I used to sit in my car and wonder
Is this it?
Have I finally arrived to that place in time that I have been working toward my entire life where happiness lies?
And if by all conventional standards I seem to have made it there, why don’t I feel happy?
This was a common circular conversation I used to have with myself over and over. It was typical that this conversation would be sparked while driving home from a long day of work visiting doctors’ offices.
My internal dialogue would then continue like this.
I know I should feel happy. I am so fortunate. I have a great job that is fun, pays me well, and is secure. I get to travel a lot, which I love, and I am healthy and relatively young. I have friends and family around that care about me. I am lucky.
But when I heard myself say those words it didn’t make me feel any better. In fact it always made me feel worse. Guilty. Like I was a bad person, unappreciative of all I had.
The truth was though I wasn’t unappreciative, I had worked very hard to get where I was. I had struggled, pushed myself, and focused intently to create all that was around me.
It wasn’t that I was so unhappy but more like disappointed that I arrived and this was it. Not that it was an awful or bad place to be, it just wasn’t as grandiose, full of excitement, and captivating as I had thought it would be.
Here in lies Mind Trap #1 – Happiness is something you arrive at.
It’s starts young, the programming that gets you thinking that following a specific road map will bring you the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow so to speak. Go to college, get good grades, work hard, buy a house, get married, start a family and poof…happiness is bestowed upon you.
I fell victim to this thinking. Once I find the perfect partner, once I live in the perfect city, once (fill in any circumstance you want and don’t have) then I’ll be happy.
MY TRUTH: Happiness is a continual, evolving, and challenging process that is deeply personal and ongoing. There is no end point.
I also discovered that I was simultaneously suffering from another mind trap.
Mind Trap #2 – External experiences, circumstances, or a certain level of success guarantees happiness.
I knew plenty of people “that had it all” but weren’t happy. They had the successful career, the house, the partner, and the baby. But the day to day didn’t exactly look like happiness. They were mostly worried, stressed, busy, tired, exhausted, lethargic, out of shape, depressed, etc. They had little time for their friends let alone themselves. If this was happiness disguised I remember thinking I wanted nothing to do with it.
MY TRUTH: Happiness comes from a certain satisfaction within regardless of the external, good or bad.
I mention a few of my personal “mind traps” because I think mind traps linger everywhere and are quite easy to fall victim to. They keep us stuck and inhibit us from growing, experiencing, and moving forward. In fact, usually once I remove myself from one it isn’t long before I recognize that I am falling victim to another.
I see mind traps taking people hostage all the time when it comes to creating the health, fitness, and body they desire.
Some very popular mind traps I hear are:
- I could never look like that
- I have bad genetics
- I hate depriving myself
- I haven’t made any progress
- Healthy food is bland and definitely not fun
- I already ate bad for breakfast so today is ruined
- If I exercise more I can burn off that ice cream
- I am not disciplined enough
- Exercise is boring
But by far the most common and widely repeated mind trap I hear is this…
I don’t have time to… (exercise, eat healthy, fill in the blank.)
Since this to me is the most pervasive and harmful, I think we should beat up on it a bit 🙄 . Now let me first admit that I too used to say this. Before I realized I was stuck in another mind trap. (See, I’m always in these things, they’re like booby traps set up everywhere I step in my mind).
But back to the mind trap – I don’t have time….
(Let’s use some good thinking here to outsmart and work our way out of this trap).
We all have the same 24 hours in a day. Yet some people exercise, eat healthy, meditate, and do everything else they want in a day (work, kids, errands, etc.) in those same 24 hours. So how do they do it?
It all comes down to priorities. And what you prioritize. So why not try a reframe?
My reframe: “I don’t prioritize eating healthy or exercising” – that is why I don’t seem to get it into the day.
TRUTH: When you say that, even though you are changing just one word, it becomes apparent that YOU are in control here and that YOU can change that outcome whenever YOU want.
Saying you don’t have any time is coming from a powerless place. It’s as if you have no control over your environment and the hours in a day.
And BOOM! This is the mind trap, right?
We absolutely have the power over our own 24 hours, as long as you give it to yourself.
Now you are freed!
This topic of mind traps is a juicy one that I think we can dive deeper into in upcoming posts. But for now, I just wanted to share a few of mine. To me, being aware and recognizing them for what they are – traps that keep you stuck, instantly frees you from their grip.
Look for more to come on the blog in the next several weeks around these pesky suckers… 😉