Hi, I’m Merry, and I live in the future.
No, I’m not a time traveller, though that would be super cool.
I just can’t seem to stop thinking about, worrying about, and planning for the future.
To the point that I’m almost never enjoying the now. And that’s a problem, because now is really all we have.
I’ve always been this way, since I was a kid. Anxious for the future, always waiting for the next big thing, planning the next event, wishing for the day to come that I’d finally be happy, satisfied, and able to enjoy the fruits of my labor.
When I was little and would say things like, “I wish it was summer” or “I wish it was Saturday,” and my dad would say, “Don’t wish your life away.”
It took several years for the wisdom of that to sink in, but I don’t think I ever really took it seriously.
The other day I caught a line in a podcast that said something like, most people get more happiness and satisfaction from planning a vacation than actually going on vacation.
It stopped me in my tracks as I thought, wait a minute, am I doing that with my whole life?
Practically every second of every day I’m focused on the future. From simple things like wishing the work day was over so I could finally go home to more complex things like wishing my student loans were paid off so I can finally feel that relief, freedom, and thrill of being debt free.
I’m constantly delaying my happiness for some time in the future when everything will be perfect and I’ll finally have all that I’ve ever wanted.
I’m still wishing my life away, all these years later.
I’ve been reading The Power of Now and really trying to internalize the meaning of this book. It’s brought to light the fact that I’m almost constantly looking forward to something instead of just enjoying now.
A major focus of this book is about how the majority of us are consumed with regret for the past and anxiety for the future, without ever focusing on right now. The present is truly all we have. The past is a memory, and the future is a mystery.
When we lived in the middle of the city, I was always dreaming of the day we could finally move out to the country. Every single day I was looking forward to that moment I’d be free of the noise, crowds, and stink of the city.
Now we do live in the country, and how often do I really, truly enjoy it? Not enough.
We work these things up in our heads, build them up to grandiose levels that real life can never live up to. We delay happiness and contentment for “when I have…” or “when I’m finally…” fill in the blank.
But you never really, truly hit that point, ever.
You do the thing you’ve always wanted to do… hit the goal, buy the house, go on that dream trip, pay off the loan, but once you’re there you realize you still aren’t happy, so you start planning for the next big thing, because surely the next big thing is going to be the one that’s going to make you happy.
The happiness target is always moving and you’re never going to hit it.
Because you have to be happy NOW. Now is all you have. Literally, now is it.
Find the happiness in now.
Even if you’re sitting in your shoebox apartment eating popcorn for dinner and ranting about the loud people arguing in the shoebox above you.
Because someday, oddly, you’ll look back on these miserable times and have a weird nostalgia for when you were poor and happy, while at the same time having a dream of someday being rich and happy, but not just being happy NOW.
Let’s work on being happy now.