Photo by Neil Thomas on Unsplash
By Janice Gervais
How is it possible to stay in the present moment while setting goals for the future? Doesn’t planning for the future mean you’re not happy with something in your current situation? Why would we set a goal to make a change in our life if we’re happy and content in the current moment?
One can be at peace or content with any situation, but that does not mean you want to stay in that situation. In his book Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl describes finding meaning while being in a Nazi prison camp. Was he happy to be in a prison camp? Hell no. Was he able to find purpose in that moment? Yes, amazingly he was. Did he want to be somewhere else? I’d say more than likely yes, but the reality is that’s where he was. And he chose to find meaning and peace in it.
There are certainly things in my life that I want to change. (This all seems so minor after comparing it to Viktor Frankl in a Nazi prison camp, but bear with me, this is just what’s going on in my little slice of the world!)
The thing that’s driving me crazy right now is where I live. My house is not energy-efficient. It’s always dark due to its orientation and the proximity of a dozen huge trees. The land is hard to work with, there’s no space or sun for a garden with the trees the way they are. And the nearby road is so damn loud.
I find myself feeling down about this; I want a new house right now. I want to move right now. And because it’s not happening right now, I feel like that means it will never happen for me. I fall into an old story that I can’t have nice things. I get frustrated that I can’t get all the pieces together right now. And I get frustrated that my husband isn’t as driven about moving as I am. I think if I show how unhappy I am here that that will show my husband the urgency of moving. I want my dreams to come true right now, and until they do, I will let everyone know this is not what I want. If I’m happy here decorating the house, fixing it up, doing yardwork, and encouraging the kids to make neighborhood friends, then I feel like I’m sending the wrong message that I’m content living here and I want to stay here.
But the fact is, I do live here right now.
I can be happy and content and just decorate and do yardwork so it looks beautiful and enjoyable while we’re here, or I can mope, point out what’s bad, make comments all the time about how dark it is, and make no effort whatsoever to make this house enjoyable. Those are the options; the fact that I live here right now does not change in either of those scenarios.
Happiness, peacefulness, and contentment are not synonymous with stagnation, indecisiveness, or doubt. Just because you’re happy or content in the present moment does not mean you want to stay in that moment forever. Viktor would certainly have left the prison camp at the very first presentable opportunity, obviously.
Being happy and at peace in the current moment leaves you open to setting goals for the future with a sense of fullness and possibility, not a sense of dissatisfaction and lack. You’ll be able to clearly see opportunity when it knocks instead of being blinded by your own anger and close-mindedness.
She would travel and eat for a living if someone would pay her to do that, until then, Janice Gervais is a freelance web and marketing strategist with over 14 years experience. She has two daughters, an entrepreneur husband, three dogs, and a random number of chickens that fluctuates throughout the year. She’s addicted to learning new things – the current obsession is the need to design and build a certified Passive House. Last year it was mushroom tinctures and herbal remedies. Who knows what’s next.