I have a 3 part challenge for you, and don't worry it will take 5 minutes.
Close your eyes and think about your life and all of the pieces to it. Mentally go over your job, your daily schedule, where you live, your financial situation, and your relationships.
Now, this is part 1 of the challenge. I want you to take that mental list of all the parts of your life and add this circumstance to it: What if those things never changed for you?
What if you were going to have the same job for the rest of your life?
What if your husband never earned more money?
What if you stayed in your current house/apartment?
What if in all the "things" that people climb the ladder for (more money, bigger house, better job, nicer car) you currently were stuck with?
As you ponder those questions, I want to be clear that you wouldn't be stuck in a never-ending "Ground Hogs Day" type situation. You would instead be almost "capped" where you are. If you drive an old car, you would always drive an old car but not necessarily that EXACT car. You could get promoted at your current job but not make any more money than you do right now.
Basically, you can change, grown, live each day, but your daily circumstances wouldn't change much.
Part 2: How does that make you feel?
Your gut reaction might be complete panic. Is there one area of your life that you are freaking out about that you can't change? Take a moment to see where you are having anxiety/regret/fear and where you are completely calm about your life.
Part 3: Write down the areas of your life YOU control and want to change.
This part of the challenge should be pretty eye-opening. There are a lot of things in our life that we can control and you should change if they stressed you out in part 1 and 2 of this challenge. But there are so many things we can't change. That is one purpose of this challenge: to see if you can be happy with your life as it is right now.
I have been thinking of this little exercise for two weeks now since I first did it. A big goal l I had this year fell through and it was completely out of my control. That didn't stop me from freaking out, crying and going down the rabbit hole of things-will-never-change-for-me thinking. That is when I stopped and honestly thought, "can I be happy with my life if things never changed?"
At first, my answer was ABSOLUTELY NOT!
I want to make more money.
I want a bigger house.
But then I stopped and realized something powerful: I AM happy right now. So if I really had to live in my current house forever, my husband and I always made as much money as we do now, and some of our "big/life changing" goals never happen--I could live with it.
As someone that is all about setting goals, bettering your life, and going for change, this really rattled me. I spent a good week reevaluating some of my expectations on life. And I came to the conclusion that some of my desires from life were stealing my joy.
Case and point: my husband is working on his master's degree. I have put a lot of my joy and happiness on waiting for this goal to happen. Why? A master's degree would mean more money, better job opportunities, and when he is done with school it will mean more free evenings with him and NO MORE money spent on tuition.
But this is a goal I have very little control over and one that has taken longer than we initially planned for. I have stressed and cried over this goal for YEARS. And when I stopped to take a moment and say "what if it never happens?" I realized I could be happy without it. Annnndddd it took me a few days to be okay with that.
I realized that I could be happy with a hubby without a master's degree. Yes, we probably wouldn't make as much money. Yes, some jobs would never be an option. But we could make it work. Since realizing this I haven't stress and worry about it as much because I realized that I was happy now without it and I could be happy until we got it.
Now, I want to be PERFECTLY CLEAR the purpose of this exercise isn't to give up on big goals. We are still going to work on my husband's master's degree. The purpose of this challenge is to show you that you can be happy TODAY regardless if you ever get some of the big desires we all have out of life.
Sometimes (like me and my hubby's school) we get hung up on how amazing, wonderful, and dare I say PERFECT, our life will be when we get our desires. And working on our goals will always help us make more of our lives, but we have to be careful that we don't hang our happiness on something that is in the future.
So take some time this week to do this challenge again and again, focusing on different desires of your life that you believe will make you really happy. If you have control over those desires or find there are areas that are blocking you from being happy right now (like a horrible job) I challenge you to take charge and change those areas.
If you find that many of your desires for life are out of your control, I hope you can take a step back and find joy in today. This might take some serious time, pondering and prayer. But as you do, you will find that happiness is already all around you.
You don't have to wait for it, and you don't have to hang it up with some big goals that need to be checked off your list.
The goal is to be genuinely happy most of the time (we all have bad days and that's okay). And most of the time, we aren't rockstars, we don't get what we want, and we are pretty normal people. So make sure your normal is a happy one.