It’s begun to occur to me just how many misconceptions I used to have. Some I actively realised, and would even chariot to other people, and some I didn’t know I had… But really should have. The first one I’m going to talk about is how I always thought “Things will be better when…”, and I didn’t even realise how much credence I gave it. This is very similar to the saying ‘The Grass is Always Greener’. I just never realised how true that was.
There have been many situations in my life where I thought “It’ll get better when this happens”. The first time was when I started being less happy at University, when I was ready for it to end. I thought “I’ll be better once the essays are in, and I’m working full time” I wasn’t. The second, was when I lived in a small 1 Bed flat with my Girlfriend at the time. I thought “As soon as we’re in a house, and we have more space, we’ll get on better” We didn’t. The third was “As soon as I move out of here, and get my own place, I’ll be happier” I wasn’t. And the Fourth was, again, “When I move out of here” but coupled with “And move in with friends, I’ll be happier”. I wasn’t. In fact, that last move was when I hit rock bottom. Now, what you have to realise is that none of these situations happened instantaneously. I was happier after each move, it just didn’t last. When we give credit to thinking a certain item, or a certain place, or a certain anything will make us happier, we forget about how much happiness we get from simply the novelty of it.
Think about the last thing you bought for enjoyment. Was it a DVD? A Book? In my usual case, A Video Game? How happy did it make you when you bought it? How happy does it make you now? I’m guessing a lot less. Novelty wears off. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for quite a while.
I have stacks and stacks of Video Games, of DVDs, of Comics, and a lot of them mean less to me now than they did at the time. Do I regret buying them? Ofcourse not, but they exist as perfect examples of how novelty wears away, and it’s true in life as well. Do I regret any of the moves? No I don’t. I just wish I hadn’t given them as much ‘life changing’ credit as I initially did. It’s true your situation would impact your happiness, to some extent, but I think this is also understating how much control you can have of your own emotions. This brings me to one of my favourite quotes of recent:
“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it” – Charles R. Swindoll
Novelty wears off. The Bad wears off, the Good wears off. “Things will be better when…” is a falsehood, at least in the long run. Things may be better initially, but after awhile it’ll wear away, and you’ll be thinking “Well what next?”. The best thing to do is to actually try to make the most of every situation. Don’t let that 10% control your life. If you’re unhappy, think WHY? And what can you do about it? Obviously a lot of people feel helpless, and I really identify with that feeling as I’ve felt it a lot over the past few years. What I can say, though, is that if you try and make the steps towards being happier, if you try and change how you react to stuff, then you will find it really works. A lot of the time, when something happens to make you think negatively, it makes you think negatively about everything else as well. At least, that’s my experience. You spill a glass on a normal day? You think “Oops!” and you clean it up. If that happens on a bad day, doesn’t it seem that much worse? That just shows how easily or perspective changes based on bad moods. The cure? Try to look at your situation differently, re-frame it in your mind. Think about the positives you can get from things, and appreciate the little things. Try to think how much something matters on the grand scheme of things. Remember that time does pass, and things may be “better when…” but don’t let that take too much of the credit, always try to realize that YOU can control how you feel.
The reason I wanted to talk about this is that I have a friend currently going through it now. This is the same friend who, when finding out another friend of mine had been feeling unhappy travelling, had responded with “Why? I’d be happy if I was doing that!”. That’s how I used to think too, and maybe some of you guys do as well. Really though, you can feel unhappy anywhere, the same as you can feel happy anywhere, it’s just a little bit more of a challenge. Don’t let your situation get you down; it’s easier said than done, I know, but it works. Trust me.