Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Wishing our lives away . . .

Must be my husband's military training (he spent six years in the Navy over 30 years ago, but I guess it never leaves you), because he is always the first one up in the mornings. The alarm goes off and he pops out of bed and hops in the shower before I can pry my eyes open. Some of us are morning people, and some are not . . . . At any rate, as I was lying there trying to wake up, my foggy brain determined that it was only Tuesday, and my immediate thought was "I can't wait for the weekend."

That made me start thinking about how it seems like so often we wish our lives away, starting from when we are little kids. I know that for myself in particular, I have spent my whole life wishing my life away. When I was little, I used to think "I can't wait until summer." "I can't wait until I am a teenager" (little did I realize . . . ). "I can't wait until I'm grown up and making my own decisions." "I can't wait until I'm out of high school." "I can't wait until I'm out of college"(if I could have one "do over" it would be college -- I wasted what probably were the happiest and most carefree times of my life wishing it were over). "I can't wait until I'm married" I can't wait until I have children" "I can't wait until the baby sleeps through the night." "I can't wait until the kids are out of diapers" "I can't wait until the kids are in school." "I can't wait until the kids are old enough to stay home alone." "I can't wait until the kids graduate from high school." "I can't wait until the kids grow up." "I can't wait until the kids are out of the house" (still working on that one!!). "I can't wait until I'm a grandmother." "I can't wait until I retire."

It seems like I spend my time hurrying through my life, thinking "I will be happy when . . . ", waiting for that perfect moment when the circumstances are right and the planets are aligned, THEN I can be happy. When the kids are out of the house, when we get our bills paid off, when we move, when we win the lottery, when I get the promotion, when I retire -- THEN I will be happy. When, when when -- and if, if, if.

How do I learn to live "in the moment"? Why can't I be happy NOW, despite less-than-perfect cirucmstances? Will things ever be "perfect" enough that I will allow myself to be happy? I have often puzzled over my lack of ability to enjoy the moment, to be happy in spite of myself. I have found that, when enjoying (have you ever noticed that the root word of "enjoy" is "JOY"?!?)when enjoying soaring happiness, in the back of my mind I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. I realize that I'm "afraid" to be too happy, because inevitably something happens to balance the karmic scale, that if I am TOO happy, then something awful will happen, as if in punishment for enjoying my happiness. Why do I do this? Because it keeps happening. It has been my experience that if I'm just neutral and never feel too happy, then nothing bad will happen to me.

Sometimes I can feel a soaring happiness, enjoying my life and counting my blessings, thinking that FINALLY I have achieved the peace and happiness I've been looking for and deserve in my life. Then something will happen ruins not only the moment, but the entire day, weekend, week, etc. I just wish I could learn to not let the moods of others ruin my peace. I think many women can identify with this -- I am such a people pleaser, that somehow I take it personally when someone is in a bad mood, angry, upset -- whatever it is. That somehow their mood or emotion is somehow my fault. I know that we all feel bad when people we love are upset, but there's got to be a way that I can learn to help and support them without feeling like I have to "fix" them in order for me to feel my own happiness. Does that make any sense?!? Of course, when someone you love is angry with you, blaming you (rightly or wrongly) for something, that is different and it is okay to be upset that you are being wrongly accused. Anyway . . . you get the point. LOL

My goal is to begin living in the present and to stop wishing my life away, thinking that "I will be happy when . . . ". My goal is to begin thinking "I am going to be happy TODAY." I'm not going to wait for my circumstances to make me happy; I'm going to be happy DESPITE my circumstances. I'm sure I will not be successful every time, but I'm certainly going to try. Without being polyanna-ish, I want to learn to be happy NOW -- in the moment. Instead of saying, "When the kids are out of the house, then I'll be happy." "When we have enough money (is it ever enough?!?) then I'll be happy." "When we retire, then I'll be happy . . ."

In conclusion, I will close with a wonderful quote I read on the internet. I don't know who wrote it, but it sums up perfectly what I've been feeling. It's called "Each Moment is a Gift."

Life is a collection of moments.

They are all important.

They all count.

After we live them, each of these moments is gone forever.

Guilt is nothing more than wasting today’s precious moments on something that can’t be changed from the past.

Worry is nothing more than wasting today’s precious moments on something that may or may not happen in the future.

Today is all we have.

We need to live all of today’s moments.

Today is a gift.

That’s why it’s called "the present."