Are You Stuck in the “I’ll Feel Better When” Cycle? by Diana Hill, phD
This article (below) makes a lot of sense. I sort of stumbled on to this sort of thinking on my own in the last few years.
It helps to be content in the present, and to live in the present, too.
If you sit around with the attitude that you cannot be happy unless or until “X” happens in your life, well, if “X” never comes to pass, you’re condemning yourself to a life time of misery.
If you worry too much about the future or sit around feeling sad about things from the past, you’re never going to be happy. I’d rather enjoy each day, rather than worry or fret about the past or the future.
I don’t want to arrive at the future, look back with regret, and see how much time I wasted each and every day ruminating on past disappointments, or that “X” never happened for me.
Of course, I still fail at this at times, but as I’m getting older, I’m getting a little better at living in the present – not worrying all the time about the future or feeling sad or angry about the past.
If you’re someone with depression, or a tendency to have a pessimistic personality or attitude, if you want to guarantee you’ll never move that depression or sour attitude even an inch and actually ever enjoy life, then, by all means, continue to fixate on what you don’t have in life, or feel like you were owed and never got – that will keep most people trapped in a bad attitude, or depression, rather than enjoying life.
- When it comes to big aspirations, it’s beneficial to reflect on the good within more minor accomplishments along the way.
- Often people’s “feel better when” comes from their mind’s capacity to imagine what will happen in the future.
- Know when good enough is good enough. Try not to waste energy on maximizing things that don’t matter.
We are often caught in the trap of believing that we’ll feel better at some point in the future when life circumstances change. Clients will frequently tell me (and I’ve told myself):
“I’ll feel better when…”:
I’m done with school
I find my life’s partner
I have a baby
I’m less anxious
I lose weight
This work project is done
The pandemic is over
But what happens when that future never arrives, or if it does, you’ve already moved on to the next “I’ll feel better when?”
Allison Briscoe-Smith described this striving as having a “bitter aftertaste” when I interviewed her for the From Striving to Thriving Summit. So what can we do instead?
[Visit their web page to see tips 1 and 2]
3. Be a satisficer. Know when good enough is good enough. Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice, has well documented that folks who are satisfied with what they have are happier in the long run than those who keep working to maximize their options. Becoming satisficer ( may bring some discomfort and Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) or Fear of a Better Option (FOBO).
However, FOMO and FOBO may be a good thing when it means you are no longer wasting your precious energy on maximizing things that don’t matter to you.
Some have termed this JOMO! (Joy of missing out!) Pick out the good enough outfit, select the good enough restaurant, stop at the good enough work and spend your energy enjoying the life you are in!
4. Attend to process over outcome. Savor what it feels like to be on the journey rather than focusing on endpoints. How does moving your body feel when you exercise? What does learning and working toward mastery feel like right now?
How do curiosity and perspective-taking change your experience in relationships? Focus on the bewilderment of the process. Savoring is a crucial mindset of happier people. Your life is now. Enjoy it!
[I will not be copying tip 5 here on my blog, so click the link above if you’d like to see all the tips]
We don’t have to wait for a future point when we feel better to start living fully.