In life we often think that happiness is conditional, and something we can achieve given the ideal circumstances. We think, I’ll be happy when I move to a warmer place, I’ll be happy when I get a better job, when I meet the perfect partner, when I make more money, or loose this weight.
Location for example is something that can weigh heavily on a person’s disposition. We can feel stuck somewhere that doesn’t feel right or can’t offer what we want in terms of career, activities, or weather. These feelings are often valid and some can experience increased incidence of depression depending on the season. Of course we can think that the only way to solve this problem is to get up and move to greener pastures. But before you do, ask yourself, what baggage will I bring with me when I go?
What we often find is that the patterns of our mind that made us feel unhappy in the past carry over to the “ideal circumstances”. Our minds are creatures of habit and our the emotions we experience are in reaction to those habitual thoughts. You may find that your unhappiness was both a consequence of the outside conditions as well as the storm brewing within you. Some may continue to wander from place to place, person to person, diet to diet, without out ever turning inward to address the root of the issue.
The good news is that we can change the way we think and relate to the unpleasant things in life. We can choose not to wait until the outside meets our expectations, but rather teach ourselves to be accepting of the way things are. We can choose to look for the good in each and every moment. Knowing that you are already whole, enough and capable.
This is one of the things that we work on when we attempt to become more mindful. By simply being aware of the way that our mind responds to each moment helps to identify habitual thoughts and patterns. With awareness comes the capacity to change, and eventually you can cultivate a renewed outlook and ability to manage unhappiness or stress, regardless of where you are.
Book recommendation: “Wherever You Go There You Are, mindfulness meditation for everyday life” by Jon Kabat-Zinn, originator of the MBSR (Mindfulness-based stress reduction) program.