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How about now? Yeah, but how can I be happy now? I don’t have…(fill in the blank) and I’m not…(fill in the blank).

Does this sound familiar? Everybody wants to be happy, but most people believe that they cannot be happy in the present moment. They do not have what they need to be happy and they have not become the person they need to be in order to be happy. So, they believe that happiness has not arrived, yet. They will be happy later when they have certain things in their lives and when they become certain people. This means that they are prepared to be happy…in the future.

Writers have this problem. They write. Writing makes them happy, but not quite. They will be truly happy when they become successful. When will that be? Well, first, they think, it will happen when they finish their first chapter. Unfortunately, happiness rarely arrives to most of them at that time. So, they move onto the next idea. It will happen when they finish the first draft. Happiness still has not arrived? How about the first book? The first book is done, but they have not sold any, yet. Maybe, happiness will come when they sell 100 copies of the book? 1,000 copies? 10,000 copies? Okay, it is not the number of copies. Maybe, it is the number of books written. How many books does it take to be happy? One, two, three, ten? When will happiness come? They don’t see it anywhere.

People of other professions suffer from the same disease. Let’s say some dedicated intellectuals want to be professors. When will they be happy? At first, it’s seems like getting a PhD will make them happy. Graduation comes. Yes, they are happy to a degree (ironically), but not quite. After all, they need a job! Okay, a fellowship at a university seems to be a kind of success. Still, it’s not real job. A contract work to teach? A step forward. However, it is still part time and badly paid! It’s not true happiness! Maybe, they will be happy when they get a position as an adjunct professor, assistant professor, associate professor, full professor? Okay, they did it. They have a full time job. But, happiness means making a name for themselves! So, the first published article, book, being interviewed on television? When does happiness arrive? It seems to be so elusive! Where is it? Are we there, yet?

The issue is that happiness seems to be a future goal for most people.  The mantra seems to be that “I will be happy when… ” The problem is that the future always seems to remain the future. As Robert Holden teaches in his book, Be Happy (2011), happiness is not a future project. Happiness is a choice. People need to choose to be happy. This is the moment when most people pause.   What do you mean? How can I choose to be happy?

Here is a strategy for choosing happiness. This is one suggestion by Robert Holden. Take a pen and a paper. Sit down and write out one hundred reasons you can be grateful in this life. Start each sentence with “I am grateful for…”. For example, I am grateful for living in a peaceful country. Or, I am grateful for having a family. After you finish, read it out loud. At this point, you will realize that you have been lucky, have accomplished many things and have been born with wonderful talents. You will feel happy!

This means that happiness is a choice for now. It is a recognition of who you are and what you already have. It is an appreciation of what is, as opposed to what your life may still become. Happiness is not a future project to be waited on. If you keep waiting for it, you might spend your entire life in the waiting room of happiness.

So, are we there, yet? Yes, you are. You just have to realize it.

I did.  Just click on my name below.  I am certainly happy about it.

M. J. Mandoki