On one of my training runs for the Flying Pig Marathon this year, I decided to listen to a podcast. I was doing a 14-mile long run on a blustery, sunny Saturday and wanted something that would keep my mind occupied for a good hour, so I chose Marie Forleo’s interview with Tony Robbins.
As it tends to happen when I listen to podcasts, my mind heard something that grabbed its attention, prompting it to go off in its own direction. I found myself so distracted from the conversation that I had to pause the episode just to allow myself to think.
I don’t remember what Marie and Tony were talking about that started my train of thought, but I do remember thinking about my life and everything I had. As I made my way down a hill toward Lake Michigan, I thought about the fact that I was happily married to my best friend. That I had a job as a journalist that supported our life together. That I was living in a city on the shores of a Great Lake. That so many goals and desires had come to fruition in my life.
And then I began to think about the fact that all I had done in recent months was complain and fixate on the desires that hadn’t been fulfilled. I was only focused on how much better life would be when I’d be living in a new location, in a bigger apartment, and my husband and I would have the time and money to travel around the world, and so on.
That’s when I felt a deep pit in my stomach.
God has given you this beautiful life. And all you’ve said is, “Not enough.”
I felt disgusted and ashamed. Like I was the 27-year-old version of a teenager on MTV’s Sweet 16 who had a tantrum because they got a Cadillac when they really wanted a Mercedes-Benz.
After the initial guilt came the realization that if I didn’t learn how to be happy in the present moment with what I already have, I probably never would. Because there would always be a new desire to chase after, a new goal to achieve, a bigger and better life to live.
Don’t get me wrong — I’m a firm believer that continuing to grow and challenge ourselves is a crucial component to happiness and fulfillment. Even Tony Robbins says “if you’re not growing, you’re dying.” Unfortunately I believed that as long as I was pursuing something “better,” I couldn’t be happy with my reality. Somewhere along the way I stopped thinking “I can be happy/content and want this” to “I’m not happy/content until I have this.”
Now here I am, a few months later, and the things I felt I had to have to be happy are becoming reality. My husband accepted a job at a college in South Carolina and we’ll be moving there in a matter of weeks. We signed a lease with an apartment that has nearly 300 more square feet than our current residence. Once we’re settled in, I’ll start working my butt off as a freelancer so that when winter, spring, and summer breaks roll around for my husband, we’ll have the luxury of traveling more than we would if I took another 9-to-5 that only offers a couple weeks of vacation a year.
I am thrilled that we are moving — particularly to a location that only gets snow once a year and where temps hit the mid 50s in January (yes, I did my homework). I’m thrilled that my husband found a job at a school that he has a good feeling about. I’m excited for our future and what’s in store for both of us. Even though I like Milwaukee, I never felt that it was my permanent home, and most of this year I’ve had the “it’s time to move on” itch.
But I kick myself for not appreciating my time here more. Because even though we’ll be living in a bigger apartment, we’ll be giving up the walkability we have in our current neighborhood. Even though we’ll be in a warmer location, we’ll be hundreds of miles away from the friends we made here. And even though we’ll have a pool that is much warmer than Lake Michigan (which is currently a chilling 59 degrees), we’ll now be 3 hours from a beach.
The grass is always greener, isn’t it?
I do believe we’ll be happier in our new life. But maybe I would’ve been happy all along if I had focused more on what I did have, than what I didn’t.