When I was a kid, I needed everything to go my way. If I wanted something, I became tunnel-visioned with only the end goal. It didn’t matter if it made no sense or that along the way a pivot in navigation was necessary. I knew if I got what I wanted, I would be happy. I was kind of nuts. It was simply my way or the bloody highway. And I wouldn’t quietly wish this, no, I would make it known. I would stomp my feet on the ground, I would be dragged out kicking and screaming, and I would fight to the death. So what if I was 10-years-old on a school night at 9PM and it was bedtime, it didn’t matter the age, the day, or the time. I had a stubborn streak stronger than steel and it almost took a healthy dose of horse tranquillizer to neutralize me each time.
At that age I knew the only thing that mattered was the destination; the ‘destination’ could have been a specific wish, goal or it could have been a physical place. My little philosophy was reinforced by society’s popular childhood mantras: go big or go home, dream big, never stop chasing your dreams. Do you think we are inadvertently taught that we need more and more and more to be happy and happier and happiest? For me, with age and awareness came a sense of understanding that not all things desired turn out to be as they seem. I think the idea of “dreaming big” gives us all a false sense of security. For instance, if you’re always dreaming big then that means you’re always in motion, always chasing, doing something with purpose. That was me. But somewhere along my journey, I realized I was someone who was always pursuing the next best thing (the very definition of destination addiction). And I was always using this as an excuse for my unhappiness. If only I had this, acquired that, finished this, achieved that… I would be happy.
Do I have ambition and goals? Sure! Do I only hope for good things for myself? Of course! The only difference now is that I no longer associate these goals with my personal happiness. I think there was a time when I needed the activeness of that pursuit. But is there really anything wrong with continually being on the chase? Well, maybe, because realistically if you’re always on the chase then you probably don’t have time to stand still. And standing still is where I’ve been able to find my greatest joy. It wasn’t always like that, though. For a long time, I found it difficult to sit with contentment. I wonder if it was because the word itself somehow alluded to the idea of settling. I worried that people may perceive my contentment as being okay with average, fine with ‘just enough.’ Why take one star when the whole universe is up for grabs? But that’s not how I define contentment. I see it as having appreciation for where you’re at and what you currently have.
I read a great quote recently: “Don’t forget how badly you once wanted what you have now.” That hit me hard in the gut because it made me realize how much time some of us spend running on the spot or spinning our wheels. Right now, wherever you are in your life, you once very likely wished for what you have. Listen, you may not be at your life’s ultimate destination, you may not be the happiest you hoped to be, but at some point, maybe when you were 8 or 17 or 31, you hoped to be where you are now. And here you finally are. How will you celebrate it? How will you enjoy it? In realizing this, I knew that if I didn’t appreciate what I currently have, I would never appreciate what I would eventually acquire. And so, what then would be the point?
Dream those dreams but learn how to stand still too. Be content with what you have instead of waiting to be happy with what you hope to eventually have.
This post was inspired by fellow bloggers, Bill from A Silly Place and Michelle from Boomer Eco Crusader. Bill coordinated a collaborative post with many writers from the blogosphere asking everyone to write about things they believe in. Michelle contributed to that collaboration by writing about what she believes in, simultaneously introducing me to the idea of destination addiction. Please take a moment to check out their blogs for more insightful posts.
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