I’ll Be Happy When Syndrome

It is a common struggle to say to ourselves “I will be happy when (fill in the blank),”

  • When the kids sleep through the night.
  • When I am in a relationship.
  • When I lose 30 lbs.
  • When I have a baby.
  • When I own a house.
  • When I love my job.
  • When I retire.
  • When I am on vacation.

The list can go on and on and on.  I often make the joke that when you are single everyone asks when are you going to find someone–once you find that special someone, the question is when are you getting married–and then when are you having a child and then when are you going to have another.  It is a dangerous trap always to be looking to the future for happiness.  The temptation to plan for the future is all around us.  If we aren’t happy now, then there is always the future.
It is my belief as with everything in the world–it is about balance. Balancing being in the now.  Noticing as I write this post my dog is curled up next to me on her cozy fresh out of the laundry bed–but also planning for the future, making marketing plans or thinking about where I want to be in 5 years.  Both of those are important.  It is important to have dreams and look towards the future but not at the expense of the present.

Frequently clients come into my office so focused on what they don’t have and stuck in ‘all be happy when’ syndrome that they miss their children growing or the joy they get from their friends or the happiness they find in their job.  One of my first roles as a therapist is to help someone engage in their present while making the necessary changes for their future. I admit sometimes we have to LOOK to find the joys in our lives and sometimes they are pretty small.  I guarantee they are out there.  Even if it is noticing the change of seasons, enjoying a good cup of coffee, laughing with a friend, smiling at your children.  Small joys are everywhere and pull us out of the “I’ll be Happy When Syndrome.”

The ironic thing is many times when the “When” happens it brings other problems.  When we find a relationship, we have to learn how to be in a relationship when we have a child we have to learn how to raise a child, when we get the dream job we have to learn how to do it.  Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet in life there is no magical “When.”  We won’t necessarily be happier WHEN something happens.  So the key is to be striving for our future have goals/have purpose AND enjoy your present.  Don’t miss out on the joys and happiness you have right now in your search for the “When.”  Live Happier Now.