Monday, November 26, 2007

if only

Why is it that we think our happiness depends on whether or not specific events take place in our lives or if we have certain things. Now, you might be better at this than I am, but I have a tendency to think I'll be happy "if only [insert any number of things that have not yet happened]," then I'd be happy.

When I was a teenager I thought I'd be happy if only I were old enough to move out of my parent's house. Then it was if only I were married, if only I had a baby, if only I had married someone else. After the divorce and I had been a single mom for a few years it changed to if only I was married again. It seemed I was never happy. Even after RL and I got married the if only's continued. If only we had a house, if only he didn't work nights, if only he'd go to church with me, if only . . . . I don't know how he stayed with me! I was never satisfied. There was always something that needed to take place before I could be happy.

I don't remember the specific event that took place or if it was just a combination of events, but I finally realized that happiness is a choice. It is being content with and grateful for life the way it is at any given moment. Sure, we plan, we save, we invest for the future. But we will never be happy living in the future. Happiness only comes by living in the moment and then only by finding something to be happy about. Because there's that nasty human tendency to only see what we don't have instead of being thankful, content, happy with what we do.


Desmond Jones said...

Good, solid, basic wisdom here, Phyllis. I've come to understand that Gratitude is fundamental to our entire human response. Life itself is a gratuitous gift, and everything else flows from that. . .

Molly and I went to see 'Bella' last night, and there is an epigrammatic voice-over right at the beginning that I just loved - "If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans. . ."

Phyllis Renée said...

Desmond - I love that quote! I completely laughed out loud, because that is so much how I see God, in His ever loving way.

Little Town Big Life said...

That was a good post Phyllis! And so true!

And, we might add to the search for happiness the words of Paul: "Rejoice always, and again I say rejoice" and how about "The joy of the Lord is my strength". We can only have joy when that search is quieted, and we can only be quieted when we center ourselves on our Heavenly Father.

Thanks for making myself remind me of that!!!

Anonymous said...

I read and felt myself counting my own "if onlys". Nice thoughtful provoking post. I try so hard not to live for the things I don't have, and instead live for what I do have. The "if onlys" still keep creeping in on me when I seem to least expect it.

Sailor said...

What a nice reminder, for me anyway, that I should be counting blessings and not the "if onlys".

Very timely as well, thank you.

Hmmm, the capthca word for this comment is: nztgod, kind of fun :)

for a different kind of girl said...

I still catch myself playing this "if only" thing. I used to think many of the same things you said. I also thought I'd only be happy with decisions I thought *I* was making for msyelf if another person - family, friends, whomever - approved of them first.

This is a work in progress for me, but I swear when I catch myself realizing, out of the blue, that I'm happy and content, that satisfying feeling can carry me for quite awhile.

Phyllis Renée said...

LT - Have you noticed that when we are doing what is right in God's eyes we receive His joy and then we are strengthened to continue to do what is right? I love how it is continuous circle.

SM - When the "if onlys" start to creep in on me, I try to catch them as soon as possible and replace them or convert them into thoughts of thankfulness. Sometimes it takes me a little longer to notice them, though.

Sailor - There are times I think of things to write and my head will say, "Oh, that's silly. No one will get it." Then my heart will tell me someone might. I'm glad it came at the right time for you.

DKOG - I know exactly what you mean about seeking other's approval. That was a difficult thing for me to overcome, but I think I am better at it now. And the days I do find myself happy and content are have begun to be closer and closer together.

flutterby said...

Well said, Phyllis... and a good reminder for me, too.