by Niall Doherty

I’ve had some things weighing on my mind recently, mostly about my future and decisions I need to make. It’s become unclear which path I’ll take these next few years. The not knowing can be tormenting at times, especially since I’ve realized that how I’m spending the majority of my time is not in alignment with my life purpose. I know that I’ll need to make some big changes down the road.

What has helped me deal with that torment is something I learned at an Art of Living course last October. Our teacher asked us to consider this question:

When will you be happy?

Think back to when you were a teenager, just finishing school. Back then, when did you think you would be happy? You were convinced all you needed was a car, a little romance, and some real adult freedom, right? Once you had all that, you knew you’d be happy.

How about when you were unemployed? All you needed to be happy back then was a job, right? For some of you, it didn’t even matter what job, just something to pay the bills. You assured yourself that once you got that job, you’d be happy.

What about me, three years ago? I was finishing college in Ireland, trying desperately to find an employer in New Orleans who would sponsor my visa. I knew that once I found that, once I was living and working in New Orleans, I’d be happy.

And now here I am three years later, very much living that definition of happiness I once had, all those dreams having come true, and I find myself feeling restless, dreaming different things, wanting more out of life. And of course there’s nothing wrong with wanting more. That desire to get more than we’ve got and become more than we are is what drives us to achieve great things. It’s primarily a gift, but it can occasionally feel like a curse in the short-term, as I’ve been experiencing recently.

And so I come back to that question — when will you be happy? — and I remember what our teacher told us five months ago: You can’t be happy in the future, because that never comes. You can’t be happy in the past, because that’s already gone. The only time you can be happy, is right now.

This moment is the only one you can control. Not the next, not the last. So choose to be happy now. Smile, be grateful, breathe deep, feel alive.