Friday, February 28, 2014

The Dreaded "If Only"

If only I had a real job, if only I was ten pounds lighter, if only it stopped snowing...they strike again, the dreaded  " if onlies." If only {insert some life event} happened I would be happy. These two little words reek havoc. After all, is happiness truly contingent on change? Eckhart Tolle wrote, "The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it.” I know my life is fabulous, I am grateful for all that I have: a wonderful partner and family, I live in a gorgeous home surrounded by acres of wooded land, I am healthy and I have an amazing network of friends I can call anytime I need. So why do I want more? It is hard not to slip into the negative, what is lacking in my life today, a full time job, extra money for luxury products, a newer car, a husband.  I find that if I let my guard down old negative thoughts surface.

I keep thinking, when I get that full time job I will be fulfilled. I have been looking for a full time job in teaching, a field I fell into by accident, a field which makes me happy. I love the creative aspect of teaching, the planning, and creating new ways in which to get information across. But it is a hard field to break into. I have been trying for a few years now, interviewing and receiving the dreaded rejection letter in the mail. If only I could land a full time teaching position I would be truly happy and fulfilled, and be able to pay my bills to boot. But is that statement true? Would a job really change me? Intellectually I know the answer to that question is no. As Tolle points out in many of his books, happiness is an inside job. He wrote, “Pleasure is always derived from something outside you, whereas joy arises from within.” Maybe I have been focusing too much on pleasure and not at all on joy. I practice gratitude on a daily basis, but even my gratitude lists contains many external things: my family, healthy, home, and my friends. Will that new job bring me merely pleasure? Is pleasure enough? What I have found is that externals can be taken away, the laptop can be stolen, the photographs burned in a house fire, the lover leaves, the car totaled. I have learned these lessons already. How do I access joy? I have a feeling that prayer and meditation might be part of that equation, accessing the interior / spiritual world, rather than the external. Is gratitude enough? This post has proked more questions than answered. But life is a process. If only I knew the answer.

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