If only my spouse would such and such
If only I had the right partner
If only I had a different job
If only I could sleep a little bit more
If only I had more time
If only I was really healthy
If only I could get home before the traffic starts
If only, if only, if only...
Keeping happiness at bay because of the "If only" syndrome. Pushing off your happiness until the status of things in your life or your world change. Sound at all familiar?
Clinical psychologist, mindfulness and spiritual teacher Tara Brach recently did a podcast on joy. Tara said, "We are in a trance of wanting life different. It shouldn't be like it is, it should be different to be okay. It takes two forms, either something is missing right now, we need something more to be full, or it needs to be different because something is wrong."
Something is missing...the "If only" mind. If only I had such and such I'd be okay. If only's don't work. A lot of times they come up because we are comparing ourselves to others. Playing the comparison game.
When we are playing the "If only" game we are doing what Tara Brach calls, leaning forward. As Tara says, "When it's a habit we are always on our way somewhere else. We always think we should be doing something else. And when it's a habit, we will get to the end of our life and have 'If onlyed' ourselves to death." This is when people are on their death bed and having regrets. Regretting that they didn't allow themselves to be happy. Always seeking and searching for something instead of making the choice to be happy now.
The other side of the trance is when we are in the something's wrong mode. We are in this mode when we are blaming other people for what they are doing wrong, holding a resentment. Our inability to forgive correlates with our inability to experience joy and happiness. The trance of there's something wrong with you or with the world.
Then there's the something's wrong with me. The trance of unworthiness, or of I'm not enough. We can't love life when we are in this mode. It can be a life habit of turning on ourselves and blocking our joy.
If we are honest with ourselves, until we are aware and consciously start to work on shifting the focus of our thoughts, they tend to focus on worrying, planning, judging, on lack, on what's missing and what's wrong.
Bringing our awareness to these habits, these modes of operation, helps us to remove the hook. Just being aware that we are doing it and what its impact is would be half the battle. Once you are aware, you can make the choice to choose again, to create a different habit, to shift your mindset.
Practicing gratitude and mindfulness also help us to shift our mindset out from this trance. Mindfulness keeps us in the present moment bringing awareness to our thoughts and keeping them from worrying about the past and the present. Gratitude gives us perspective and reminds us of all of the goodness we already have in our lives.
I invite you to move from the "If only", something's missing, and something's wrong mode of operation and into a place of mindfulness, gratitude, joy and happiness.