When I was a kid, there was one perfect day each year: December 25th. I remember the adrenaline rush of running into the living room, Andy Williams crooning in the background, all the lights bright and twinkly. What did Santa bring? One by one I’d open my presents in perfect delight. Hurricane Christmas never failed to leave an aftermath of strewn paper, boxes, Styrofoam and toy pieces in its wake. As quickly as it began it was over. Within days I’d start dog-earing the Toys R’ Us catalog with love, planning and dreaming of the next December 25th.
Now I look forward to the entire Christmas season. I love the decorations, the cookie exchanges, the Dunkin’ Donuts salted caramel hot chocolate, the holiday parties, the crisp cool air (when we are lucky in Florida). I love the worldwide softening and the warmth that spills out into every community. When it comes to Christmas I savor every moment instead of fixating on Christmas morning and all the presents.
I wish I was that evolved in every other season and area of my life!
When I am married . . . When I weight 120 lbs . . . when I am promoted . . . when I have another baby . . . when I make six-figures . . .
I hear variations of this refrain from my clients, my friends and myself. We spend our lives delaying joy for another moment just off in the future.
Why so many delays? Whether the goal is feeling happy, or the plan is to take a great vacation, to stop and spend time with family, or simply appreciating where you are now, delaying dreams and joy for some future optimal date is simply delaying life.
I am in the most wonderful, loving relationship and we are happily looking forward to spending our lives together. But M is thoughtful, methodical and in some (read: all) ways much slower than I am. If it were up to me, we would have been married a year ago. However this special time has been teaching me how much there is to savor in the journey. I get to love him now without doing his laundry or picking up after him. I get to love him and still have my perfectly feminine quiet apartment. I can binge watch Scandal and eat pizza in bed. These are all benefits of dating. It doesn't change my excitement at marrying and spending forever with him, but it helps me enjoy this unique and special part of our relationship for what it is.
There are benefits to being exactly where you are at right now. There are joys in planning a wedding. Sooner than later the wedding will be done and photographed and yours; but now you can still daydream about a future big day. There are joys in being in an entry-level position or still in school. There are joys to having small kids running around you all day long. You just have to take the time to discover them and remind yourself of them when you are feeling less-than joyful.
Take out a blank word document or piece of paper. Write across the top "20 Wonderful Things About [Insert Topic Here]. Below it start listing all the wonderful parts of your life, exactly as it is. The first 10 will come easily but keep digging. It is usually the last few that will shift your perspective and help you key into loving your life.
Remember that you choose your perspective and attitude! Choosing your perspective consistently takes practice and training. But I know that using that gift of choice to focus on the wonderful gifts in your present reality only open you up to a more expansive, bright, luminous future.