Stop putting your happiness on hold
by Brian Curtis, Ph.D.
If you're anything like me, your mind naturally turns towards the difficult.
The obstacles in life.
Those responsibilities, obligations, repetitive thoughts, difficult emotions, and related barriers to you living the life you truly want to live.
For me, these obstacles have taken the form of chronic anxiety, perfectionism, worry, planning, alcohol, shame, guilt, regret, insomnia, and depression.
"Once I get those under control, then I'll have time for [enter those values-based goals that you've put on hold for far too long]."
In my work as a clinical psychologist, this theme is almost universal.
"Once my depression finally lifts, then I can think about meeting new people."
"Once I get rid of my insomnia, then I'll have the energy to start playing music again."
"Once these trauma symptoms are gone, then I'll think about going to college."
As an experiment, fill in the blanks with your own primary barrier and something you know, deep down, would bring you happiness, but is currently being put on hold:
"Once I get rid of [_________], then I'll have time for [__________].
What if there was a different game to play?
What if instead of putting your happiness on hold for an indeterminate amount of time until you're fully rid of obstacles, you could start taking tiny steps towards those activities that you're confident would bring you relief, peace, calm, and happiness?
What if I gave you a magic wand, and as soon as you waved it, all the barriers that are currently holding you back immediately disappeared?
Now you now have the time, energy, support, finances, willingness, ability, (etc) to start living the life you truly want to live.
Take a few moments to reflect on how your life would be different.
If I was a fly on the wall and could see what you were up to, what would you be doing that is different from your current day-to-day activities?
Can you tell me a little about this new version of yourself without these barriers? What are you like? How is your life different?
Now, what is the smallest possible step that would result in you walking towards this new version of yourself? This new life that is full of excitement, meaning, and fulfillment?
If that first step seems overwhelming, break it down to an even smaller step.
A step that you're confident you could complete this week. Ideally, a step that you can complete today. Right now.
Even without the magic wand, even with your current difficulties, can you commit to taking that first step?
What do you have to lose?