Why We're So Unhappy
Many people lose the small joys in the hope for the big happiness.
— Pearl S. Buck

Do you ever feel like you’re just not where you want to be, and that maybe, you’ll never get there?

And as hard as you work, you feel like you’re missing out on what’s right in front of you? I’ve spent more time than I’m willing to admit this year being upset about my big vision not being here now, than I have enjoying the moments that are right before me, front and center.

Time spent gardening wth my fiancée.

A drink out with good friends at a rooftop bar.

The flavor notes in my morning coffee.

See, I don’t think we have a problem with living in the moment. No, we’re actually REALLY good at it - it’s all we focus on. The only problem is that we focus our attention at the WRONG things - the “I don’t have’s” and the “I wish I could’s…” I think it’s part self-preservation and part societal culture.

“How’s your business going?”

“How’s your mom?”

“What’s your wife up to these days?”

“How’s your photography? Drawing? Music? School?”

And as we stumble through a half-composed, surface-level answer of “good, great, fine,” we’re only thinking in the back of our minds what is “wrong” with all of those things. How our life could be so much better “if it was just ___________.” It’s in this place that the subtle devil of failure works his way in to your mind, tears you down, tells you that you can’t do the thing you set out to do, and that you’ll always be stuck there. That little devil gets you focusing on all of the wrong things, all of the bad. Why do you think most of us get honked and beeped at when we drive to work on any given Tuesday? 

I heard someone say a long time ago that a lot of us just have all of the trash in our garbage trucks of life when we go throughout our day. When we crash in to one another, all the garbage spills out and makes a massive, heaping mess. While I don’t agree that each of us carries a ton of garbage around, I do agree that it’s easy for us to run in to each other and let the waste bin come piling out.

We’re only looking for acceptance. We’re only looking for love. We’re only looking for community, and it’s only when we crash in to each other in a fiery rage that we realize how badly we need it…

“but only if __________,”

“but only when __________,”

The thing I think most of us miss most often is that we aren’t a bunch of garbage trucks driving around and crashing in to each other. We’re more like… mobile re-use centers, that can repurpose the raw materials of life in to useful things for ourselves, for one another. We forget that the faded goggles we wear don’t let us see the beauty in where we’re at, and we get angry.

The secret? Loving where you’re at, but knowing where you’re going. If there’s anything I’ve ever found to be more helpful when I feel like I’m down about where I’m at in my career, my life, my relationships, it’s that I need to appreciate where I am just as much as where I want to go.

I need to see the beauty around me.

I need to see the potential in the seemingly un-usable rubble before me.

I need to remember that I have this life to live, and I want to live it giving back as much joy and happiness as I can to the world around me… 

However, even though I must love the now, I must also love the what’s-to-come. If I level off and never do anything else, how will I ever be happy? If I don’t care about a future where I see the fruit of my labor now, why must I labor in love at all? Why must I care to any degree what happens now?

There’s this duality that exists in following your dreams - the desire to love the now, but continue the fight for the to-come. We can’t let life pass us by as we build our dreams. We can’t let the moments now be skirted with anger or sadness or anxiety because we aren’t yet who we want to be. It’s so very true that the end goal is not the end goal at all, but the journey it takes to get there. We aren’t here for long, and if all we EVER do is focus on where we aren’t, how will we ever be happy living a life of 80, 90, 100 years, even if we DO reach the goal we set out for.

Bad self-esteem only breeds bad habits. Good self-esteem only breeds good habits. When we focus on the bad things - the what-we-don’t-haves - we trade out so much happiness we could have now, only to *think* we can reserve it for later. I’m not from the future, but I know that trading any level of loving where I am at now and living beside the people I care about here could never compare to any sort of future I may or may not have if I presently forget to be happy right here, and right now.

Life moves quickly, and as each year passes, each year goes faster and faster and faster. Be all here, be happy with what you have now, be happy with what is around you and all the blessings and gifts you’ve been given… but don’t forget that the future is still waiting, and the journey to the end of the road is going to be the most incredible journey you’ve ever been on. Put your focus down, work hard, and love life - both here, and to come.

Don’t let yourself lose the now for the hope of the future.

Watch a sunset with the people you love, then go home and work hard for your dreams.

Notice the smile in the grandmother’s eyes as you board the train, then open your laptop and work on your project.

Kiss your family on the cheek, hug them tightly, tuck your children in to bed, and then plan out your future.

Don’t let life pass you by.

- David


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