Do you often find yourself thinking “If only…”? I know I have!
If only I had a different job, I wouldn’t be so stressed.
If only I could lose 10 pounds, I’d be happy.
If only I made a little more money, I could be happier.
Today’s world is ever-changing. Technology is constantly bringing forth new gadgets and gizmos that are supposed to make our lives easier and more fulfilled. But are we?
A lot of us look at our past with rose colored glasses. We reminisce of yesterdays when it seemed life was easier; we were more carefree. But were we? Really?
I’m of the opinion that we aren’t and we weren’t. I’ve come to believe that our happiness is based solely on our thoughts and feelings in relation to our current situations. Back in 2011, I found a great post (whose author has since been forgotten) that describes our “feelings” and how they can determine our happiness…
Think of your feelings as your children. You made them. Sometimes they are pure joy. Sometimes they give you grief. But you are the parent and the one who sets the rules. Sometimes, in the proper environment, you let them go wild. Sometimes you have to rein them in. You don’t ignore them of course. You let them be. But they have to follow your rules.
Whenever your feelings start to get the best of you, try to remember this metaphor: If you let your children rule the house, you’re going to have a pretty chaotic house. But if you ignore them or refuse to let them express themselves in any way, your family won’t be healthy and you won’t be doing your job as a parent.
If you begin to feel your mind leaning toward the “If only…” try to stop yourself and reframe the thought. “If only I could lose 10 pounds, I’d be happier.” could become “I may need to lose a few pounds, but darn it, I’m alive and able. I have the opportunity to change this.” Every day we are in control of the choices that determine our happiness and every situation we are facing can be looked at with at least two perspectives. This doesn’t work everytime, but I’ve found that in the time span that I’ve been focusing on trying to do this that I am far better prepared to handle any situation life throws at me. As time goes on it has gotten easier and easier to replace any possible negative thoughts with positive ones. But similar to learning any new skill, you have to keep practicing.
One of many teachings I received from a lovely Buddhist monk focused heavily on the topic of our perception of time. She focused on the fact that there is no tangible form of the Past or of the Future. Both the Past and the Future are only in our minds and created by our thoughts. Neither the Past nor the Future can be altered in this moment…. so we must try to live only for this exact second and make it worthwhile. When we look back on our past memories, whether those from 5 years ago or only a week ago, our mind fills in the gaps that have since been forgotten. In the moment that we lived the “past experience” we may have had a very different feeling than we do now thinking back. We cannot truly know if things were ‘better’ then versus now. We cannot assume that the future will be any “better” than the now. The only control that we have is in our perception of this very moment.
What will you choose in this moment? Will your children run the house or will they follow your rules?