The Problematic "I'll Be Happy When" Mentality

“We are always getting ready to live but never living.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson



Why is it that we are always getting ready to really start living, rather than living right now?

It is like we are waiting for certain things to align before we can commit to living big, to living that happy, blissful, exceptional life.


Do you catch yourself saying…”Well, when I move to a bigger or better apartment, then I will really be able to enjoy life.”

Or… “When I finally meet the man of my dreams, that’s when I can enjoy my life.”

Or… “When I’m out of debt, then I can be happy.”

Or… “I’ll be happy when I get married….or when I have kids…”


When that is the mindset, when you are always putting off happiness until the next step happens, you will find yourself perpetually chasing that bliss, but never really achieving it. That is the age-old struggle—putting off happiness until…..(fill in the blank). We tend to think that happiness will come in a future event, but not at this moment NOW. We think that an event in the future will bring us that happiness. This is the “I’ll be happy when syndrome,” and way too many of us suffer from it.

But here’s the thing, that mindset is sabotaging your happiness, and keeping you in a state of wishing for what you don’t have, rather than appreciating and enjoying what you do have.


That negative outlook can insidiously work its way into all parts of your life, leaving you disappointed and frustrated that you haven’t finally gotten there. The reality is that you are the source of your own happiness by the thoughts you tell yourself, by the mindset you adopt, and the outlook you maintain. We need to obliterate the notion that the outside world is responsible for our happiness. That is giving the outside world way too much power. Instead it is YOU that is responsible for being happy.


In essence we need to throw out the Idea that if we are successful (at work, or by getting married, or by achieving wealth, etc.) that leads to happiness. Well Girlbosses, it is exactly the opposite! Flip that around! If we are happy, we will achieve more success.  Is it making sense?


So here are some questions you should ask yourself:


1.       Am I pursuing my passion? Is fear or anxiety keeping me from doing what I really want to be doing?

2.       Does my life feel meaningful and purposeful? Rather than just doing tedious busy work, am I making a difference and working on something significant and important to me?

3.       Am I living with passion, energy, and motivation? Is my life dull and monotonous, or is it exciting and fulfilling?

4.       Am I surrounding myself with people I love and care about? Do I reach out to them to be supportive and  positive?


Don’t allow the “I’ll be happy when…” syndrome to sabotage your life. Choose happiness today, and positive results will follow. When you realize that happiness can be yours RIGHT NOW, you will feel liberated and in control of your life. You will no longer be waiting for life to fall into place; instead, you will hold the power and the ultimate control of your own bliss.



The happiness of your life will come not from the outside world, but rather your inner world—it depends on the quality of your thoughts. It is something we create and maintain. And beyond that, it is most certainly a mindset--it is a choice we make each and every day.

Happiness is not just that elated feeling of bouncing from one joyful moment to the next.  It is more than just a positive feeling.  It is a sense of elation and fulfillment that comes from living a good life that is grounded in meaning and heartfelt satisfaction.

It is not about being happy every moment.  Truly happy people innately understand that oftentimes to sustain their happiness means pushing themselves beyond their comfort zone, to grow and experience. Studies show that happy people are in essence—curious. While this can cause some temporary discomfort or vulnerability, happy people persist because they know this will lead to an even higher level of happiness and meaningfulness.

Studies have shown that the key factors to our happiness come from three things:

  1. The quality of your social and interpersonal relationships such as a romantic relationship, close friendships, family ties, etc. play a huge role. Emotional connections are vital influencers on your level of happiness

  2. Having a job or hobby that you love and that brings you meaning and fulfillment while challenging you is another key factor.  Discovering and living your purpose is a key ingredient to overall life satisfaction.

  3. The ability to help others whether through volunteer efforts or random acts of kindness. Having the ability to give back and help others boosts our happiness level.


But there is also a genetic component that determines our happiness. Have you noticed that there are people who are inherently upbeat and chipper, while others are negative and sourly disappointed most of the time? We each have a happiness setpoint with genetics and personality as direct influencers.  So even when positive events happen and give us that emotional boost of joy, before long, like a pendulum we swing back to our natural setpoint.  As Marci Shimoff notes in her book, Happy for No Reason,

“Studies show that each of us has a "happiness set-point" -- a fixed range of happiness we tend to return to throughout our life -- that's approximately 50 percent genetic and 50 percent learned. In the same way you'd crank up the thermostat to get comfortable on a chilly day, you can actually raise your happiness set-point!”

Even with some of these predetermined factors, and with outside elements influencing our level of happiness, we still hold much of the power to attain happiness. With focused practice, you can create powerful habits for a more satisfying, fulfilling, and meaningful life.

Beyond the fact that happiness feels good, it is also good for you. Science has shown that happiness positively affects our immune system and overall health, heightened creativity, and our level of productivity.  Happiness can lower blood pressure, reduce levels of stress, help individuals maintain healthy body weight and stronger hearts.

So how do we do it? Here are some happiness hacks.

1.       Did you know that smiling actually causes your serotonin levels to go up? That’s your happiness hormone. Try smiling even if you don’t feel it yet….

2.       Stop the complain game. I’m sure you know those folks that always blame everyone else for their problems. Not only does it turn people away, but it makes you feel out of control and places you as the victim. Banish that bad habit of complaining and blaming. You have way moire control than you think.

3.       Keep a gratitude journal, or at the very least at the end of each day recall one great thing that happened that day…it can be big or small, but try to find some silver lining and show your gratitude.

4.       Jealousy is an ugly feeling. Rather than being jealous of others’ success or happiness, see it as an inspiration, and lasso it into your life. Inspiration is a positive vibe rather than the negative sentiments that jealousy conjures  up.

5.       And lastly get your vibration up gals! Try dancing it out, it always works for me!

So Boss gals, kick up your happiness meter! Remember that happiness is not something we are going to wait for ANY longer. Be decisive today….decide that you will no longer be hindered by the “Ill be happy when” syndrome. Create your happiness, own that beautiful mindset, and radiate it wherever you go!

And as Marilyn Monroe said “ a smile is the best makeup a girl could wear!”


Karen Otis