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  • Writer's pictureNicole Winkler

"I'll Be Happy When..." Why This Cognitive Process Is Hurtful to Your Growth and How to Restructure

Updated: Feb 26, 2021

Take a moment to finish this sentence: “I’ll be happy when …”

What is your answer? Is it personal, professional, financial? Is it when the weather is cooler and you're not dripping sweat and sticking to everything you sit on, or warmer when you’re not scraping snow and ice off your car? Is it checking a box on your way to a larger goal? Is it achieving that one specific goal?

Will you be happy when you:

  • hit your goal weight

  • complete a course

  • take a much needed vacation

  • complete that looming project at home or move

Or, when you:

  • make x-amount of money

  • complete the acquisition (tangible or intangible)

  • get promoted at work

  • find what you’re looking for in a partner (or they make that one change you just know will fix everything)

Or, will you be happy when:

  • COVID is “over”

  • you delegate the project at work

  • your child is finally sleeping through the night / potty trained / in school

  • you finally get some “me” time

It is likely a combination of things, “I’ll be happy when ______, ______, and ______.”

The reality is, once your quantifiers to being “happy” are completed, new ones will fill in the blanks at lightning speed! There is little to no recognition of the accomplishment. The measure of happiness changes once again.

For some, accomplishing a goal is a rush of adrenaline and the faster a new goal is set, the faster they can feel that rush again. For others, there is no recognition of the achievement and it’s “on to the next.” It shifts from an “I’ll be happy when” mindset to a “I just did what I was supposed to do.”

It’s a vicious cycle that we get stuck in when we are not present, aware, and appreciative of where we are at this moment in time. This cycle leaves little room for happiness because it’s always one, two, or three more steps into the future.

Ironically, those next steps also come with their own set of challenges - and WONDERS if we can shift our mind (aka: restructure our thoughts) to think about and see those. Challenges are usually the catalyst to the reason we don’t think / see / feel happy in the present.

I challenge you with this question, “What do you have to be happy about right now?”

Reflect on the here and now because truth be told - the past is done and the future hasn’t happened yet. This is not to discount goals, aspirations, growth, and development - those are all important - but, to enhance it and be cognizant of the small victories today.

How do you celebrate those accomplishments? For example: you woke up today, you are hopefully healthy today or can do something about it during very uncertain times in a global pandemic, or maybe you had a productive / non-triggered conversation with a team member or family member and you are proud of yourself!

These don’t require “formal” celebrations! Perhaps you keep a daily gratitude journal, share your experience with someone else you talk to today, use the awareness of why you are happy today to connect with someone else. No matter how big or small, these are all ways to restructure your thought process to take control of your thinking and raise your awareness as to why you can be and ARE happy right now.

Tomorrow is not guaranteed to any of us, so I encourage you to be present, aware, and appreciative for today and choose to think and be happy NOW, not WHEN [_..._].

Please Subscribe for the next post: “How Social Media Influences and Affects Your Happiness”

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