“I'm not unhappy," he said. "Only people with no purpose are unhappy. I've got a purpose.”
Cassandra Clare, City of Bones
“I’m not happy. I’m not happy at all.”
That’s a quote from an old movie, one from the 1930’s. Apparently, it was also a popular saying during the time. Fortunately, it’s not true of me, not completely anyway. I’m not completely unhappy, but I’m not completely happy either. I’m not complaining. When I say I’m unhappy, I’m not saying I’m sad, depressed, or miserable – I’m just unhappy with certain parts of my life.
In the book Flow, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the author says, “Happy people recognize that they don’t have to be happy all the time.”
I accept my unhappiness, not as a permanent state, but as a present fact. There are certain parts of my life I want to change. This lack of happiness is really a gift from God. It is a signal that something isn’t right. If I didn’t have this signal, I would be like a hemophiliac who wasn’t aware of his wound and didn’t take the time or effort to clean and heal it. Again, my lack of happiness is not sadness; it’s simply a lack of happiness. It’s a neutral feeling.
In fact, I don’t even have to do anything about it. I could simply choose to leave things alone, to accept conditions as they are and accept my lack of happiness. I would be saying, “I know my life can be better, but I choose to not make the effort. I accept things as they are, including the consequences of not trying to change things.”
Is this response acceptable? At times, yes. Change requires effort, time, and risk. There are always benefits and there is always a cost. Often I have not counted the cost and the change either did not last or was premature and caused more problems. Some efforts and risk are just too large – at least for now. There may come a day when I accept that risk, or there may not, but for now, I’m letting it go. Sometimes the crucial element for personal change is the right time. An example of this might be, “I’m not happy with my car, but it’s not time to get a new one yet. I can wait six months. If I get one now, I will assume a debt I can’t pay yet.”
Coupled with that response is creating a plan for the future and for the present. In other words, “What do I do while I’m waiting?
In my own case, I know there are goals I have. They are life changing, but what I do until they materialize is crucial. Here are some strategies:
I can do my very best at what is in front of me now. I have considerable skills in some areas. Why not use them to bless the world? Everyone would be much happier, including me. In addition, I would be leaving a legacy of good work behind.
I can also act as if I already had what I wanted, or better, that it was guaranteed as long as I worked towards it. This has been a topic here before, but if hard work and consistent effort guaranteed success, then why wouldn’t I work hard towards my goals? I can’t control much, but I can control that.
This fascinates me. What would my life look like if I were a full-time writer? What would my environment look like? What would I need to learn? What work habits would I need? How much time would I give?
And how many of these things can I do now? Probably most of them.
The future is now. If I want to be a writer, then I can write now. I can create my life now and keep working until the picture is complete. If I want to be in my Purpose, I need to be there now. There is n future. There is no “some day.” There is only now. Now is when I can Get Started and Keep Going…and now is when I can be happy.