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I cannot tell you how often I have fallen into this particular trap, but I can assure you, the number is embarrassingly high. I am speaking of the trap I call “when everything will be OK.” It goes like this: I will get a bit anxious or worried about something in my life, and I think to myself, “When this thing gets cleared up, when this matter is settled, when I get past this ordeal or clear this hurdle or save this amount of money do this or do that – when that is over and done with, then everything will be OK.”
It’s a seductive trap because it usually has a grain of truth in it. Sometimes things actually do get better – you get that degree, that job, that mate, you safely make it to retirement with health and finances intact or you raise your children or you survive that frightening medical operation. And it’s good to have positive anticipations, especially if life is dealing you a bad hand in the present. If you’re in the midst of hard times, I hope things do get better for you – and they can.
But it’s also true that everything in life is never going to be OK according to your personal needs and desires. There will never come a time when you do not face some rather daunting prospects in life. Even if you save lots of money, exercise and eat right, make friends with everybody and have no enemies, and you do everything you can to line up all your ducks in a row, there is no guarantee that some life crisis will not come along and knock them all down. In fact, life comes with a guarantee that this will happen. Sure, we’re better at protecting ourselves than any generation in history, and we’re healthier and live longer, thank goodness. But still, you can’t completely move beyond human limitations and enter into some godlike realm where you have complete control and absolute certainty and security.
Living with the hope that things will someday be perfectly “OK” in your life is not a meaningful journey to a promised land; it is clawing through the sand after a mirage. Things will never be OK, and hoping and waiting for the day when they will be OK means that you’re not living freely and fully today. This doesn’t mean that you should live without any hope for a better time if times are really bad right now, it just means that denying the present, trying to wait it out, won’t vault you into a better world. In fact, it may keep you trapped in a hard world because you’re not facing the root causes of the dis-ease you feel.
Waiting and wishing for better times when everything will be OK is not a good life plan – because that time will never come. After fifty six years on the planet I’m sort of beginning to figure that out. So what to do? Well, if you can’t change the world to be that place where everything is OK, then the only other option is to change or re-orient your perspective so that you are OK with things being as they are. If you can’t change reality to suit your needs, then change yourself.