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Last updated December, 2017.
Earlier this week we discussed how the mind always puts your happiness off until you achieve, acquire, or change something ("I'll be happy when...").
Mindfulness and meditation teach us to become aware of this tendency to "postpone happiness." Many people take that to mean the practices are incompatible with having goals, but that's not the case.
The distinction is not tying your happiness to the achievement of those goals. If you make your happiness dependent on something, there will always be something else you need to achieve, acquire, or change to by happy. As a result, happiness will continuously elude you.
The motivational speaker Jim Rohn said
"Learn how to be happy with what you have while you pursue all that you want."
That quote captures the above sentiment, as does this from Alan Watts:
"If you make where you are going more important than where you are, there may be no point in going."
From a practical perspective, consider the time and energy we put into worrying about goals and whether or not we will achieve them. Upon examination, you'll find it's a lot. And, doing so gives rise to stress, anxiety, and other unhealthy mental states.
If, however, you refocus that time and energy into what you can do right here and now, it will aid you in more skillful decisions and actions. Which increases the odds you'll achieve your goals!
So, don't waste your time and efforts on mental ruminations. Instead, use your time and efforts to do what you can in the only time you can actually do it: the present moment.
Awareness-based therapy (ABT)
Do you struggle with thoughts and emotions? Our online, self-paced program can help. It teaches you how your mind works, and provides a path to move beyond "coping" to achieving and maintaining a more consistent state of well-being.
Find out more about the ABT program here.
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