How to Stop Chasing the Future and Catch Today’s Joy

I’ve never wanted to be “happy” – the word holds little meaning for me.  It’s like when you say a word over and over again until suddenly you can’t even recognize it as a real word any more.  “Happy” has become unrecognizable.  This doesn’t mean that I don’t want to experience the positive aspects of life though.  In fact, I recently came to realize there is far more joy in my day than I’d ever noticed before, an insight that has changed my life for the better.

Like many of us, I’ve long been searching for something to make me feel complete, or like I’ve made it somehow.  I’ve wanted to be rich, famous, accomplished, musical, athletic – anything that made me stand out among the rest and meant I had arrived at my destination.  I wanted to be finished therapy and have read all the books you really need to understand life and relationships.  I wanted there to be an end to all this wanting and finally be there, wherever there was.

Eventually (with help of more therapy and book-reading), I grasped the ridiculousness of this desire to get to an end to my journey.  If humans are always changing and evolving, then how can we ever get to an end?  Our futures keep changing and evolving as we do.

That’s when I found what I was truly looking for, right there in front of me.  Not happiness per se, because that word has become overused and confusing (and suggests a static state of being that doesn’t align with the realities of change and evolution, which is often accompanied by fear and pain as we stretch beyond who we were before).  Rather, without having to wait for some far-off future, there are moments of joy in each day that I’ve ignored in my pursuit of the unknown and impossible.

When I let go of chasing the future, here is where I find everything I need to enhance the quality of my life:

  • in the pride I feel every time I choose to start my day with a meditation, even if it’s only 1 minute long
  • in the pleasure of being outside to walk my dog, especially when the sun is shining and warm on my face
  • in the satisfaction I get when I ignore an incoming email or text to continue focusing on the work I’m doing and actually get it done
  • in the space that is created when I turn off the radio in the car or choose to sit in silence between meetings instead of checking my phone
  • in the delight of making an unexpected connection with someone around a shared topic of interest
  • in the warm affection I experience as my husband walks in the door
  • in the creativity that is inspired when I look around my office and see different colours on every surface
  • in the appreciation I get for the birds’ singing that reminds me to look up and see a beautiful blue sky

I could go on about the joy moments that make up my day and give it its flavour.  They are unlimited, even when I’ve had really bad days.  Admitting I’m having a bad day is a joyous moment in itself – it means I’m accepting what’s real for me which allows me to deal with it directly.  

It’s been here all along, the quality of a good life.  I just had to stop looking so hard for it and notice what is right in front of me.

For your own reflection:

  1. What do find you’re always looking for in life, no matter what you’ve already got or accomplished?
  2. What’s important about that for you?
  3. How many joy moments are in your day already, that you may be ignoring?


About Me

Maggie Coulter Coaching was founded in 2009.  Specializing in career and leadership coaching for people who have experienced significant interpersonal trauma. Navigate stressful work situations and lead with confidence.

You can learn more about me here.

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