How many of you have waited to reach some milestone or goal in life to only be let down by temporary happiness? I, just as many of you have experienced this in some shape or form during my life. Working towards a promotion, a new house, a new phase in life, etc. to only have that happiness short-lived before finding a new goal or milestone to be a new source of happiness. Even worse, how many of you finally reach that goal to only then realize that it does not meet the expectations you have had for it? Both are two real scenarios that people often find themselves trapped in that results in this reoccurring cycle. A cycle of trying to find happiness in external sources to only be left feeling empty in the end.
In situation one, placing such extreme value and importance on a particular goal can be detrimental to your mental health. It is kind of like putting air into a leaky tire; it will hold up for now - but later down the road you are going to find yourself with a flat needing some air. This type of thinking can be dangerous. It addresses the temporary need but does not directly address the problem with a long-term solution.
With this type of thinking challenge yourself to look at what does that particular goal fulfills for you. If it is a new job that you are working towards, could this need be related to feeling validated or needed to support your feeling of success? Dig deeper to find what you are searching for - not just temporary fixes that give us a little happiness at the moment.
In situation two, we can find ourselves looking at goals or milestones in unrealistic views. We build it up so much in our mind that if it does not meet the version we have built for ourselves - it becomes unsatisfactory. For example, imagine finally achieving the big job you have worked so hard to only find out that it does not live up to the "hype." Yes, there may be positive things that occur as you have imagined with this new position, but maybe the job was not all that was envisioned. This version that you have built for yourself in your mind can take that joy because the goal is only viewed through the positives rather than grounded in realistic expectations.
Another great example would be our already set expectations for 2021. After this past year, I think it is safe to say that most if not all of us are hoping and praying for a better year this year. However, what would it mean if this year is a continuance of the problems we faced last year? Would you be able to find your joy in all circumstances, even if this year did not live up to your expectations?
How do you find the joy that is not dependent upon self-fulfillment through circumstances? Sometimes a change in perspective is what is needed. Choose daily to search for the positives in life - to highlight the good and not be overwhelmed with the bad. Find joy in sharing a laugh with a loved one. Enjoy the taste of a hot meal after a stressful day of work. Make a conscious effort to choose joy and happiness every day.
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds" James 1:2