Thought Versus Reality
Have you ever wanted something because you thought it would make you happy, and then quickly realized when you got it, it wasn’t as great as you thought it would be?
People think, if they could just lose ten pounds, they would be happy. They imagine if they could just find love, or had married someone different, they would be happy. Many think if they had more money, they would be happy. If they had a new car, or the home of their dreams, they would be happy. What people fail to realize is that they are really just looking to be happy. Happiness does not come from external things; it comes from within, and acknowledging all the great things we already have in our lives.
A couple of months ago, I convinced myself that I had to have a new bike. I wanted a cute beach bike that I could ride casually with my toddler on the back. I already had a bike with a baby seat on it, and was perfectly capable of using that one, but was certain that having a different one would change everything. I noticed all the people who were riding the kind of bike I convinced myself I had to have, and truly believed if I got one, I would be thrilled.
Well, I ended up getting the new bike, and the funny thing is, it wasn’t all that I imagined it would be. I was excited when I first got it, but quickly realized what I already had was good enough. It was the story in my head that had me convinced having the new bike would somehow change my life for the better.
This is obviously a small example, but people do this on a much larger scale all the time. I’ve had clients who are convinced if they were in a relationship, they would be happy, only to discover themselves constantly complaining about their partner when they found one. It was the fantasy of what being in a relationship would be that was amazing, and not the reality of it. I’ve had clients who thought if they lost ten pounds, their whole life would improve, later find out they were still miserable after losing the weight. I’ve spoken to people who complain about not having enough money, and when their financial situations improved drastically, they found new things to complain about.
The same is true when we are dreading something. People often dread things like business trips, a night out when they think they’d rather stay in, or a conversation that they think will be difficult. People spend hours, days, weeks, or even months fantasizing about how awful a situation will be, only to find out nothing actually went as they had expected, and the reality wasn’t so bad after all!
This is because our thoughts, are just that…thoughts. There is no reality to thoughts, only speculation based on previous experiences, hopes, and fears. Our thoughts are just stories, and have a way of gripping us so we aren’t present in our lives a lot of the time.
Some people think if they regularly prepare themselves for the worst, they will be able to handle life’s struggles better. All this does is make you feel bad in this moment, and this moment is truly the only thing that is real. The past is gone, and cannot be changed, and the future is just an idea in our heads.
Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t ever plan ahead or reflect on the past, but if you find yourself worrying, obsessing, or having any other crappy feelings in regards to the past or future, remind yourself that it’s just your thoughts that are making you feel that way, not reality.
Focusing on all that is good in our lives is a way to combat this pattern…focusing on the concrete things that are real. Becoming aware of your thoughts, and realizing they are just stories, can bring you back to reality too. People say perception is reality, but if you are conscious of your thoughts, perception doesn’t have to be your reality. You can learn to question those thoughts when they don’t feel good, and realize that you have all that you need right now in this moment, and you have the power to make your reality a happy one!!