Our society has created a great surge of desired positivity through the masses of television and social media. A movement that is meant to create a ripple effect of fulfilled people who find their life’s purpose and experience ultimate joy has instead created a society with unattainable expectations, massive disappointment and wide spread depression. Individuals, both young and old, have become entitled to an extreme dysfunctional degree. I have recently been taking stock of the emotions that arise in me when I hear people advocating that in your lifetime “you can have it all”. It does not inspire me to dream bigger or motivate me to move towards those dreams.
Instead, I become overwhelmed by the idea that I am supposed to be able to want and achieve more, and as a result, I will be happier than I already am. Anxiety develops because deep down in the cockles of my realistic self, I know that I cannot possibly have it all.
Many of my clients tell me how annoyed they are by the infinite number of so called inspirational quotes that are presented to them day after day on FaceBook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. They are repeatedly being told that they can have it all; that anything they desire is at their finger tips. If they are not mindful of it, they feed into it because it sounds so lovely. And then disappointment sets in because they don’t feel what the quotes tell them they should feel.
Our children are lead to believe that all their dreams can come true, and that they can accomplish anything they desire; “dream big and reach for the stars”. We actually tell them that they can be and do anything their heart desires. It sounds a little farfetched doesn’t it? That’s because it is! We have a deep knowing that something just doesn’t jive with thinking that no matter what we want, it will be there at our beckon call just because we happen to think about it often enough or want it badly enough. Not everyone can do or have everything they think they would like.
Audrey Hepburn said, “Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’”. A truly wonderful thought by someone who accomplished most of what she dreamed of, and yet it sends shivers of fear and failure up my spine. She experienced the success of acting, great love, the joy of being a parent, and the freedom of money. Every day she made decisions based on her mantra that “All is possible”, and with it came great tradeoffs. She lost time with loved ones while working long hours, experienced several miscarriages due to overwork and stress, and sacrificed the longevity of her relationships for the love of acting. In the end, she discovered what truly made her happy as she dedicated the rest of her life to her humanitarian work with UNICEF; a role in which she was willing to give what she had to offer instead of searching for what she didn’t have.
Gratitude it seems is easily achieved and always fulfilling.
When we repeat wonderfully positive affirmations to ourselves as we’re falling asleep, there is the possibility that we are really just talking ourselves into a fantasy of what our perfect life ‘should’ look like. It is a self-medication of sorts as we might just be feeding into an unrealistic perception because, at the time, it is easier than facing the undeniable truth that you may be praying for something that you don’t really want or cannot achieve. We might have to face the fact that our expectations may need to change in order to feel fulfilled and grateful.
Stepping into what is realistic rather than dreaming about a fantasy may require undesired tradeoffs along the way of achieving what is feasible.
Don’t be mistaken, I believe in moving towards what makes us happy. I just believe in determining, with a degree of realism, what that looks like for us as individuals. When we do that, we are able to strive for that which we really want and what is attainable, and we can be rid of the mindset of “if I only had…..,I would be happy”.
When we choose to fall into the “if only’s”, it becomes an endless pattern as we only seek what others have and that which sits distant and very far away. In order to break the pattern we need to face the truth that we just cannot have everything we want, and maybe our mind is playing tricks on us, and we really don’t want it after all.
And so, rather than focusing on all the things that we probably won’t get in our lifetime, and possibly only think we want, how about we become clear about what is important to us.
What do we really value??
Once we gain this clarity, we are able to establish the possible tradeoffs that come with what we truly want. What this requires is the ability to welcome in the good that we achieve while accepting that it usually comes with a little, and sometimes a lot, of some not so great stuff. When we are able to do this, our expectations remain realistic, and if not achieved, we are not overwhelmed with unmanageable grief. We experience gratitude, and it changes everything. It changes what we want and how we choose to show up in the world.
So, in the end we realize that we don’t really want it all. We just thought we did because it was been drilled into our heads over and over again.
All we really need is to be clear about what it is we want and go for whatever that is, instead of trying to have everything else along with it. It doesn’t mean that if we are not happy right now, we need to accept unhappiness. It means that we need to determine what it is that will truly make us, as individuals, happy, and move towards that with small steps and patience while understanding and accepting what we may need to give up during the process.
Gratitude becomes accepting what is important to each of us as individuals without allowing the judgement of the outside world to creep in.
You need to be clear and, you can then make a realistic plan that resonates with you, and all of this takes some work. It takes the willingness to dig deep within and become daringly mindful of yourself and your unique wants and needs. Once attained, that clarity will provide you with the knowing of the Authentic dreams you were meant to have. This in turn, will lead you to your purpose and the ultimate fulfillment you are searching for. How would it feel to not carry the burden of the expectation of having it all?
You could choose to resist conformity and be clear and comfortable with knowing only what would truly make you happy.
You could become decisiveness and allow yourself the freedom to create a plan to achieve what you want, and it would guide you towards complete gratitude and joy. You wouldn’t have it all, but you would have just what you need to achieve what your definition of happiness is. How would that feel?