Be Prepared, but also be Happy
Does happiness only present itself under a certain form of autonomy? Or rather, the more autonomous our actions, the greater chance we have of being perpetually happy? I guess I am asking these questions, because A) I am generally asking myself a lot of “unanswerable” questions and B) because I have found myself to be quite unhappy of late.
Fortunately, my unhappiness is not of the chronically depressed kind, but unhappiness stemmed from my miscalculated expectations. Recent expectations have not met my reality of things, naturally leading to quite a lot of disappointment. And although I’d like to think I generally handle minor disappointments quite well, these have been nothing minor.
Regardless, I found myself pondering over all these miscalculations and excessively trying to anticipate the next two months of my life — no doubt adding to the sate of depression I was beginning to feel. Yes, I have heard it all before…
Something about, “…worrying makes you feel pain twice.”?
“There is no point, you cannot predict the future”
“Embrace the uncertainty, because worry is a waste of time”
*Sigh. Yeah, yeah.
That may all be true, but worrying in anticipation has helped me probably as much as it has burdened me — it’s my favourite double edged sword.
Thinking and essentially worrying about the future has always been my from of mental preparation and I am kind of tired of being told not to do it all the time. I’d like to think that my kind of thought processing somehow relates to the“ The Secret”, an idea I remember being introduced to me early in my childhood by my best friends parents. At the time, I couldn't quite understand what “Positively visualize your future and you will attract it” meant, let alone why we were watching a movie that wasn’t Harry Potter. I do, however, recognize that my approach is less about positive visualization and more about realism and the possible, multiple outcomes of a situation.
I am not a medium nor am I trying to predict the future, but rather weigh up my options. If I am able to think of multiple scenarios and how each may play out according to my decisions (obviously no exact science here, instead just a lot of guess work), I can adjust my expectations accordingly — ultimately attempting to avoid things like disappointment, pain and further uncertainty.
Coming from a childhood where this was necessary, as a young adult, I have only just begun to understand some of the patterns of my own thinking. As gratifying as it might be to begin to understand why you think the way you do, it can at times be as equally sad. As a child I struggled through a lot of goodbyes, empty promises and lies. Adversity, has been my greatest teacher, through it I learned some of the greatest downfalls of people and the sometimes shit luck of life, intimately — therefore I anticipate them.
We all experience pain, we all know it’s inevitable. I know that I am going to get hurt many more times in my life, experience more goodbyes, more empty promises, more lies and further shit luck, but like the diligent kid I always used to be, I like to be prepared — even if it is just in a false sense of the word.
To imagine an outcome, to adjust expectations, to have your expectations meet a unwanted, yet conjectured reality — is about as shit as not having anticipated it to all to begin with. It still hurts, because it takes the heart longer to catch-up to the head (thank you Frozen for reiterating a lesson I first learnt from John Green). I also believe part of better dealing with pain is just that, the preparation of the mind; knowing why the pain is there and accepting it. Expecting, then knowing and accepting brings a me a much greater mental stability than being blindsided.
Worrying might never help the reality of your current situation, but to some extent I believe it has better prepared me for life after disappointments. The downside to always attempting to be prepared is that if you don’t consciously switch to autopilot occasionally and fully immerse yourself in your happy experiences— you’re going to miss it, only to be watching the storm on the horizon.