The Myth of Once
Once is a four letter word, one of the most dangerous in the English language. “Once Friday rolls around I can start having fun.” “Once I retire, I’ll begin to live life.” “Once I get that promotion, I’ll be in a position to take a vacation.” “Once my neighbor moves away, I’ll be able to enjoy my apartment.” Once, once, once… as though our happiness, our lives, are dependent upon things totally outside our control. As though life is happening to us, rather than living life on our own terms, and having a positive mindset and attitude regardless of our external environment.
If you ever catch yourself thinking about how things will be ‘once,’ realize quickly that the grass isn’t greener on the other side of the fence, the grass is greener wherever you water it (and brown wherever you pi** on it, which is what most people do). Our happiness is largely driven by what is between our ears, and with enough practice (See Past Article: The Power of The Mind), you can change your attitude moment to moment into a positive one.
To be sure, progress is at the root of human joy, so the practice of goal setting is an essential and powerful one. But there is a big difference between proactively setting forth a vision - and enjoying the journey in getting there - and believing your life will only turn positive once something in your life changes (usually outside your control). If you take the latter approach, you will spend your entire life chasing some elusive, non-existent panacea. How often have you heard someone say that the fancy sport car they coveted since their teen years wasn’t all that fun to drive after about a month. Or worse yet, the retiree who was looking forward to that day for decades expressing how boring his life is – and wishing he had the stimulation and camaraderie associated with the workplace. Don’t fall into the trap; don’t be one of those people who floats through life waiting for the proverbial cavalry to save them. I’ll let you in on a little secret: there is no cavalry. You are the cavalry. You always have been and always will be. Your happiness begins with a choice to be happy (and actions consistent with profound joy – being healthy, connecting with others, pursuing meaningful goals, etc.), not with the arrival of something on your ‘once’ list.