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When You’re Busy Looking for Happiness in the Future

Man Looking Through Binoculars

“You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop. Seek the wisdom that will untie your knot. Seek the path that demands your whole being.” ~Rumi

It seems like there is so much busyness in the world today. When was the last time you stopped to focus on your breath and to truly settle into the moment?

When we’re busy, we don’t always prioritize these precious moments of full presence with our own aliveness.

Being busy can become like an addiction, an urge that drives us compulsively. But what are we really looking for in all those things that keep us busy?

A friend recently told me she’s been busy for four years renovating her house. Now that it’s almost done, she doesn’t feel what she thought she’d feel. “It’s just a house, but it doesn’t necessarily feel like a home.”

I’ve found that the circumstances we think we want aren’t always what we truly want; we want the feeling we perceive it will give us. We believe changing our lives is going to give us a sense of completion or happiness.  

For many years, I had a vision of what my perfect life would look like—as if that picture of happiness was a destination.

I spent my life chasing a sense of freedom. I stayed unhappily busy in a career that promised financial security so I could eventually do all the things I loved in the future.

I was busy assembling an idea of happiness, but every time I got something I thought I wanted, I felt unsatisfied.

When I established my career, I then looked for “the one” romantic relationship. When I got that, I felt happy, but I always felt I needed more to complete my perfect picture.

I once heard it said that there is nothing wrong with ego, it’s just looking for love in all the wrong places. I was looking for freedom and completion in my circumstances.

When you’re looking for love in your circumstances rather than in who you are inside, right now, in the present, you experience your life like a shell. Just like a house, it’s empty on the inside.

You might have experienced it for yourself when you worked hard toward a goal but it didn’t give you that feeling of completion or satisfaction when you achieved it—and if it did, it was temporary.

As soon as I realized I was chasing happiness in the future, I stopped. I radically started living for the now. I followed my heart into a new business, out of old relationships, and into new adventures moment to moment.

Every time I acted on my heart, I felt an immediate sense of love that was different from what I felt when I made choices for love in the future.  

Searching for completion in your circumstances is, in a way, looking for your sense of self in them.

There have been times when I’ve gotten lost by misidentifying what I do with who I am.

If you derive your sense of self, or boost your idea of happiness through your life circumstances—your job, your financial security, or your relationships—it’s going to be painful when those things change form.

The key is to stop making any of your circumstances mean something about who you are.

When you find your sense of self in the wholeness of truly living for the now, you free yourself to occupy any life shell. Your contentment comes from who you are, which has nothing to do with what you do, what you have, or what you’ve accomplished.

You can accomplish great things in this life. But when you know yourself at the depth of your being first, you don’t pursue goals to complete yourself; you pursue them to express yourself in the world, because you feel a love for expression as an extension of your love of life.  

There is nothing wrong with being busy, but it can distract you from the love that’s already present in who you are at a level of being.

It’s in moments of silence when I’ve laid down the chase for change that peace has found me, where I have wanted for nothing except just being alive. Happiness happens when you stop looking for it.

So what are we all really looking for? I believe we are looking for ourselves in our hearts, the one we already are and always have been. I believe we are looking for a state of being—love, that feeling of happiness for no reason.

Here is how we can find it:

1. Slow down.

Pause. Recognize why you’re busy and see if you can do less. Embrace the discomfort that comes from stopping, and notice what you are avoiding by being busy. Be willing to sit in that discomfort.

2. Stop focusing on externals.

Stop pursuing goals with the idea that you’ll be happy when you achieve them, and put that energy into connecting with your heart. This will relieve the need to fix, improve, or change things out of fear.

3. Know what matters to you.

Ask yourself what’s truly important for you in your life. If you were going to die in one year, what would you do in your remaining time?

4. Do what makes you come alive.

Find the things that move you in your soul and create those experiences that touch your heart. It’s one step at a time, moment by moment.

Be willing to turn your life upside down if you need to—get radical—and find support from those who also live by the movements of their heart.

Man looking through binoculars image via Shutterstock

About Kirra Sherman

Kirra supports others to experience more aliveness and awareness, to make decisions from the heart, and realise the happiness not dependent on circumstances, but in who you are in your heart. 33% off the “Settle into the Moment” 5 minute Meditation ($5 off) designed to bring you out of fear-driven busyness and into your heart: use code TINYBUDDHA here.

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  • Kirra you are so right. I spend years studying thinking that after grad school with several masters degrees I would feel good about myself and my accomplishment. On the day of graduation I was alone and sad. I collected my certificates like every one else but I was dying inside.
    I realize that accomplishments doesn’t necessarily brings happiness. I was delaying everything that I loved for the future and when the future arrived I was not happy.

  • You are so right. It is very important to know what you want. That’s where many people fail to live happily.

  • kathee

    I remember lying in my room when I was in high school and writing in a journal to my future husband. I’d write all sorts of notes and questions and things I’d wonder or ask this man when I eventually met him. I would wonder where he wasS and what he was doing and if he was thinking about me too. It has always been such a strong desire in my heart to find a wonderful man to marry, someone who would love me and cherish me and appreciate me for the person I am. I always thought I would get married right out of college, just like my parents, so when that plan didn’t work out, I started to get discouraged. A school mate snatched my future husband away from my arms just because she had spiritual powers, all hope was lost to me before i came across the help doctor (prayerstosaverelationship@gmail.com
    ) who i confided in, i told him my long story and he helped me regain back my lover with his prayers which is now my husband today. if you have any problem email the help doctor (prayerstosaverelationship@gmail.com
    ).

  • Jahnvi

    Thank you for sharing wonderful insight.

  • Juliet

    1 and 4 above are definitely conflicting advice no matter how you look at it- you can’t do less AND do what makes you come alive. Number 1 needs further explanation…or to be more specific!