Happiness, Reducing Stress, Self Improvement

Don’t Discount the Present While Waiting for the Future

“[Avoid being] uncompromisingly set on anything for your future. Some of the happiest and best adjusted people are the ones who can make any situation an ideal, who are too immersed in the moment to intricately plan and decidedly commit to any one specific outcome.”  -Brienna Wiest from the Thought Catalog

I’ve moved a lot in the last 10 years. While attending University I lived in more than 5 different houses and residences. In between semesters I worked in Salt Lake City and northern Alberta for engineering internships. After graduation I moved to Calgary for a year, but soon decided I wanted to work abroad so I did a research project in Germany. Afterwards I moved back to Calgary for a couple years with my (now) wife, and I worked at two different jobs. Then last year I found a Masters program I wanted to do in Vancouver B.C. so we packed our bags and headed west!

Yikes. That is one too many times in a moving van, and it’s also been lots of saying goodbye to great friends I’ve made, to then immediately go through the process of meeting new people and adjusting to an unfamiliar place. I’ve learned so much about myself through these numerous transition processes, and I’ve started to notice patterns every time I move.

One thought that I’m guaranteed to think to myself every time I change jobs or move to a new cities: “this will fix all the issues I’m currently experiencing, such as bad room-mates or a boring job. I’ll for sure be happier once I’m travelling or working at a more exhilarating career.” Do you ever have the same thoughts?

It’s this faith that we put into the future to provide us with more happiness than we currently have. There’s nothing wrong with being excited in anticipation of travel or a new job, but sometimes we tend to discount our present experiences and don’t appreciate what we have in the moment as we eagerly wait for the next ‘better’ phase. 

It’s the same with our stuff. We discount our current phone or car, thinking that the newest model must be better and provide a greater sense of joy, but personally I find the new edition has its own set of issues, like you need to buy the new lightning cable or whatever and it’s not syncing as well as your old one and, wow, since when are phone cases so expensive!?, and jeez, maybe I want my old trusty phone back.

Ironically, we then tend to look back on these jobs/cities/possessions with more fondness than we had for them at the time. I had an annoying boss and I couldn’t wait to leave. I had crazy room-mates and life would be so much better when I moved and got my own place. Calgary was boring and once I was travelling in Europe life would be a constant adventure.

But then looking back, I miss my old job in Calgary where I got to use my hands and build machines, compared to now where I’m at a desk all day. I miss my home town where I had the close support of family. And my iPhone 4 was such a solid device.

I know it’s a human condition to forget the bad and remember the good parts about previous experiences, but the fact is there were good moments, and hopefully we appreciated them fully when we’re experiencing them.

Frequent moving has taught me that no major change in my life has drastically altered my happiness the way I expect it to.

Every job and every city has it’s upsides and downsides. If I relocate with expectations for ‘better _____’ there’s a good chance I’ll be disappointed.

Marci Shimoff defines happiness as “a state of inner peace and well-being regardless of external circumstance.” So what I’ve learned is to not take for granted my current situation while I wait around for the next great thing, but instead to find all the good and enjoyment in the present moment until the next big adventure. Because once a moment is over, it’s over, so don’t waste it thinking about how much you can’t wait until the next moment.

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