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Escaping the “Future Happiness Phenomenon”

Whoever came up with the concept that our own happiness lies outside ourselves and always in the future?

I'm sure you're familiar with these types of thoughts:

“When I get that raise, I will be happy.”

“I will be happy once I'e bought my new car.”

“When I live my dream life I will finally be happy.”

“I will be happy on the weekend.”

Well, I call BS.

The idea that we have been learning for ages, that our happiness is something to achieve in the future, is ridiculous.

If my happiness is tied to goals that can be achieved, as soon as I have reached said goal, I will be happy for the day, week, or even month, until it just becomes part of “normal life”.

I am sure you have had this or a similar experience: You bought yourself a new car / a toy / you got a raise. Whatever it may be, and you were really really excited, and it made you so happy. Then a little while later life feels normal again. That’s a bummer. Now what? You need to create a new goal to achieve happiness. This cycle keeps us running from goal to goal in search of fleeting happiness without ever feeling content in the present.

How do we get out of this cycle?

The idea is to un-couple your happiness from your goals and dreams that are future based.

Your happiness can come from the inside whether you are living your best life or not. Today may not be “perfect” (what is that even?!), and yet you are here, and you are ALIVE!

There is fresh air to breathe, water coming out of the faucet, the toilet is flushable, there is food in the cupboard, and you are deeply loved. There is so much to be grateful for. Being content and grateful for everything we are and have in the present moment, is a great step to get out of the cycle.

Instead of looking to the future to search for happiness, why don't we work backwards and acknowledge how far we have come. Let’s look back on our own lives.

Who were you 5 years ago?

How is your life different today?

What have you created for yourself to live a life that’s closer to what you truly want?

Are you a kinder and more patient human today?

How does it feel to live in your body today?

Let’s celebrate ourselves today. Consider every decision (helpful or not) that got you to be here today. To be the beautiful, kind, and loving person you are. You are exactly where you are supposed to be.

All this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have a vision of the kind of life we want to live. We can do both. We can be grateful for everything we are and have, and at the same time dream up and create our best lives.

How do I imagine & create my best life?

First, we need a vision:

Find somewhere quiet to sit (or walk), take a few deep breaths, relax. Relax your shoulders, your jaw, your hands. Shake out the stress if you need to.

Now, imagine you are somewhere 3-5 years in the future. Imagine your “Ideal Day”.

While we are also looking for concrete details, we are mostly interested in “feeling states”. Try to really feel through your day. You are welcome to record your dreaming, so you can let loose and not have to remember all the details in this moment. Then later, write it down.

Here are some questions to get you started:

How do you wake up? Where? Is there someone beside you?

What does your morning routine look & feel like?

It’s time to go to work… What time is it? Where do you go? What does the space look and feel like? Are there people around you? What do you look forward to? What sorts of projects do you get involved in that make you forget time?

Your work day is complete… How do you feel? What does the rest of your day look & feel like?

Let’s compare: What sorts of feeling states / details that you just dreamed up, do you already have in your present life? How can you create more / expand them?

Now that you have an idea of the sort of day that makes you fall in love, it’s time to take a tiny bit of action. We call them Turtle steps. They are so small, and almost insignificant that they feel easy. There is no resistance to doing it.

Fitness Example:

Going to the Gym for 60mins might sound like a nightmare to you.

30mins? Nope.

10mins? Nope.

How about 1 pushup at home? Yes! That’s easy peasy.

So you start with 1 pushup a day and do that for a while. Maybe in a few weeks that feels too easy, and you’ll be ready to do 2 pushups. Increase slowly! And so on.

That’s how we move towards our goals. Experiencing gratitude for what we already are and have. Keeping a vision of our ideal day, and making tiny turtle steps towards that vision. Adjust as you go along.

With love,


Jani is a certified ICF & Martha Beck Life Coach, and offers a free 60 min discovery session for anyone who is ready to create their best life.

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