Why And How to Stop Having I’ll Be Happy When Syndrome

stop saying I'll Be Happy When

There are 2 phrases you need to stop saying: I’ll be happy when. And If only I. Here’s what to say instead to enjoy your best life. Read on…

Note: This is a guest essay by Harriet Cabelly.

If you want to be happy, you need to ban 2 specific phrases from your vocabulary.

  • “When I…”
  • “If I…”

For example…

You need to stop having I’ll Be Happy When Syndrome

  • ‘When’ I finish school, or when I get a house, or when I lose weight, or when I get married…. “

Plus you must watch out for If Only I Syndrome

  • ‘If’ I only had more room, if I had a better job, if I were thinner, prettier, if I had more money…… 

Guess what?

Why And How to Stop Having "I'll Be Happy When" SyndromeThese “If’s” and “When’s” are all about your outside circumstances.

And only 10% of your happiness is actually based on your outside circumstances.

That’s not just my opinion. It’s a perspective based on research from Sonja Lyubomirsky, psychologist and researcher in the field of happiness and well being.

Lyubomirsky came up with a pie chart representation showing the three main determinants of happiness:

  • 50% is dependent on our genes (genetic).
  • 40% is dependent on our behaviors, attitudes, beliefs, values, actions
  • 10% is based on our circumstance.

Surprise, surprise that only 10% is conditional on our situations. 

Who would’ve thought it to be so low?

After all, so many of us are constantly and naturally saying: I’ll be happy when. And, If only I.

But low and behold, these “when’s” and “if’s” don’t really influence our well-being and happiness as much as we might think.

How can that be?

Because these “I’ll be happy when’s” and “If I only’s” are based on “externals” – which are outside of us.j

Our truest state of well being is an inside job. 

I'll be happy whenSadly, many people believe that happiness is something which is an external condition.

Yes, we can read all about lots of suicides and addictions of the rich and famous people. Yet we still haven’t gotten this notion that fame and fortune doesn’t cut it in terms of happiness and well being.

We continue to buy the fancy packaging that all we have will equal all we feel.  Even though we see over and over again that success does not equal happiness. 

In fact, research is now pointing out that the opposite is true: happiness brings success.

Great news about happiness

I'll be happy whenThis “happiness is an inside job” concept is also the 40% area which Lyubomirsky says we can control and work on!

Think about it. “Inside happiness” is all about our attitude, actions, and beliefs – which are in our control. We can shape and create those things.  With this in mind, It is up to us to intentionally do our best to create a positive attitude, self loving habits, and optimistic beliefs. 

As ‘they’ say, happiness is a choice!    

One big factor that revs up our internal system: positive feelings. 

Barbara Fredrickson, a psychologist who studies positive emotions, states that increasing this internal state helps improve our well being and opens us up to new possibilities.

So, how do we stop saying “I’ll be happy when” and “If I only”? 

1. Make time for things that bring you joy and pleasure.

Create a happiness booster list, writing down all that you enjoy – from smelling a favorite scent to listening to music to dancing…… and pick one or two things each day to input.  These micro daily boosters add renewal and nourishment to your day. I dance most mornings by myself for a couple of minutes to upbeat music as part of my exercise routine.  What a positive charge!

2. Feel grateful.

Write down a few things you appreciate every day. Allow yourself to really feel the gratitude. It’s easy to say, I’m grateful for this and that, but the key is to let the positive feeling rise up in you so it’s not just a rote exercise.   ‘WWW’ – what’s working well- is another way to frame it.    

3. Take on a challenging task. Or something out of your comfort zone. Then feel the pride. 

I recently did something that sent me reeling out of my zone.  I gave a 2 minute book pitch at a book organization where I was in the company of quite a few known published authors.  Afterwards, I did a reality check and knew I wouldn’t get much, if any, travel gigs to speak about and sell my book, because I was up against so many others. 

At first I allowed myself to feel pretty low and dejected. But then I moved into the ”Well, I did it and that says something; I put myself out there.” 

I made happiness an inside job. And chose to feel a lot of self-pride.  In fact, to this day I feel good about that.  That’s the internal stuff I’m talking about. 

I'll be happy whenIf you want to be happy…

Get inspired, by whatever does it for you. 

For me it’s discovering stories of people triumphing over adversity. 

I love reading books written by inspiring people. And watching their movies. Plus, most of all just listening to their stories. 

Plus, I work with people who inspire me as I counsel them through their challenges, as they cope and grow beyond.  I’m a curator of stories of transcendence. I even created a book out of it.

Now it’s your turn to find your happiness

  • What brings out positive emotions inside of you? 
  • What makes you well up with awe, amazement, gratitude, joy, inspiration, pride?

As you purposefully choose to manage that 40% of happiness that’s in your control, your inner world will begin to take on new depths of richness and joy.

happiness is about appreciating what you have says Harriet CabelyThis essay is written by Harriet Cabelly, an author, social worker and positive psychology coach.  Harriet counsels clients as they cope and grow beyond their grief and adversities.  She is one of the coaching experts on New York’s AM970 The Answer radio show, Conversations with Joan, and has appeared on ABC and Fox news as a parenting coach.    She published (independently) her first book, Living Well Despite Adversity: Inspiration for Finding Renewed Meaning and Joy in Your Life. Find out more about Harriet by visiting her website and/or joining her on Facebook.

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