Are You A When/Then Person?

For a LOT of years of my life, I was not a very happy person.  I wasn’t ever really passionate about my earlier career, I didn’t have a husband or family, I didn’t even have a dog for a lot of years.  I worked, I had some fun with friends, but for the most part, I just existed, putting one foot in front of the other with no real consciousness.  I knew I wasn’t too happy but I figured, when I get to this level of my career, I’ll feel accomplished and happy, or when I can buy this object, then I’d be happier.  When I meet someone special, I’d be happier.  I had a lot of “when/then” moments.  Problem was when I got to the “then” part, I was happy for a short spell, but the joy quickly dissipated and then I was left with wondering what the next “When/then” should be.

Fortunately, I did a lot of work on myself especially after an arsonist torched and destroyed my home.  I worked all those years at a job I really didn’t care for to have a lot of stuff that I really didn’t care that much about but I had to work harder to earn more to maintain them and here it was gone in a blink of an eye.  Crazy thing was that I found a gift from that fire.  (It is a gift that I never want to repeat and the person that did it hopefully has to watch out for Karma.)  The fire led me to a path to do that really deep and hard look inside myself.  And, one of the things I learned from that inner work was how I used these “when/thens” to divert me from what was really needing to be tended to and that was Me.

I learned that it wasn’t the end goal or the “then” that was so important as the path to get there.  We goal oriented people get so locked on that end state and final goal that we don’t pay attention to the steps to get there.  Those steps we often see as the mere requirements just to get to that end point.  But what is in each of those steps is amazing stuff if we stopped to recognize them.  Plus, we also realize that there are many more opportunities that we blow by when we are so focused on that final “then”  end prize.

I’m still a goal driven person, but I also greatly appreciate the process and the day to day stuff.  Animals have taught me about living more in the moment.  My alpaca, Jamilah, who is very wise, communicated to me about understanding being in the moment and appreciating not just that instant, but in that moment, it can mean everything.  We humans tend to want to have a LOT of validation.  We can be quite the empty vessels of neediness. One day, I was out with my alpacas and I was really upset and sad.  I walked out to Jamilah and communicated intuitively to her that I could really use some time with her.  She was grazing but stopped, walked over to me and gave me a kiss.  But then, she walked away to go back to graze.  I was so upset.  My personal stuff came spewing out.  “Is that all I get? One kiss and then you go back to grazing?  After ALL I do for you?”  I heard in my head, “I gave you what you asked for.”  It stopped me dead in my tracks.  I pondered on what Jamilah communicated to me and realized she was right.  This alpaca who’s nature is to not want to be around a human, had stopped her grazing, walked over on her own merit to a human, and gave a kiss.  It wasn’t trained behavior like a trick, it was genuine compassion.  My tears flowed down my cheeks as I realized that it wasn’t the quantity or length of time the compassion give, but the real genuineness of it.  That moment, that single brief moment changed my life.  I appreciate genuine acts of kindness so much more deeply whether it from an animal or a human.  I don’t need to wait for another when/then to appreciate and experience things.  It happens in single moments like the one I had with Jamilah.

If you aren’t sure how to go about changing your life to be more in the moment, observe your pet.  They are experts in living in the moment.  Mimic them in appreciating that moment of greeting them.  When I walk in the gate, I’m greeting with such happiness.  I could have just run to the post office two minutes away but when I get back, I’m greeting so heartily.  I greet them now the same way.  I’m truly happy to see them.  I’m not waiting for some moment, some behavior to be satisfied and “Then” be happy with them.  It is simply in the moment.  Making that a practice has made me a more genuine human and the when/then’s just are not the life driver that they once were.  Give it a try!