If you read part one, you already know that I intend on addressing how I’ve been answering the question “So, how’s life?” Just sit tight, we’re not quite there yet.
In the previous post, I discussed how having an understanding of history is important; but spending too much time dwelling on the past (whether it’s the good times or bad) can be harmful to your happiness. But what about the future?
Forward thinking is no doubt a great quality to have. It is important to have goals and know where you want to go in life. I spend a lot of time thinking about my future and taking the necessary steps to put me on the path to reach my goals. Without goals or a plan for your future, you will just wander through life living day to day, with very little sense of progress (at least none that was intentional).
But when does being future-oriented become harmful? I’ll give an example of an instance when having a plan for the future and being wrapped up in that future may cause someone to make premature decisions in order to attain this future as soon as possible. Many people seem to have a strong desire to find someone to spend the rest of their life with, you know, settle down and get married. This is how a lot of people envision their future.
Where this can be dangerous is when it becomes a person’s only goal in life. There is nothing wrong with wanting to get married, but you’d better make sure you are ready for the commitment. Rushing into a relationship because of your desire to get married, or the desire to not be alone, is tempting, but could be compared trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. If you think a successful marriage will bring you a happy and fulfilled future, you’d better make sure you are setting your marriage up to be successful.
The desire to be married was an example of how being future-oriented may cause you to make choices or take action before you are ready, but what about those who let the future inhibit them from making choices?
I used to live by the way of thinking (and still do sometimes) of “When this happens, then I can do that” or “When this, Then that” for short. What this means is I used to have my future planned out to the point where everything had to happen in a certain sequence in order for me to truly reach my goals.
For example, the proper sequence for my success (the simplified version, of course) would go something like this: First, I graduate high school. Then I go to college. In college I will choose a major. After graduation, I will find a job and pay off student loans. Once established, then comes finding a wife. After the wife comes kids, and so on and so on…
As you can see, this way of thinking limits the choices you can make or the experiences you may have. I can’t get married until I have graduated and find a job. But what if I meet the person that I’m supposed to marry in high school? Does that mean I have to wait four plus years until I have finished college and have a career to be in a committed relationship? Can you see how “When this, Then that” thinking can be limiting?
Being completely focused on the future causes it’s problems, while dwelling too much on the past is not the answer either. So, what is the key to living a happy life?
In part III, I’ll be discussing the Present and how living in the now can affect a person’s happiness. I hope I still have your interest.
Until next time….