Throughout my life, I’ve often found myself feeling like life is about to start.
When I was in middle school, I thought life would really start once I was in high school. When I was in high school, I thought life would really start once I was in college. When I was in college, I thought life would really start once I had graduated. When I graduated, I thought life would really start once I had secured a job and rented an apartment. When I secured a job and rented an apartment, I thought life would really start once I met “the one.” When I met Riley, I thought life would really start once we got engaged. When we got engaged, I thought life would really start once we got married. When we got married, I thought life would really start once we bought a house. Now we’re in a house, and I find myself thinking that life will really start once we have a baby, travel to X location, find a great community, move to a new place, etc.
This line of thinking is insane. Life has already started!
There’s no milestone or event that will make life really start. Life has started. It’s going! I can’t make my life any more real than it is today by accomplishing something, meeting someone, or going somewhere. Life has already started.
It boils down to contentment
On pondering this further, I’ve come to realize that this feeling of life being about to start reveals a deeper issue: contentment. When I am content, my life and thoughts don’t revolve around what’s coming next because I’m actively thankful for where I am.
According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of contentment is: the quality or state of being contented.
The same source notes the definition of contented as: feeling or showing satisfaction with one’s possessions, status, or situation.
Over lunch the other day, I brought this topic up with Riley and asked him if he’d ever thought about life in this way. His exact response? “I think I’m like a dog. I’m just happy all the time so I never really think about the future, I just think about how happy I am right now.” I laughed and thought that’s the definition of contentment. Upon further investigation, it literally is.
How to avoid “life’s about to start” syndrome
If there were one simple and easy way to stop the constant forward-looking, I’d write a book about it and sell a million copies. The truth is, contentment is a daily choice. It’s every day, looking at life and being thankful for it, exactly as it is. Gratitude doesn’t require perfection or completion. We can choose to be thankful and content now even as we look forward to what the future holds. We can choose to be content through challenging circumstances and situations. Contentment is a personal, daily choice.
“…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” -Philippians 4:11-13, NIV
As a Christian, I find great contentment through my faith. Because I know God holds my future, I can trust Him and be grateful for where I am in life right now. Because life isn’t about to start–it already has.
// Do you ever feel like life is about to start? How do you ground yourself in contentment? I would love to hear your thoughts on this!
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Mrs. Rooks says
Last week I came across the quote from Annie Dillard, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” It’s so true! It really causes me to want to have more productive, fruitful days full of goodness. In turn, I can have a productive, fruitful life full of goodness. Our lives really have started and they truly are what we make them to be!
MAN can I relate to this!!! I have been guilty of wishing my life away on SO many occasions. And Riley’s reaction is so much like my own husband’s LOL. He just doesn’t think that way, and its hard to help him understand what I feel! Contentment is a daily choice I’m failing at most days right now… But this was such an encouraging reminder that I CAN choose it. It just takes being intentional and focused for me.
Getting out of that “life will start when…” mindset has been difficult for me over the last few years. Part of it is that I’ve been in grad school for 4 years, so there was no real consistency to my schedule (did not enjoy that), and I lived life by semesters, always looking forward to what was next for my rotations or my classes or what-have-you. Now, I’m done with school, I’m taking some time off before I start my new job, and I am working *really* hard to just enjoy life in the present moment. It’s a challenge, but a worthwhile one.
Claire B. says
Oh yes, I’ve constantly felt like this for the past few years! Life was always about to start once I’d gotten to college, graduated, gotten engaged… pretty much what you described to a pin. I love the idea that contentment is a choice that you make every day.
Something that’s helped me with this lately is picking up new hobbies. Instead of saying, “oh, I’ll learn to cook [some special dish], knit, speak a new language, etc. later,” I’ve just been trying them out! I’d forgotten what it feels like to really be learning and to be engrossed in something, and it makes me feel content that I’ve actually just started something, instead of putting it off until the future.