Meditation for Modern Life

Mindfulness skills from a well being expert

Living Today vs. “Someday I’ll…”

Are we putting off life and happiness?

The person who normally cuts my hair got sick once, so I had to find a new person to cut my hair. Her salon was right next to my office, so I went there and we started talking. It was quickly apparent that this woman loves what she does. The longer we talked, the more this was definitely confirmed. Even as a young child, she wanted to cut hair.  That’s all she ever wanted to do—cut hair and eventually open her own salon, which she obviously did. She is absolutely passionate about what she does, and she loves it. As she snipped and cut, she told me her mom had once told her that about 90 percent of people who go to work hate what they do, and they do it just because it’s a job and that’s what they have to do to make money. This lady decided then and there, as a child, that she didn’t want to be a part of that 90 percent.  She chose to cut hair because she just really loves doing it, and that’s her passion.

This lady’s name is Lisa, and Lisa’s story is really a good one for us to focus on because we hear so many people often say “Someday I’ll…live”; “Someday I’ll… enjoy life.” So many say things like “I’ll work really hard right now, make lots of money, have lots of prestige, lots of fame…or whatever it may be…and then Someday I’ll enjoy life. Someday I’ll start living.” Many, many people do this and it’s very, very sad because they’re missing out on living life right here, right now. This “someday” way of life doesn’t bring us happiness, and the main reason it doesn’t is because we can never be sure that if we reach our “goal” that it will bring us the happiness we assume we’ll have. It may not. However, if we do what we love and we’re passionate about it, whether we reach our goals or not, we’re going to be happy because we enjoyed the journey. Life, happiness is about enjoying the journey.

I’m not sure if Lisa’s mom was right about the percentages. But I do think a lot of people go to work just because they have to go to work, or they’re working really hard right now so that someday they’ll reap the rewards of all of their hard labor. The thing is, though, there just aren’t any guarantees in life. We don’t know how long we’re going to live. We don’t know, even when we reach our goals, whether getting there will even work for us and make us happy.

Let’s use money, for example. Let’s say we work really hard so that someday we’ll be able to retire and travel and see the world. A lot of people do that, so what’s the problem with it? One big problem is that these people are missing out on life along the way. Another is that, because they’re working so much, they’re missing out on enjoying happiness with those they love, and that can have dire consequences to their lives. Thirdly, this chasing after tomorrow can cause a lot of health problems; and fourth, once they reach their goals, they may not even like it. I mean if it worked, if money were truly the root of all happiness, then everyone who’s wealthy should be pretty happy. I don’t know about you, but that sure hasn’t been my experience with those in the world. I’ve seen many very wealthy people who aren’t at all happy in life.

Let me share another story that really illustrates my point. The person who normally cuts my hair, Ingrid, once told me a story about a couple who was so wealthy that they did everything to the ‘nth’ degree. It was amazing how they lived their life. Ingrid’s husband is a pretty successful photographer, and that’s how she and her husband got the know this wealthy couple. They spent a lot of time with together. Ingrid’s husband photographed this couple’s wedding. And they asked Ingrid and her husband to come along on the honeymoon cruise just to photograph their honeymoon. While they were on this cruise that was so elaborate you couldn’t believe how wonderful it was, this woman who had all this money ordered Beluga caviar. She became so upset when she tasted it because she said it wasn’t Beluga caviar. She got really mad and upset, and she actually let it spoil the honeymoon for her. Now, I don’t want to be critical of this woman because I’ve never even met her, and actually I wouldn’t want to be critical even if I had met her.  But my point is that having a lot of money doesn’t necessarily bring happiness.

I think what brings happiness is enjoying today, enjoying right now, enjoying the journey of our life. On the other hand, what can really keep us from enjoying our life’s journey is that little phrase: “Someday I’ll…” “Someday I’ll be happy.” “Someday I’ll be rich and happy.” “Someday I’ll be successful and happy.” “Someday I’ll find the love of my life and be happy.”

It’s not wrong to have goals and to work towards them. But our goals shouldn’t keep us from living life and doing what we love right now. We can do both. I know not everyone has their ideal job, but since we spend so much time doing work, there are ways we can enjoy our work a little bit more. If we’re a stay-at-home mom, let’s do things that we enjoy and not make everything about sacrificing for our kids. If we go to a job that’s laborious, one that’s hard on us, let’s find a way to enjoy it. Let’s enjoy our lunches, let’s enjoy the people we work with, let’s bring things that make our work better and more enjoyable for us. Whatever we are doing, let’s enjoy it to the fullest, instead of saying “Someday I’ll enjoy this.” None of us know how long we have. There are absolutely no guarantees with life. Of course, we don’t want to live so fully that we end up becoming homeless and not working. That would be silly. However, it’s a matter of finding that balance. Let’s enjoy what we do while we work. That’s really the key to whatever we’re doing in life. The relationship we’re in, can we make it better? The job that we do, can we improve it?

A little bit of improvement over time can drastically affect our overall life. I think what we’ll find is that when we meet people like Lisa, who love what they do and are passionate about what they do, we will find that it really isn’t always about how much money they make. It’s far more about doing what they love, loving what they do, and loving life. I think that’s one of the secrets of happiness: loving life now and not “Someday I’ll…”

I know that sometimes we’re in very difficult situations in life. We may be in prison, we may be diagnosed with cancer, we may be unemployed. There are lots of negative things that can happen to us. But even in those challenging times, there is always something beautiful to be with. Be with that something beautiful. Yes, work towards remedying the negative that’s going on but, when we’ve done our part, then we need to relax and just enjoy what is. There’s always something beautiful to be with; let’s be with that.

The key elements here really are two. One is: We just don’t know how long we have, so let’s not put off living today in hopes for a better tomorrow. Let’s live today. Secondly: Let’s always realize that, no matter what’s happening, there really is always something beautiful to be with. If we believe these two things, then what will happen is that we’ll look for these beautiful things…these beautiful things to be with right here, right now, even with the challenges we face in our everyday life. The important thing is to live now and stop waiting for “Someday I’ll…”

Someday I’ll…” may never come. But if we enjoy the journey of our life and work towards our goals, what will happen is that, even if we don’t reach them, we will have had a good life.

Robert Puff, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist who has been in private practice for over 20 years.

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