This is a guest post from a therapist friend of mine. She wanted to add her thoughts to my recent posting How Much Longer?. I’m glad she did 🙂
I’ll Be Happy When…
It seems all of us are waiting for something or someone. Right now, as was mentioned recently on Making All Things New, many of us are waiting for Spring.
While looking forward to a warmer month, a vacation, a long awaited homecoming of a loved one, a job offer or even something as simple as a kind word or a phone call, is a good thing, we have to be careful not to postpone happiness or joy.
New research on “success” finds that the hallmark of successful people is their happiness quotient. Happy people are more motivated, more productive and better leaders. The old adage that few would die wishing they had spent more time at the office but instead spent more time loving or enjoying their families has long supported the power and lure of happiness.
So how do we avoid postponing this important emotion and response in our lives? Well first we must correct our thinking, for as we all know, which is the birthplace of our emotions.
As humans, it seems we are naturally drawn to the negative or what is missing. As a marriage therapist, I witness this in full force. It has been said that couples tend to spend “80% of their energy trying to change the 20% they cannot stand in their partner.” In other words, they will not be happy until this is achieved. What results is sadly a lot of finger pointing, hurt feelings and precious moments or even years wasted.
And of course many a parent has had to retrain themselves to applaud the good their children have done as opposed to finding only the flaws in their efforts.
The motivational speaker, Les Brown makes a good suggestion. He states it is more important to focus on “what we have rather than on what we think we need to be successful”.
I think we can substitute the word happy for successful. Isn’t this one of the first lessons we often have to learn about our prayer life and relationship with God?
We learn early on that our wants are not often what God thinks we need. And isn’t that a good thing, for most of us would not choose to stretch in the areas that God seems to arrange for us.
In our capitalist society, the promise of the next great purchase is what supposedly makes for happy people. This definition provides a poor example for our children and those less economically fortunate. Perhaps this is the secret of the great mystics and saints of all ages.
The ever popular St. Francis of Assisi and his brothers displayed sanctity and joy in the midst of their poverty. Similarly, this was the gift of Mother Teresa and her Sisters in the slums of Calcutta.
So make 2011 the year when we no longer postpone happiness, but instead allow joy to spring up in our lives one day at a time independent of our external circumstances. Find out how to make the absolute best of what you have been given, whatever the portion.
And let the cup of joy overflow in our families, our churches and our communities. But until that happens…..well, we can still Be Happy!