nor does it mean that when life throws us a body blow, we shouldn't take a few days to absorb it and regain our equilibrium. But neither alternative should knock us off our innate sense of loving life as it comes.
I couldn't say it better than did writer Crystal Boyd:
"We convince ourselves that life will be better after we get married, have a baby, then another. Then we are frustrated that the kids aren't old enough and we'll be more content when they are. After that we're frustrated that we have teenagers to deal with. We will certainly be happy when they are out of that stage. We tell ourselves that our life will be complete when our spouse gets his or her act together, when we get a nicer car, are able to go on a nice vacation, when we retire.
"The truth is, there's no better time to be happy than right now. Your life will always be filled with challenges. It's best to admit this to yourself and decide to be happy anyway. Treasure every moment that you have.
"Stop waiting until you finish school, until you go back to school, until you lose ten pounds, until you gain ten pounds, until you have kids, until your kids leave the house, until you start work, until you retire, until you get married, until you get divorced, until Friday night, until Sunday morning, until you get a new car or home, until your car or home is paid off, until spring, until summer, until fall, until winter, until you are off welfare, until the first or fifteenth, until your song comes on, until you've had a drink, until you've sobered up, until you die, until you are born again, to decide that there is no better time than right now to be happy."
I like to be around people whose lives are filled with challenges, but who've decided to be happy anyway. I enjoy working and worshiping and socializing with folks who've determined that there is no better time to be happy than right now.
I relish spending time with people who've chosen to adopt Groucho Marx's attitude: "I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn't arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I'm going to be happy in it."
To that I say, "Amen."