Living in a culture that thrives on discontentment and an insatiable need to have the next big thing, it’s easy to fall into the mindset of “if only when…”
“If only when” tells us that when ___________ happens, we can finally be happy. We can finally find peace. We will be satisfied. We will be okay. We will feel good about ourselves. We will have enough money. We will have arrived.
“If only I could get married, I will be happy.”
“If only I could get a new job, I would have enough money.”
“If only I could have a dependable car, I wouldn’t be stressed.”
“If only when…”
The problem with believing the “if only when” mentality is that it’s a lie.
Because it’s never enough.
It’s easy to look at a tall thin beautiful girl and think, “If I looked like that, it would be easy to be confident and feel pretty.” But don’t you know that that same tall thin beautiful girl looks at another girl, taller, thinner, “prettier” and thinks, “If I looked like that, it would be easy to be confident and feel pretty.”
Even the perfect models on magazine covers are Photoshopped. Why?
Because even they aren’t enough.
And richness is also a perspective. I don’t know about you, but I used to think of “richness” or “financial security” as an income level – not a subjective perspective. However, there was a study reported by Wall Street Journal reporter Robert Frank where PNC Advisors asked individuals at different income levels if they considered themselves “financially secure” or “rich.” They asked individuals that made $500,000 a year if they considered themselves “rich” and the answer was always “No, no we aren’t rich.” They then asked, “Well what would you need to make in order to feel rich?” They answered “$1,000,000.”
Then they asked individuals that made $1,000,000 a year if they considered themselves rich and the answer was always “No, no we aren’t rich.” When the advisors asked how much they needed to make in order to feel rich, the answer was $2,000,000. They continued surveying people at the next income level until they asked individuals that made $10,000,000 a year.
(Anyone not think $10,000,000 a year is rich?!)
They asked them, “Are you rich? Are you financially secure?”
The answer was, “No, no we aren’t rich.”
They asked again, “How much would you need to make to be financially secure?”
“18 million. If we made 18 million, we’d be financially secure.”
The answer was always around double what they currently made.
See? It’s never enough. There’s always more to do, get, have, pursue, change and chase after. And if you let your happiness or peace or contentment depend on any of the ever-changing variables in your life such as your situation, material things, appearance or finances, you will never be happy.
When I went to the Dominican Republic last summer, I was blown away by the deep joy that these people had. They lived in huts, surrounded by garbage with no shoes on their feet and they didn’t know where their next meal would come from. But they had a joy that was completely separate from their circumstances.
They weren’t happy because they got a promotion or unhappy because they didn’t.
They weren’t smiling because they looked a certain way or embarrassed because they didn’t.
They weren’t at peace because they had all of the answers or stressed because they didn’t.
They were just happy, smiling and at peace because they chose to be.
You won’t have peace, be satisfied, feel good about yourself or have enough money “if only when” because every single one of those aspects of your life is a perspective and a choice. And it’s your choice today, in your current situation, in your current body, with your current bank account.
Refuse to fall into the trap of “if only when,” and choose to be content today.