When this pandemic is over… If only my friend would feel better again… When I go on holiday… If only the politicians would take the environmental issue seriously… When I get well… If only my husband would realize… When I get that job… If only we would win the bidding… When I’ve earned enough money… If only I would know the kids would grow up and be okay…
You probably recognize this. I would guess that some of those thoughts have been spinning in your head too. It’s so easy to think like this. If only… or When only… Sometimes it’s true of course. That when only that big obstacle is out of the way, we will feel better. If only that circumstance changed, everything would change. Sometimes, but usually not.
Most often we get there eventually; the pandemic is over, the friend is feeling better, the holiday is here, the environmental issue is taken seriously, we get well, the husband realizes, we get the job, win the bidding, earn enough money, the children grow up and they’re okay. But everything isn’t miraculously good, simple and hassle-free all of a sudden. Because we’ve found new things to worry about, to be angry about, to wish away or wish for.
There is no ‘there’ there. We never get to that point when we reach the goal and we just flow through the rest of our lives. Life goes on, all the time. And our brain is good at searching for problems. And everything is relative. Our problems are given about the same amount of space, no matter how big they actually are.
My intention is not to have us all feel low about this and give up. On the contrary. This realization has given me so much freedom and trust. Sure, I have problems, we all have. But I don’t have to postpone my whole life just because there are challenges along the way. I can allow myself to put the problem aside sometimes and just enjoy the grass under my feet, the good food, or the warm hug. Now.
Our negativity bias helps us to keep track of our problems and worries, so that we don’t forget about them. But you know what, it’s okay to forget sometimes, it’s okay to just be with what is, despite all of your challenges. You can actively choose when to address your problem and actually do something about it. Create a plan, feel a feeling, have a conversation, get it all out on paper. And in between, live your life. Here. Not there.
Of course, this is not easy, but the most important thing is that you know it’s possible. So you can start practicing. Presence. Gratitude, acceptance, trust, self-compassion and joy.
I’m currently writing my next book on this topic. Because I know what a difference it makes in our lives, to be able to make this inner shift and live here and now. Instead of there and then. But, believe me, I’m not done. I also practice. Every day. But it’s worth it. To move life here so that we can enjoy our lives now and allow the summer to be felt all the way into the marrow.
This is a guest post. Any opinions expressed are the writer’s own.