“Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present.” – Jim Rohn
While attending a networking event recently I was totally taken back by the words I heard from a person standing next to me,
“I’ll be happy when… I get a boyfriend.”
The words themselves did not surprise me; I hear them all the time, especially from people who have not yet discovered who they are or the confidence they truly possess. What really stunned me was the person who spoke those words – they came from a lady who calls herself a Relationship Coach; a specialist in the area of personal development and relationship dynamics.
My immediate thought was pretty judgmental – “I really need to help this woman, how can she call herself a Coach?” But then I paused and considered my own life. My second thought was one of reflection. I had to examine myself to see if I might be subconsciously guilty of the same thing; perhaps not verbalizing those thoughts but feeling them and at times unknowingly giving them power over my life. Those deceptive thoughts that tell you your life will be better when…
How about you? How many times do you use the words, I’ll be happy when…
- I’m Married/Divorced
- My Business Succeeds
- I Get That Promotion
- I Lose Weight
- I Have More Money
When your happiness, contentment, or well-being is contingent on someone or something else, you have given away all of your authority to a source you have no control over. This is a mental trap that leaves you powerless and locks you into not one but two prisons.
2 Prisons That Hold You Hostage
The first prison is a prison of time; one in which you are locked in limbo until an unspecified factor or person, something other than yourself, decides when you are released.
The second prison is a prison of dependency; one in which you have willingly surrendered the key. You have to rely on some arbitrary person or event to unlock the door and rescue you.
Neither prison is empowering; both are constraining. You must be careful because even if you are not guilty of expressing these words out loud; you may be subtly feeling them and these thoughts can be influencing your behavior.
What’s at Risk with this Mindset?
People who hold this mindset typically lack confidence in themselves which reflects a poor self-image. They employ a fixed rather than a growth mindset and are perceived as “needy” rather than confident and assured in themselves and their abilities.
If you believe these words to be true, you are actually decreasing your chances of living a significant, fulfilled, happy life.
How can you avoid falling into the prison traps?
Let’s look at some concepts that will help you shift your mindset, seize ownership of your thoughts, and increase your confidence.
5 Strategies to Avoid Being Held Hostage
1. Seek Contentment
Contentment is a healthy acceptance of where you are in life right now. Gratitude is a vital key to unlock the door to contentment. When you cultivate a mindset of gratitude, a world of possibilities and opportunities open up for you. You acquire a new optimistic lens from which to view your circumstances. You accept where you are in life without carrying the negative baggage of complaining or feeling resentful about your current situation.
Many people resist contentment because they confuse it with complacency. This, however, is flawed thinking. Contentment does not equate to complacency. Complacency is the mindset that believes that being “good” is enough; this is settling for mediocrity.
Contentment also doesn’t mean you stop growing. To the contrary, there are limitless possibilities available to you when you are content; when you stop wishing for something else or hoping for something to be different.
2. Live in the Present Moment
Living life in the present is a valuable skill – one that when honed can become a powerful, life-changing habit. When you live life in the present, you stop projecting your happiness into the future. Living in the moment is where you are able to connect with your senses and savor and relish life at a higher level. Connecting with your senses and living in the moment is where you live life fully alive.
When you live life in the present, you also increase your mindfulness and most importantly you stop overthinking; you silence the incessant inner voices that play in your head and turn down the chatter.
By embracing the present moment, you also stop equating a future event or person with your happiness or well-being.
Mindfulness reveals the powerful truth that being fully present right now is all that matters. Practicing mindfulness also increases your focus and clarity; something greatly lacking in today’s distracted world.
3. Strive to Develop an Independent Spirit
An independent spirit is one that does not operate out of neediness. People who are independent face life’s challenges with a tenacious will. They understand they are not perfect, they are aware of their strengths and weaknesses yet they are determined to find a way to come out on top.
Independent people are not afraid to be alone; they thrive on their independence because they know who they are and what they are capable of doing. People with independent spirits are not people pleasers; they know when they’ve had enough and assuredly know when to say no.
4. Stop Looking to Your Circumstances to Make You Happy
We all have a tendency to let our circumstances define us and weigh us down. When we do this, we use our circumstances as an excuse to not reach the success we want or to attain the happiness we so desire. The truth of the matter is – your circumstances are not the brick wall you keep hitting; your perception of your circumstances is the wall.
Research indicates that your circumstances only influence 10% of your long-term happiness. Most people have that in reverse, they give their circumstances so much weight that it brings them down. Instead of giving undue credence to your circumstances, take into account your strengths, seek possibilities and practice optimism.
The best way to change your circumstance is to change your perception of them; to re-frame how you view them. I always encourage myself, my clients, and my kids to see the opportunity in every situation and the gift that results from challenges. Ask yourself, “Who do I get to become by having gone through this?” This is true empowerment.
“Happiness does not depend on any external conditions; it is governed by our mental attitude.” – Dale Carnegie
5. Recognize that Happiness is a Decision
The bottom line is that your success and your happiness is a choice; success and happiness are consequences, not by-products. Resilient people, those who are mentally tough, understand the power that they have over their decisions. The power of choice is one of the greatest gifts you possess. Mentally tough people realize that they have a choice in how they control their thoughts, their behaviors, and consequently their outcomes. The choice is always yours.
Change Your Mindset
Thinking back to the words spoken by the Relationship Coach at that networking event triggered memories for me. There was a season in my life when I too was guilty of projecting my happiness and well-being into the future; putting my life on hold.
I was a new mom and our family was building a career for the future. This time of raising young kids, investing in the future and sacrificing for it meant that money was tight. We lived from paycheck to paycheck and there were rarely enough funds to make ends meet.
Although I never said, “I’ll be happy when…” because I truly was happy,
I used to say, “My life will be easier when…” which is just as detrimental.
It took me a while to adjust my mindset; to be content and embrace the power of the present moment. I stayed in the prison of time and dependency way too long. I have since discovered the powerful truth that-
“Life doesn’t get easier; you just get stronger.” – Unknown
It is my hope that by sharing these insights with you, you will be free to unlock the door of the prisons that have held you hostage and be empowered to take ownership of your thoughts, feelings, and decisions. Don’t forget that time is a resource you will never get back; you don’t want to waste it in a self-imposed prison.
Decide Today to:
Embrace the Beauty of the Moment
Live a Fiercely Independent Life
Are You Ready to Live a Regret-Free Life?
Your journey matters. Download Transform University’s FREE e-book, The Rise of a Warrior, to:
- Discover an even greater sense of purpose
- Expand your mindset
- Live in your strength’s zone
- Enrich your relationships
- Energize your life
This book shares 5 Powerful Pillars of a Warrior’s Journey. These pillars are the foundational structure of an empowered life and will help you to embrace the principles outlined and apply them to your daily life.
“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger