After I wrote my last article What We Wish For which was all about choosing to be happy, someone asked me a great question. She wanted to know how to be happy when your current life situation wasn’t what you wanted it to be.
The answer is, it’s all about perspective and transition.
You’ll have to agree with me that some people’s lives suck more than others right? Like right now someone is being murdered and would gladly choose your life over theirs. Right now someone is stepping into a jail cell to serve a life sentence and would kill or die for the freedom to work a minimum wage job and live in his parents’ basement. Right now someone is getting ready to be homeless and preparing themselves for those new challenges, and would happily trade places with you.
But it’s about perspective. If you think your life sucks, it means you’ve identified something better for yourself and you simply don’t have it yet. And that’s fine. We don’t have to accept our current circumstances if we don’t like them. It’s normal to want to improve your life situation.
However, while you are IN your current circumstances, you can be happy. And the way to be happy is to be in transition.
Let’s use an example. Let’s say I put you in prison and I tell you that you’re going to be there, doing nothing but rotting, for 15 years. That’s pretty disheartening right? So you sit in prison every day wishing with all your might that you were somewhere else, out of prison, free. And you’re stuck because you’re in prison. The door is locked and you’re not able to leave when you want to. Totally sucks.
Now let’s say I come along and hand you a map and say, “If you can follow this map, you can have your freedom.” You jump at the chance. Anything is better than sitting day after day in prison. I warn you that the map is a little hard to understand, and even more difficult to follow, but that if you persevere and you try hard, you can use the map to get out of prison.
You don’t care how hard it is, you’ve got a chance now! A way out. And even though you are in prison, you’re happier. Why? Because you’re in transition. You have a plan and a way to change your circumstances. It won’t be easy, but you don’t care. It’s a chance and you’re going to take it. The power is back in your hands.
So I tell you now… you are in one of two places in your life. You’re either stuck or you’re in transition.
If you’re stuck it means you’ve given your power to the prison. You are not trying to escape it. You have accepted that you will simply have to serve your time. And you’re more likely to be depressed and bummed about it.
But if you have a plan to change your life, suddenly the prison you’re in doesn’t seem so confining. When you’re in transition, it’s actually easier to be happy with what you used to be very unhappy about. Because you know it’s temporary. It’s merely a starting point to something better.
So if you’re sitting in a career that you hate, or a relationship that you’ve outgrown, or a health problem that is breaking you down, be in transition. Don’t be stuck. Be moving towards something better. Have a plan. Every day take one more step closer to freedom and a life that will make you happy.
Along the way, you can be happy. Happy that you’re moving towards something better. You don’t have to wait until you arrive. Be happy along the way.