Does this sound familiar to you? “If I complete this training I will be a better person.” or “When I got that car I will be happy.” or “When I finish writing my book I will be complete”.
We always have some conditions for our happiness that mostly lie in the future. If we have this or that everything would be better. In this way our striving to something else prevents us from being happy and satisfied in the present moment.
One year ago I started my first Mindfulness training for my own business Development Workshop (Ontwikkelingswerkplaats). In my first group I had two participants. Now in the meantime I have a Dutch group with four and an English group with five particpants. There is a lot of progress and I love guiding the two groups through the 8-week program. At the same time I sometimes notice some dissatisfaction. The amount of time I spend in marketing and necesary conditions as the room and administration are enormous. Sometimes I wish that everything would go a bit more smooth and that it costs me a little less energy.
A few weeks ago I spoke with a salsa friend David. We didn’t see each other for a while and he asked me about my company. As I told him about my effort and progress he gave me a compliment. He was one of my first participants for “Mindfulness in the park” last year and he saw how I got from 1 participant, to 1, to 1, than to 4 and than to 7. While saying this, he made me aware that I fell in the trap myself. Being unsatisfied because of comparing the current to an ideal instead of being satisfied with what there already is. Thanks again David!
Last week I was enjoying a cup of coffee on a sunny terrace outside a bookshop. A mother walked out with her daughter of about eight years old. The girl looked happy with her newly bought book. I was surprised when I heard the mother saying to the child “if you read this book quickly you may choose another book”. Impressing how we human beings tend to live in the future instead of in the present moment. Always looking for more and better, instead of looking at what we have.
Why do we seem to focus on what is missing? Instead on what there already is? Looking at evolution can help us to explain. If we overlook a beautiful sunset, it doesn’t matter. Overlooking the sunset won’t put ourselves at risk dying. However, overlooking any danger would put us at risk and therefore we learned to focus on the negative to prevent, instead of on the positive. Avoiding the negative is more important than seeing the positive in terms of survival.
Sometimes we wake up as a result of the death of a loved one or after a (natural) disaster. It makes us realize how short life is and the importance of focussing on what we have and spending and enjoying time with our loved ones.
Personally Uganda and Peru learned me more to appreciate my life and what I have. It taught me that materials are not important to create happiness and it helped me to stop striving for more in a material way. When it comes to personal achievement it becomes more difficult for me. As I know that I’m not the only one in this I want to share something that has helped me: Writing down three positive happenings, experiences or accomplishments every day at the end of the day. It doesn’t need to be anything big. It can help to train our abilty to focus on the positive instead of on the shortages and lack.
Do you want to know more about me and the services I offer as a psychologist and Mindfulnesstrainer? Have a look on my webpage www.ontwikkelingswerkplaats.nl (also in English).