We all want to be the best version of ourselves. It is in our human nature to strive for the best. We all want the best career, relationship, family, friends, body and everything else in between. This is what makes us so excitingly ambitious, innovative and strong.
The endeavour to live our best lives should never stop.
But what if we’re unknowingly doing exactly that? Somehow, we’re defusing the flame that’s pushing us to live a fulfilling life and reach our goals and potential.
My younger self was in love with the ‘when I… then I will…’ mindset. Growing up, I thankfully left that way of thinking behind. It was stopping me from doing a lot of things and now, I observe it in a lot of my friends, family and colleagues.
“When I buy this bag, I will be happier”, “When I get my dream job, I will enjoy my life more”, “When I am in a relationship, I will stop feeling empty.”
These sayings are very common and unfortunately, unhelpful. Even if we’re not saying it aloud, we can still reinforce this negative thinking in our subconscious.
Our Happy Limit
Thinking about the world this way prevents us from reaching our happy limit. A happy limit is a time and place where we feel contentment and satisfaction. It is usually when all our basic needs have been met and we’re enjoying the nicer, additional fruits of the world. Most of us living in a developed country have already reached our happy limits. Yet, this mindset might actually prevent us from seeing this.
Perhaps we are already happy. Even if we don’t buy that bag. Maybe we just need more appreciation for our other bags that we bought with the same thinking. And remember how we felt taking it out to dinner with us and all the compliments it received?
Everyone desires their dream job. As we work towards it, we definitely can enjoy our lives more now. What if our dream job is actually harder than we think? We might be drowning in paperwork or rubbing shoulders with people we actually don’t like at all.
We set up a vision for our future selves and sometimes, we might actually be living and breathing that fantasy already, we just need to realise it.
We’re Waiting to be Served
A difficult concept to face with this type of thinking is that we’re waiting to be served instead of serving ourselves.
If we’re able to see that this type of thinking is just excuses in disguise, then we’re already halfway there. There is nothing stopping us from being happy, from enjoying life more and from feeling loved. There are infinite other ways to bring about these outcomes, yet we’re focusing on just one linear path that could (it’s not even guaranteed) bring us our desires.
“When I buy new running shoes, I will start running”, “When I start running, I will lose weight”, “When I lose weight, I will feel better about myself”
The potential pitfall of all this is getting caught up in this cycle of wanting and wishing. We really don’t need new sneakers to start running. Running doesn’t mean we’ll definitely lose weight. Feeling good about ourselves comes from core, foundational concepts that go way beyond the size of jeans we fit. Maybe this is our mind’s way of choosing an easier, less anguishing path.
Another important point to consider is that we’re waiting for external factors to bring us our desires. We believe that we’re not worthy of self-pursuit and our inner drive to achieve these things is diminished. Rather, we’re relying on other things and other people to bring us to our goals. A bag might fill our void for a while, but happiness does really come from within. And why are we waiting for another person to make us feel whole?
Even if the goal was something like having more money, or having a nicer lifestyle; if we really wanted it, we would work hard at it. However, the mindset of, “when I win the lottery” or “when I find a rich boyfriend/girlfriend” is more common than we think.
There is nothing wrong with wanting the best for ourselves.
However, the way we think about our goals and desires play an important goal. It frames our mindset, primes our self-drive and motivation.
Rather than thinking “When I… I will…” and letting external factors guide us to our outcome, just drop the first part and think “I will…”
Maybe we’ll realise that we’re already at our happy limit and just need to practice more appreciation, or perhaps there are many other ways to achieve this, starting with ourselves.