Smorgasbord Something to Think About Rewind – Putting restrictions on your happiness


Whilst I am off house and dog sitting (and reading) I am sharing some posts from the last few years as I celebrate my fifth blogging birthday this month. This post is one that I read from time to time, as I can utter the words ‘I will be happy when’ without thinking on occasion. For those who have read this post before… I hope you don’t mind….

I have been a nutritional and life coach for the last 20 years.  Having given myself a severe kick up the backside at age 43 to make the necessary changes in my own life.

I had mindlessly eaten for most of my adult life, and either starved myself or binged, depending on whims rather than well thought out decisions.  It was only when I was studying nutrition, that the light went on, that the food on my plate had more purpose, beneficial qualities, and determination to thrive than I did.

That is just one example of how we can drift through life. 

Great at some things, particularly those we enjoy, good at other skills that we have learned along the way and applied to keep us fed, watered and under a roof. But perhaps a bit slapdash when it comes to things that we neither enjoy or feel apply to us, even when they might be essential to our health and survival, such as deciding what food to eat.

The reality is that when we refer to happiness we tend to put the word ‘when’ in front of it.

When I have 10,000 in the bank I will be happy!

When I have lost a stone I will be happy!

When I meet the perfect man I will be happy!

When I have a bestselling novel!

Trouble is that we often find that when we reach what we consider to be that ‘happy’ moment it is not quite as fulfilling as we expected.

Which brings me onto expectations.  We are encouraged today to think big.  Naturally our parents will usually have some plan in place for what they perceive is the right path in life, and their expectations are usually the first that we will succeed or fail to meet or surpass.

This develops a tendency in us to expect certain events and experiences to happen in our lives with quite rigid targets attached.

Great job by 21

Married by 25

Children by 30 

Retired by 40 

Living in paradise by 50!

Apart from those types of targets slipping past very quickly, because our eyes are on the big and triumphant completion dates, we sometimes fail to recognise and celebrate smaller but just as significant milestones along the way.

Don’t get me wrong, having goals and dreams and the commitment to make them happen is terrific.  But you have to insert the smaller steps within your life plan and acknowledge their importance on getting to where you want to be. 

Also be prepared to deviate from the plan when an opportunity presents itself or to leave the plan, and come back to it when circumstances dictate.

I also know from my own experience, and from family, friends and those I have worked with that there can be dreadful times.  Sickness, loss, depression, and a feeling of being out of control. Realistically it can take a huge effort to come back from life’s interventions.

But you have to hold onto as many of the good things in your life as possible, and building a strong support team is essential for those times.  In real terms with family and friends, but also now with the Internet. The relationships you form with like-minded positive people, who might be experiencing the same setbacks, but who can positively guide you through it.

I noticed this during the last few weeks as three hurricanes battered islands in the Caribbean and the Florida and eastern coast of America. People reached out on Facebook to voice concern for the safety of the friends they had never met, shared experiences and offered practical advice, and were there to commiserate and to comfort when those affected returned online.

Putting off happiness

Rather than put off happiness until some distant pre-determined date or event, try making a balance sheet of your life at the moment.

On one side place all the benefits in your life including family, loved ones, friends, health, activities, jobs, money etc.  On the other side put the less beneficial – where you think things could be improved – however small.

Then you decide that what you have on the beneficial side makes you ‘happy’ already.

Happiness is not stuck in a rut – in can be increased through several levels until you are ecstatic.  Take the items on your list for improvement, one at a time, decide how you are going to achieve them, make a plan with incremental steps and celebrate each one that you take.

I know it sounds simplistic but over the years I have found that my clients have lost weight much more happily, have viewed their relationships with less expectation and more delight.

They have also discovered that life can surprise you with its ability to help you achieve your dreams in ways that you had not even considered.

Be happy today and enjoy your life and the journey you are on already.  If you live to 90 or 100, you have plenty of time to adjust your plan or take a detour and still achieve your dreams.


Thanks for dropping by today and look forward to your feedback…….. thanks Sally