Sorry, the Life you Wanted is Currently Out of Stock

ImageDid you ever wonder if people living in third world countries sit around wondering what life would be like if….. (fill in blank here)? Is attempting to design our lives something that all humans contemplate or is it a manifestation of our society? Are we bred or designed to think in terms of what if?

I think the first time I was introduced to the concept of, there might be something better out there, happened when I saw Cinderella as a little girl.  You know the story, the down and out princess, abused by her stepmother and stepsisters dreaming of someone to love her and take her away from the hell.

Then there was Casper the Friendly Ghost. He was the child ghost harassed by his emotionally abusive uncles and longing for acceptance and love. I think if I really put my mind to it, I could name hundreds of characters or media sources depicting the theme, there must be something better out there.

In every case I can think of, the lead character gets to a point where they can’t take it anymore and attempts to force a change hoping for the better. But what is better and how do we decide when what we have is not good enough?

In my counseling practice I have seen people who appear happy living in relationships and in environments plagued with difficulties. On the flip-side, I’ve seen miserable people in what looks like great relationships or having more than enough money to live very comfortable. Where does the difference come from?

I’m sure you have heard the saying, when life hands you lemons, make lemonade. If you are one of the billions of people thinking or searching for the, there must be something better, this probably seems infuriating.  It got me wondering. If everyone lived by that saying, where would the world be?  Is the act of making lemonade a kin to fight the good fight or accept and learn to live with lemonade?

All these questions are important because depending on your beliefs, this maybe the only opportunity to live your life.  Are you going to buy into the somewhere out there life is better or things are great just the way they are? Of course there is any combination of both options that people vacillate between.

How many divorces occur because there might be something better? How many wars fought because owning someone else’s land, people or forcing your way of life on another group of people might make life better?  Only to have that something better happen and be startled that the something better is not that better after all.  Note I am not talking about people in abusive relationships.

The idea of, let’s get back to the good ole days is another example of this phenomena. I saw a book in the Smithsonian American History Museum entitled, The Good Old Days They Were Terrible!, by Otto Bettmann. It asserts that the concept of the good old days is a myth, a trick of the mind. If you look at the reality of our history, personal, national and global, he’s right.

I think this backward looking fantasy is not much different then, there might be something better out there, which is forward wishing.  In both cases the person has judged their current life as not acceptable.  How does this serve us, help us?

When I was in Northern Africa, I didn’t hear people saying things like, I’m an anchovy fisherman now but one day ……  Maybe they were hoping for a different future or desiring a glossed over remembrance of a life long ago and I was not made privy to their desires.

I have friends who spent a couple weeks in Haiti.  When they came back they were overcome with the positive, spirit-focused, mind-set of the people. Was this a representation of a select group of people, an outward expression designed to show outsiders or a genuine way of viewing the reality of their national and personal situation?

The ultimate question is who ends up with the least regrets at the end of life? The person searching, planning, acting in hope for something better or the person accepting and finding reasons in the here and now to be happy.

Happy does not necessarily equate to lack of regret or does it? Perhaps the real; key is not whether to search or accept but the mind set accompanying both

Can a person accept and “be” happy for the life they have and still search for something better? That almost sounds impossible, impractical. In my mind the act of being happy equals contentment. And if I’m content than I forget the future or pondering if there is something out there better?

I’m happy, content, but what if there is something better? Maybe better does not bring more happiness but a richer experience. Someone who says, I have a million dollars and I feel happy. I’m going to spend a great percentage in this helping people in need and that enriches my happiness. This is a very altruistic goal as opposed to the self centered thinking of Cinderella who was looking out for her own needs.

We all decide what will and won’t make us happy. Sometimes we are realistic and other times there is no pleasing. There will always be people who are never happy with certain elements in their lives. The will fault their fate, themselves or blame someone else.

I usually hear people make comments such as, if only so and so would do such and such, I would be happy.

I have also seen people attempt to go against who they are and against their desires and needs in an attempt to make another person happy. It typically doesn’t work. Why, because the other person is seeking change in someone else to make themselves happy instead of taking responsibility for their own happiness.

Thoughts of if only I had a better job, a better car, improved health than life would be better. I would be happier. There is no difference in any of these scenarios. They are externally focused. What if you are never able to have improved health or a better job? Are you destined to never be happy, content with a well lived life?

Are these thoughts byproducts of modern industrial society? A product of bombardment with advertizing telling us what we should have, what our spouse should look like, behave like, what the definition of success is? The birth of the internet and the six-hundred channels on a TV brings many of us further still from the realities of healthy human interaction to obsessive, unhealthy, unrealistic expectations.

How can a person navigate through all the sewage to find contentment, happiness? How do we balance what can’t be, what should not be, what might be with what is? How do we set up that reality check to keep ourselves headed in the direction of happiness, contentment and a life well lived? However you define that?

Do you make lemonade dreams for a better tomorrow? What do you do when you are told, sorry, the life you wanted is out of stock? You decide, it’s your life.

About Debbie Hill, deborahhillcounselor.com

Wellness Counselor, Author, Photographer, Interested in living a balanced, compassion centered life, travel, spiritual/supernatural issues, history, all things Disney. If that's not eclectic, I don't know what is.

Posted on August 21, 2013, in Relationships, The Therapist is in and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. “When life hands you lemons….make lemonade.” Just one of the famous quotes of Andrew Carnegie. I’m glad that you decided to use this quote as the subject of your blog. I’ve learned a lot about the man over the last two years as my husband has been traveling to Scotland on business monthly for nearly two years now, and I have been lucky enough to tag along a few times.
    Carnegie was born the son of a weaver in Dunfermline. When hand looms were replaced by machines, his family emigrated to the United States in search of a better life for their children.
    I learned that this man had a unique ability to translate morse code by ear. When he was just 16 years old, the railroad hired him, and I’d venture to guess that there are few people who are not at least somewhat familiar with his name.
    He was raised to love literature, and as a result, he used his fortune to open libraries in nearly every little town in the Kingdom of Fife, in Scotland, but also in many towns in the United States.
    He firmly believed that a man should not die rich, and he made every attempt to bequeath his money to those less fortunate. He is the result of the “American Dream” but he did not forget the land of his birth.
    There are many people who have a negative connotation regarding Carnegie, since he was involved with the Steel Mills, and so many men suffered hardships working in those mills. So, as you have inferred in your blog, people react differently depending on their mindset. Those people who have decided to hate the man choose to ignore the positive impact that he made on so many lives.
    Those same mills were the source of so many immigrants coming to the United States for a better life. People from so many European countries were under some kind of oppression,seeking a better life for their children.
    Don’t we still see so many people attempting to come here for that very same reason? A better life?
    That being said, what I take out of your blog is that you are questioning what makes people happy. Have you ever seen the movie, “Pollyanna”? She was an orphan who transformed a town by telling people how to play the “happy” game. The movie shows even the grumpiest people giving some thought to the concept.
    Quite the opposite, we have the character, Scrooge, who is quite adept at finding the bad in everything.
    Just the fact that such movies exist show that your observation of the difference in personalities has obviously been in existence for quite some time.
    I can’t say that we’ll ever know what makes people think one way or another.
    I can’t answer your question, “who ends up with the least regrets at the end of their life”. But, what I can tell you is that people who work in the ER will tell you that they never had a patient near death say that he/she wished that they had worked harder!

    • Barb, this is a wonderful response to the blog. I am familiar with Carnegie in a generic sense but was not aware of this personal history. That was very interesting. I also think that people only see the successful man and not the struggles he had (emotionally and in daily grind) . I saw Pollyanna as a child and vaguely remember what you are saying. Scrooge of course is the quintessential example of running after the wrong things thinking they will make him happy only to have regrets. The glory of Scrooge, like Pollyanna, is showing that grumpy people can change if they alter their mind-set. The comments you made about the ER almost answers a piece of the question about happiness. I’ve heard people have regrets about relationships, wishing they had more time to complete something, wishing they had done something differently, thankful for what they have and family, but not working harder.

      Scotland? Wow, feeling a bit envious. 🙂 That sounds fantastic. I’m glad you were able to have that experience. There is such opportunity to learn and grow when traveling. Always great to hear from you!

  2. I do realize how fortunate I am to be able to have the opportunity to travel with my husband. It’s not much fun for him, as he has to go to work everyday, but I have had some great adventures exploring the Scottish countryside. And he loves having company occasionally. Working on the road can get very lonely.
    I have my own blog that I write when traveling to keep my family and friends up to date on what’s happening. I’m going to attach two links that deal with Carnegie, just in case you might be interested in reading what I learned in more detail. Unfortunately, I do tend to write a lot in the blog, so there is far more than just the life of this brilliant man.
    Don’t let the excitement go to your head. I tend to write things with a very positive spin, intentionally, so that the folks at home don’t worry. There’s much more to my life than meets the eye. 🙂
    http://gallivantinggeismom.blogspot.com/2012/01/when-fate-hands-us-lemon.html
    http://gallivantinggeismom.blogspot.com/2012/10/the-andrew-carnegie-story.html

  1. Pingback: Life scenarios and feeling too much | The X-ray of a relationship

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