Dr Libby says….

Have you fallen into the trap of believing that happiness can only be found in the future?

As human beings, we tend to believe that happiness lies just beyond the horizon of our current circumstances. The pursuit of contentment becomes a distant journey, overshadowed by the illusion that we will be happy when we achieve certain milestones or acquire specific possessions.

The ‘I’ll Be Happy When…’ trap is perilous because there is always more to accomplish. When you live in this headspace, you tend to keep moving the goal posts so that you never really let yourself have what you already have. And when you’re entirely milestone or goal focused, you usually miss what’s right in front of you – the absolute privilege of every single moment of your precious life.

Changing your mindset to always allow for happiness, doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your goals. If this serves you, you can still use those goals as lodestones for your decisions. If you want to buy a house for example, it serves you to keep this goal in the forefront of your mind and consider it when deciding what to spend your money on. Yet, it does not serve you to become so wrapped up in achieving this goal – or be so entirely focused on all the things that aren’t the way that you want them to be right now – that there is no room for anything else to bring you joy. It’s a mindset that not only detracts from our contentedness but also can become a source of stress which inevitably begins to take a toll on our health in the long run.

Breaking free from the “I’ll be happy when…” trap starts with recognising that you’re in the trap in the first place. Consider whether you have any rules around what you need in order to be happy. You may find it helpful to jot them down. It can also help to shift your attention to all of the things in your life that you have in front of you right now – all of the things you’ve worked hard to accomplish to this point as well as the things that you may be missing.

Then there’s the things you naturally have that bring you joy yet you may not be noticing them:

• Belly laughing on the phone with a girlfriend.
• The absolute preciousness of your child’s laugh.
• The adoration of your dog.
• The pure joy of finding a song or a book or a TV show
that you become entirely absorbed by.
• The complete majesty of a clear night sky.

Let yourself have what you already have – it fosters such joy and an enduring energy.


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