Last month I wrote about my experience creating a gratitude vision board. I mentioned that at one point during the workshop I decided that the board just wasn’t going to happen. I didn’t have the right resources – the magazines were not good enough and there weren’t enough of them. Other people had taken all the good pictures and the few I did find weren’t perfect.
The theme of the workshop was being grateful for what you already have in your life instead of thinking about what you don’t have or what you would like more of. The irony of my situation was not entirely lost on me!
It struck me that sometimes I look at the pieces of my life the same way I was looking at the pictures for my board – that I don’t have enough to make it really good. Sure, my life is pretty good, but surely if it were bigger it would be better!
I was recently listening to a talk by Deepak Chopra who said that people very often buy into ideas about what will make them happy that are not necessarily true. We think we must be hugely successful and rich. Even millionaires think they won’t be happy until they are billionaires. Basically, bigger is better.
The vision board exercise really illustrated this for me. I wasn’t happy with what I had because I thought I needed more to make something good. I couldn’t see that I actually had enough of the resources I needed to make something beautiful. All I could see was what I didn’t have.
There will always be others who have more. But happiness really comes down to your perspective. You can choose to look at the pieces of your life and say “it’s not enough, I won’t be happy until I have more” or you can choose to be pleased with, and really enjoy, what you do have.
It’s not about settling or fooling yourself. It’s about seeing what is really there and accepting it. Once I stopped focusing on what I didn’t have and started seeing what I did have, it was possible to make a really good vision board. Actually, not even just a really good board, but one that I loved. One that made me smile and feel good.
It may not be a small adjustment for all of us, but a change in focus from what you don’t have to what you do have can make a huge difference in your happiness level.