I'll Be Happy When...

Some people are miserable because they have a case of the “Whens”.  You've heard of this disease before, I'm sure of it.  This means people say “I’ll be happy WHEN . . . I get married, WHEN I get a better paying job, WHEN I get a better boss, WHEN I get more recognition, WHEN my kids behave, WHEN I can afford that new car, WHEN my spouse stops driving me crazy, WHEN I get a bigger house, etc.”  Fill in that blank as you wish, but basically it is the mentality that they are waiting for some situation or some person to make them happy.

And if you are at your wits end and you ask for advice, friends will tell you “Stop focusing on the negative and only focus on the positive (and be grateful for what you have) and then you’ll be happy.”  That's easier said than done and sometimes does not help the situation for the better.  

There is another solution than just ignoring what’s driving you bananas.  The other solution would be to try something new in YOU to change the problem.  There’s a saying, “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”  Is there another way to look at the situation in order to solve it?  I’ll show you what I mean by telling you one of my stories….

When I was first married, I wanted to be the epitome of the great wife to offer her husband a nice hot meal when he arrived home so we can have dinner together.  He made it clear to me he hated eating alone.  I arrived home from work earlier than he did, so I made sure I would anticipate when he would leave work – factor the amount of traffic he may have – and how much cooking time it would take for him to walk through the door and have a nice hot meal  Time Management is one of my super powers.

Anyway, this was a great arrangement ... when he arrived home on time.  But often he was late and it was not the traffic.  He simply would leave work late and never call to tell me only to arrive 1-2 hours later.  This would make me resentful because I could have been doing something else with my time instead of waiting for him to (our now) cold meal. I never minded if he called to tell me he was late, but for some reason he felt it was okay to keep me guessing.  This drove me insane.

Now at the time, I thought I only had one option.  “I’ll be happy WHEN he leaves on time or calls to tell me he is working late.”  It was my hope that HE WOULD CHANGE his behavior after he learned how upset it made me.  This option did not work at all no matter how much I reminded (nagged) him.  

The other (and better) option was to make dinner, eat my dinner on time regardless if he was home, and go on with my day doing what I wanted.  If he arrived in normal time we would eat together a hot meal.  If he did not call to tell me he would be late and just appear home 2 hours later, he would have a cold dinner.  This meant he would need to reheat it and eat alone (something he said he hated). But at least I was no longer resentful and he couldn't complain because he didn't let me know. Then, if he hated it enough, perhaps he would call me ahead of time to say he was late.  But at least I would be happy either way.

Keep in mind, that this other (better) option was not done for any negative reason but rather what was best for me.  Without realizing it, I was giving him the power of my happiness when that is solely my responsibility.  The decision not to wait for my husband (if he didn't call) was not to punish him, teach him a lesson, show him I was mad or anything.  Some people will continue to nag at their spouse/significant other thinking of that glorious day where the other person will change.  And maybe they will?  But what if they don't like in my story?  The only person and behavior you can change is yourself.  Really that's it, just you!

So the moral of the story was…. I did not need to wait until he changed his behavior; all I had to do was change my behavior to make me happy!  Next time you are in a negative situation, can you think of something YOU can do to change  without relying on someone or something else?  I bet you can!  But the key is, YOU are doing something and not waiting for someone or something else to change to make you happy.

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