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"Only If" - Stop Deferring Your Happiness

In the book Shantaram, one of the characters defines suffering as "being hungry for anything." When we expect certain outcomes, our happiness depends on it and we are only happy if things go our way. Sometimes we find ourselves basing our happiness on future outcomes. For example we say "I will be happy when <xyz> happens." Many agree that this specified future accomplishment is a moving finish line and when that "thing" is attained, there will always be something else - some new milestone or possession - to defer our happiness against. We end up unsatisfied in the present moment as we await for the future. Another way we defer our happiness is through the "only if" conundrum where we base our happiness on things remaining as they are. We tell ourselves either implicitly or explicitly that we will be happy "only if" things don’t change. Only if… we remain as fit, we look as young, etc. But what happens when things do change?

Change is inevitable and unavoidable; and therefore basing our happiness on stability is a recipe for disappointment. So how do we manage it? How can we create expectations for ourselves and strive toward certain goals in our lives, while still being resilient and grateful for what's good in our lives right now? We can direct our minds toward celebrating what we have to enjoy right now and be pleasantly surprised when things (in the future) become even better. (More reflections on this to come.)

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