A few years ago, I was working with a client who was launching a new startup in the tech space. She had been working on it for a long time and it was a nearly constant source of stress and anxiety.
The technology portion had consumed her to the point of pushing many other important areas of her life aside, including her marriage and kids. Many times during consulting sessions, she would say, “I’ll be so happy when this this business finally launches,” to which I would respond, “Yes, you will, and then the next chase of achievement will rise up and consume your life.”
Similar to me, my client was addicted to busy. At the core, she believes her pursuit of “X” will solve her deepest problems. She had been infected with the deadliest disease of all.
The “I will be happy when” syndrome.
While her comment may have been tiny, the roots sink deep into her soul. For you it might be, “When I find a good man, I'll be less lonely” or “When I lose weight, I'll be more confident” or “If I had a job I loved, my life would be perfect”.
While these are all good things, reaching these external goals will never provide you internal happiness. And moreover, they will not heal the brokenness inside.
This is a disease of ruthless comparison and where our authenticity, our abilities, our bodies and our story are never enough.
If you can't be happy where you are, with what you have, you never will.
True happiness is only found in the contentment of loving who God made you to be. The you with flaws, the you with a chain of broken relationships, the you with divorced parents, the you in a size 8, and the you who doesn't make $100,000 per year.
My challenge to you is this…
Be happy today. Be content with your life now. Stop trying to heal your inward brokenness with outward success. No job, or person, or implant, or promotion, or house will ever heal the disease behind them. Seek healing through counseling, be vulnerable with a friend, and ask the hard questions of why you do this?
I believe my point is summed up nicely in this clip with Alanis Morissette, who obviously struggled with the same issue.
In the end, it’s about asking the question, “Why am I chasing this? Why do I believe achieving ‘X' will make me ‘Y'?” And the harder question, “Can I be happy without them, or it, or that?” We can’t control the future; we can’t control the outcome of most events in our lives. But we can control our happiness. And when we're happy with the real thing, there is rarely a need for “X”.
Do you struggle with this disease? What are you hoping will make you happier? What has helped? Let me know in the comments below.