We all suffer a little from Tomorrow-itis. We think that if we do a few particular things today, then tomorrow will be much better.
Well, sometimes that’s very true: Put the ointment on the scar today and it will look better tomorrow. Do twenty minutes of crunches today and you will have stronger abs tomorrow. But in many cases, it pays to think about the fact that sometimes things don’t always need to be better tomorrow. Sometimes what you have today really is enough.
As I write about in Bright Side Up, true happiness can come from appreciating the floor models of life: as is. But that’s easier said than done. So here are 8 ideas on how to be happy with your life today, just as it is.
1. See how far your life has come. Where were you one or ten or twenty years ago? Where were you living? What were you doing for work? Who did you love and who loved you? Note all the ways you’re better off in love, or surrounded by better people, or better skilled at work—and even if you don’t love the work you’re doing, how you’re learning and growing from it every day to be better prepared for tomorrow. Maybe your physical space is better, or maybe your mental space is better. Instead of gazing to the future you wish you had, look back in amazement of how far you’ve come.
2. Stop striving for a minute. I look at my kitties Tarzan and Guinness sometimes and I’m reminded that while goals are great, sometimes so is having no goals at all. Find yourself fifteen minutes to follow a more aimless approach to your day. Sit if you want, eat if you want, or sit at the edge of your couch and do nothing at all.
3. Look at someone who has far less. The homeless guy camped out by the highway entrance? Oh, what he wouldn’t give for a day in the comfort of your “as is” life. If we look around, we may be reminded we have more than we think.
4. Notice your home for how perfect it really is. I’m obsessed with House Hunters International and at any given time, there are fourteen saved on my TiVo for whatever mood I’m in. (A country cottage in Cork for half a million? Nah. Ooh, a Nicaraguan getaway with a budget of just $200,000? I’m in!) But the show can also bring me down. Why do they have half a million extradollars to buy a second house when I can’t even afford to buy even one? This is when it’s time to shake sense back into ourselves. Houses aren’t about impressing other people or living in rooms so grand our voice echoes through it. A house is a place to protect ourselves from the elements. A place to gather with our family, our pet or our favorite books. A place to sleep at night and dress in the morning. And a place that makes us feel safe in the world, where we can always come back. If we have any of this, we have it all.
5. Appreciate what you can do. My friend Dee just said goodbye to her dog, Ciara, who had been living with an injured hip for years. And even though she couldn’t run after a ball as easily or sprint ahead on walks like her doggie sister, she was happy taking her walks slow, or just sitting in the shade of the pine tree in her front yard, gnawing on a bone.
6. Enjoy the hard work, not just the goal you’re aiming for. Reaching goals isn’t just about, well, reaching goals. Because once you get to the top of the big mountain you’ve been climbing, you’ll see that the peak isn’t astoundingly better than the journey that got you there. You can’t enjoy one without the other. The climbing is, truly, half of the fun. So tighten your laces and enjoy the work.
7. Embrace the mess. I’m a serious proponent of making my bed every day. I think it sets up a day where we feel in control and uncluttered in home and mind. But a day full of mess? That can be beautiful, too. Because it’s your mess. Dishes dirtied with food that satiated your belly, comforters crumpled from a long sleep, and sneakers in the hall that’ve had fun on your feet or your family’s. Your as is mess? It’s all yours.
8. Inhale the scent of your life. You know how you walk into someone else’s house and it just smells like them? Well, your house has a scent like that, too: Your coffee, your candles, your pets, your perfume. Really, it’s the perfume of your life. Be proud of everything that goes into the potpourri today.
9. Pretend you don’t have a tomorrow. A sure cure for Tomorrow-itis is to imagine there isn’t a day after today at all. What would you make sure to do? Who would you make sure to call? Maybe, just maybe, now’s the time to do it.