We live in this perpetual state of, “Once I do this, I’ll finally be happy.” We’re constantly trying to overcome some obstacle or better ourselves in some way in order to reach that sweet “happiness” we all crave. But we never really reach it. Sure, we accomplish our small feats and feel content for a moment; but within the few seconds it takes for us to put our hands back down from our celebratory roof raising, we’re already thinking about the next thing we have to do to feel that same rush of happiness and relief again. I guess I just don’t get it. Do we do these things in order to reach some mythical ‘ultimate happiness’ where everything is good and we’re never unsatisfied again? Do we do them because these times are just “the bad times” and once we make it through them we can forever bask in the good times? We waste away our youth trying to constantly make ourselves happier. We move so quickly through the stages of adolescence, convincing ourselves that that’s what the problem is. That once we’re older things will be better, things will be easier, I’ll be satisfied. That’s how we get ourselves into this state, we pushed past our youth to find happiness and since we haven’t found it yet, why not keep pushing? When are people going to realize that “the bad times” are not “the bad times”. “The bad times” are our life experiences and we’re blowing past them in the hopes that one day we won’t feel so displeased with the cards we’ve been given. I don’t know, it’s just a thought really. But recently I’ve realized that I’m blowing past my youth trying to find happiness and I’m losing touch with the present, constantly searching for a satisfactory future. I think I need to change my views of the present. Gil Pender in Midnight in Paris said it best, “That’s what the present is, a little unsatisfying because life’s a little unsatisfying”.
This entire phenomenon is a result of living in the future. We’re taught as kids to plan ahead, think about our future, think about what we want to be when we grow up, how many kids do we want, what our wedding will be like, will this help me to fulfill my plans, and the list goes on. No one is teaching kids about happiness, about living in the present, about being content now. But this is the culture we live in, people are obsessed with the past and constantly planning for the future, and they think that as long as they keep planning for someday when they will be happy, they will be. But their whole lives are spent looking forward to someday, what makes them think that right then, when they are happy, they will suddenly automatically switch mindsets and exist in that happiness? They won’t. And that’s exactly what you’re describing.
I know this because I don’t do this. I live in the present, and I love and exist and am happy now. I plan for tomorrow, and I have a loose plan for the next year, but once I’ve figured it out I stop thinking about it. I write it all down, and I know what I need to do, but it’s usually out of mind. When I walk to class, I am right there, on the sidewalk, under the trees, feeling the wind and the air, and I am nowhere else. I’m happy.