“I want to live a happy life,” one of my clients told me recently. “And I will succeed, I’m sure, when I leave this job and find another one.” “When my kids are old enough so I have the time to take this dance class I so much want,” said another.
Does this sound familiar? Have you ever had similar thoughts? Have you ever said or thought something like: “I will be very happy (calm, ready, fulfilled…) when I get this position” or “when I will be with this partner” or “when I will buy this amazing handbag”? I know I have!
And when you finally got what you wanted, when you did indeed achieve your goal were you happy? Oh, yes! You were thrilled at the beginning! Showing and telling everyone about it! Do you remember what happened afterwards? Do you remember how long your excitement lasted? A week? A month? Six months? A year? Two years? Would you honestly say that you were as happy as you thought you’d be for as long as you wanted to be?
I’ve been there and my answer is a big blunt NO! I remember how much I wanted to be accepted at a specific university for my Master’s degree and how enthusiastic I was when I succeeded. Did that prevent me from feeling or, better yet, securing my not feeling sorry, angry, frustrated, unhappy for the rest of my life? Of course not! And it’s not because I’m underestimating my efforts and what I’ve accomplished; not at all.
What I did not know then is how our brain works. How it is programmed to get used to things, situations and accomplishments regardless of the time it may take. This is exactly the reason why when we finally get what we want (you may fill in what suits you here …) our emotional reaction becomes less intense as time goes by.
“Does this mean we can never be happy?” you’ll righteously ask. Of course not! There are tools we can use at any given time to help ourselves. For example, the 4-step process of the role of our brain:
1. Realize and acknowledge how our mind works.
2. Devote some time to study how we –each one of us – use our mind.
3. Look into our specific prejudices with a magnifying mirror as they affect our perspective.
4. Work on ways to overcome those prejudices.
Is it easy to do? Not necessarily but it doesn’t have to be hard either. It all depends on how dedicated – and not simply willing – you are to working on bringing about the lasting changes you want to see in your behavior and in your life.