Why You Don't Need To Suffer To Get What You Really Want In Life

I have a client who's more than a little attached to winning an Oscar. She dreams about her acceptance speech, and what her life will be like afterward, and she’s taking real action to attain this loftiest of goals. She may even win one because A) she’s good and B) I believe what we put our attention on grows.

That said, she’s robbing herself of the full joy she could be experiencing along the way. How? She's adopted a belief that's so common in goal-oriented, high achievers: the more she suffers now, the more she deserves an Oscar in the future. She's also convinced that her life will be better after winning this hypothetical Academy Award than it is right now.

This is what I call the "I'll be Happy When … Syndrome." most of us are so eyeball deep in it that we have a hard time seeing it in ourselves. This syndrome robs us of the opportunity to experience full bliss right here, right now.

Here are some symptoms of the "I'll Be Happy When … Syndrome":

1. You're willing to suffer for now because you believe things will get better on the other side of achieving your goal.

We often think that once we get the perfect job, the perfect partner, the perfect apartment, or finally get that Oscar, that we’re going to magically be happier than we were before. But the truth is, your happiness does not lie on the other side of any of those things. It lies in one place – inside of you – and it lies in one time: right now. Most of us know this intellectually, but it's much more powerful to experience that physically. This is what devotion and meditation provide.

2. You're rigidly attached to life showing up in a particular way.

I call myself a recovering control freak. Control is such a tempting thing to be addicted to, but here’s the news, friends: control is an illusion. Life never goes according to plan. That doesn't make the planning irrelevant. Planning is necessary, but after we make those plans it may be wise to allow nature to take the wheel. Otherwise we look like those kids in the grocery store who think they're driving the shopping cart via the plastic toy steering wheel in the front.

3. You find yourself in expectation more than appreciation.

It's easy to fall into expectation. If we work really hard and get our ducks in a row, it's easy to feel that the universe somehow owes us something. We’ve paid our dues; now it’s time for life to get easy, stress free, and fun. What if, instead of this expectation, we start to appreciate all that's happening right now? How much is there to be thankful for in this moment?

If you're reading this article it means you have access to limitless information via the internet, and most likely a place to sleep tonight and food to eat. That is an awful lot to give thanks for. The sneaky benefit of gratitude is that it retrains your brain to look for what is going right instead of problems to solve.

If you find yourself identifying with any of these symptoms of the “I’ll Be Happy When … Syndrome" here's the fastest way out:

Devote yourself to something bigger than you.

The common thread among most of the world's top performers is that they've hitched their wagon to a cause greater than their own. Watch athletes after winning a game or actors winning an Oscar. The greats almost always thank something bigger than themselves or devote the award to a cause that fueled their performance. This is no accident.

Here’s a little secret: We’re not actually chasing things when we fall victim to the “I’ll Be Happy When … Syndrome.” What we’re chasing is the experience we think we’ll have on the other side of obtaining those things. If we can let go of our illusion of control, give thanks for what is happening NOW, and devote our unique gifts to the need of the time, we can not only move beyond this syndrome, but we can uplevel ourselves and the collective simultaneously.

So here’s a challenge for you: Think about your life. When have you been the happiest? When have you felt the most fulfilled? My guess is this happens when you are using 100% of your gifts to work toward something you believe is important, and you’re not rigidly attached to any outcome. This is devotion.

You'll know you're fully devoted when the act itself becomes the reward. You'll find that you're creating because it's fun to create, or you’ll help a friend move simply because you enjoy doing something nice for her, not because you’re secretly keeping a tally of what the universe owes you in karmic debt.

So this begs the question: Are you devoted to your dreams, or are you suffering for them? Of course every dream takes work and pain is part of being human, but suffering is optional.

Photo courtesy of the author

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Emily Fletcher

Founder of Ziva Meditation
Emily Fletcher is the founder of Ziva Meditation, the world's first online meditation training and the author of her new book Stress Less, Accomplish More. Ziva's mission is to make meditation attractive and accessible to modern people who are ready to up-level their performance and their life. Recently featured in the New York Times and regarded as one of the leading experts in Vedic meditation, Emily has been invited by companies like Google, Barclays Bank, Viacom, Chanel, Coca-Cola, and sweetgreen to help up-level company performance through meditation.Emily has had the honor of speaking at Summit Series, Awesomeness Fest, and the Omega Center. She began her nine years of training in Rishikesh, India, and was inspired to teach after experiencing the profound physical and mental benefits meditation provided her during her 10-year career on Broadway, which included roles in Chicago, The Producers, and A Chorus Line. With her high-performance background and intensive meditation training, Emily is perfectly suited to teach busy people how to incorporate meditation and visualization into their life, and she's an mbg course instructor! You can learn with her by joining her course, Guided Visualizations: How to Overcome Your Fears, Excel at Work, and Have Mind-Blowing Sex. She has also created a powerful guided visualization called zivaDETOX. It's a simple, downloadable audio that is designed to help you release thoughts and stress that are not serving you and to get you on the right path to leaving the stress behind. If Ziva sounds charming to you or you want to deepen your daily practice, you can join a global community of meditators and uplift your life from the comfort of your own home.
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