How often have you wished that you were in circumstances other than where you are now?
Maybe you felt absolute contempt for being on a crowded subway after work and couldn’t wait until you got home. Or you’re looking forward to your teenager going off to college so you’ll have some peace and quiet around the house.
Basically, the sentiment revolves around the idea that you hate where you are in that moment and wish it was over so you could experience something more pleasant instead.
Countless people feel this way and end up disassociating or self-medicating in order to endure life rather than living it.
Unfortunately, wishing you were somewhere in the future and numbing out until you get there will rob you of the present moment… and life is only ever made up of present moments.
So how do you stop wishing your life away like this?
1. Recognize that all we have is right here, right now.
This is the most important tip on this list, as it creates the foundation of your awareness and actions.
If you knew you only had ten minutes left to live, how would you spend those ten minutes? Would you relish your favorite meal or beverage, hug your family, and spend some time basking in glorious sunshine? Or would you scroll mindlessly through Instagram or TikTok, trying to distract yourself until your time was up?
Most people would immediately choose the former, saying that they would celebrate every moment they had left and wouldn’t waste a second of it. After all, they’d never get any of that time back, and would never have the opportunity to enjoy any of that ever again.
…so how do you know that you don’t just have ten minutes left?
That’s the most difficult part of life: never knowing just how much time we may (or may not) have left. Perhaps, if more people knew when their expiry date was going to be, they’d stop wasting the valuable moments they had left.
As Eckhart Tolle said in his book The Power of Now: “Nothing has happened in the past; it happened in the Now. Nothing will ever happen in the future; it will happen in the Now.”
You cannot take a step back into the past in order to experience or change anything there, nor can you do that with the future. Imagine existence as a series of stepping stones, where the one you just stepped off falls to ash, and the next one only forms as you step forward.
What will you do with the time you have left?
2. Accept discomfort and become comfortable with it.
Most living beings want to avoid things that make them uncomfortable. We seek out warmth when we’re cold, food when we’re hungry, greater comfort when sitting in stillness.
This aversion is normal, but it also robs us of the present moment in numerous ways. Furthermore, it places emphasis on rewarding aversion. By constantly wanting to remove ourselves from situations that cause us discomfort, we don’t allow ourselves the opportunity to develop coping mechanisms.
An extraordinary amount of growth can happen when you can learn to experience an uncomfortable situation and not shy away from it. This type of stoicism can serve you exceptionally well throughout life.
For example, when you can learn to be stoic and accept discomfort in difficult circumstances, you’ll find that you can endure hardships with much more grace than others can. Furthermore, others will respect you more because of this strength of character.
Think about a situation in which a ton of things have spun into chaos. This might have been something you witnessed firsthand, or even a scene from a film or TV show you like.
In times of great trouble, who stands out most: the person who’s completely falling apart? Or the one who’s remaining calm and level-headed, even in the most trying of circumstances? Which of those people would you turn to for leadership in a crisis?
If you can keep your head on straight and remain calm even though everything around you is crap at that moment, you’ll be able to navigate anything that life throws at you.
Life circumstances can change on a dime. From one day to the next, you could lose or gain wealth, health, or family members. The world around you could collapse into war, or a tornado could tear through the area and toss your entire city into shambles.
In times like this, you could sit and wallow and wish things were different, or you could stay present, take note of everything that’s going on, and help to take the steps necessary to make things better in the future.
Which would you prefer? To be apart from the universe that’s growing and evolving all around you? Or a part of it?
3. Remember that every situation is temporary: this too shall pass.
This holds true for each experience, whether you consider it “good” or “bad.” In fact, many (though not all, it must be said) situations you’re in tend to happen for good reasons, even though it may not seem like it at the time.
For example, I live in a place where winters are absolutely terrible. We’re talking -30 temperatures and 5 feet of snow. Every February, I find myself hating my circumstances and wishing I was somewhere else. But then spring and summer roll back, and the snow that blanketed the earth a few months before has melted into water that’s nourished the fields and replenished the river. Furthermore, that fallow hibernation season gives me the chance to rest and replenish so I can dive into gardening work once the soil warms.
Every aspect of your life will end up changing. Some changes may be quick, while others may take years. If you’re patient and can endure what’s going on now, you may discover that leaning into and accepting the temporary discomfort can bring about the greatest joy and fulfillment later on.
4. Stop assuming that life will be better when circumstances have changed.
Think about all the times you’ve wished you were already in a different situation because you assumed it would be better, only to find that it wasn’t.
For example, a parent might wish that their newborn was older so they’d actually get more than an hour of sleep at a time. Then they wish that their toddler was already out of diapers because they’re sick of changing them several times a day.
Oh, and then they wish their preschooler was in school full-time so they’d be able to have more time to themselves during the day. Then they’ll wish their pre-teen already had their driver’s license so they wouldn’t have to play chauffeur so often.
Do you see what’s going on there? The parent’s life didn’t actually improve per se when the kid got to the next stage of their individual development. Instead, said parent barely even acknowledged the milestone they had been striving towards before. They immediately looked to the next stage where they thought they’d be happy and fulfilled, rather than frustrated and annoyed.
There will always be another hill to climb, and there’s no guarantee that the landscape beyond will be the ideal you’re looking for. Ask yourself why you believe that everything will fall into place as soon as X, Y, and Z happen.
Has it ever done so before? Or have you continually grasped for that next milestone?
Continually bring your attention back to the present moment. Any time you feel yourself disassociating or numbing out because you think tomorrow will be better, come right back down into your own skin.
5. Practice sincere gratitude.
Every single moment offers you an immense opportunity for gratitude and celebration. It’s just a question of shifting your perspective a little bit.
In fact, let’s practice this right now. I’ll do it with you.
Sit back and take a look at everything that’s around you right now. In my case, I have a cup of tea and a bottle of water within reach, and I also have a book and my phone at the end of the desk. My rabbit is curled up between my feet, and my partner is downstairs prepping dinner.
Yes, I’m stressed out because of a few issues and I’m chilly because the weather is awful out there. But in this moment, I’m healthy. I’m fortunate enough to live in a home that has clean running water and electricity, which allows me to make this rather excellent Earl Grey tea, and read a book that I’ve been looking forward to. My socks are warm and dry, and the scents wafting up from downstairs tell me that not only will I eat tonight – that meal will be spectacular.
There will always be aspects of your life that are uncomfortable or stressful, but chances are that the little joys around you will always outnumber and outweigh the ugliness going on.
That said, please don’t try to dismiss your frustrations because other people out there have it worse. Just because a migraine isn’t a gunshot wound doesn’t mean it isn’t painful or debilitating. Acknowledge that you’re experiencing discomfort, but place more of your focus and attention on the goodness that surrounds you.
6. Make a list of all the things you enjoy doing, and focus on them.
Think of what you can do right now to make your life brighter and happier.
What hobbies or personal pursuits do you take part in that make you happy? How much of your time is dedicated to things that bring you joy and fulfillment rather than mere obligation and responsibility?
Make a point of setting time aside to do the things that you love, even if that means disappointing other people. Others may demand a great deal of your time and energy, but setting boundaries and making yourself a priority is just as important as giving others your love and care.
Doing things you love on a regular basis will make your current circumstances much more endurable.
7. Avoid comparing your life to others.
It’s no surprise that the rise of social media also contributed to a rise in people’s dissatisfaction with their own life circumstances. Those who were rather content with their own homes, bodies, careers, and hobbies were suddenly inundated with carefully curated and Photoshopped images that offered glimpses into others’ so-called lives.
These snippets – often staged and highly edited – give the impression that another’s life is a paradise of glamor and fulfillment. Suddenly, the person who’s scrolling through these false representations starts to question everything they thought they liked about their own existence. That then spirals into loathing all the aspects they think are sub par, followed by wishing that their life was more like that other person’s.
If you feel that other people’s posts are making you feel crap about your own life, then stop looking. Get off social media, or only subscribe to accounts that bring you joy. Recognize that a photo here or there doesn’t represent the full spectrum of another’s life experience, and there’s always a lot going on behind the scenes that you’re not aware of.
8. Stop doing things that you hate.
Life is too short to spend them doing things you abhor.
Look at the things you despise most in your life, and then address them. If you hate your job, then start searching for a new one. If taking care of an ailing elder is destroying your life, look into a residence or respite care.
This may involve doing things that make you feel guilty, but that’s where you ask yourself which you would prefer: to live true to yourself and potentially feel guilt, or to let yourself be broken and embittered.
When asked why they haven’t taken steps to change their situations, most people will offer a litany of excuses why they can’t. While some of these may be valid and reasonable, most of them are shields that are hidden behind to preclude any action on their part.
9. Take action to make real change happen.
If you’re so sincerely miserable that you’re constantly wishing that you lived somewhere else, or that your life circumstances were different, then it’s up to you to make that change happen.
The prospect of this might range from daunting to absolutely terrifying. In fact, many people endure awful situations for much longer than they should, simply because they’re afraid that the unknown future could be much worse.
But nothing grows in comfort zones, save for misery, resentment, and contempt.
Remember that whatever you’re not changing, you’re choosing. You can complain daily about how much you hate all the aspects of your life right now, but if you’re not taking active steps to change them, then that’s your choice. Nobody else can make these changes happen for you.
You may tell yourself that you can’t change your circumstances because of various responsibilities and other people’s needs, but your own life path is just as important as anyone else’s. That doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea to just drop everything and head out to the woods, but if that’s going to be the only way to save yourself from drowning, keep it as a last option.
Whatever higher power you choose to honor has a tendency to help those who help themselves. You can either stay in your current circumstances and keep wishing them away, wasting the precious moments you have left in this life, or you can take some steps to achieve what you need or want.
Take a good look at your current circumstances and determine – In order of priority – what you feel needs to change the most. What’s making you most unhappy? Which aspects do you want to change immediately and which can you endure for a bit longer?
Then write down the steps you feel you’d need to take in order to change those pressing issues. Are they realistic? Will you need help from others to make those happen?
You’re not alone, and there are always support pillars around that can help you out. But if you want things to change, stop wishing and start taking action about it.
Be aware of not repeating the mistake of living everywhere but the present moment.
If you’re accustomed to focusing on the experiences you’re looking forward to in the future instead of appreciating where you are now, that’ll also happen when you get where you dream of being.
The mind can be tricksy in that regard: you could be having the most amazing experience of your life, but instead of reveling in everything you’re experiencing right then and there, those moments will be lost.
Try to stay present no matter what you’re experiencing, as you’ll never get that time back.
In simplest terms, if you keep wishing your life away all the time, that wish will come true sooner than you’d expected.
You may also like:
- How To Live In The Present Moment: 13 No Nonsense Tips!
- 10 No Nonsense Tips For Making Every Day Count
- Why It’s Vital You Live One Day At A Time (+ How To Do It)
- How To Be Content With What You Have In Life: 5 No Nonsense Tips!
- 18 Highly Effective Ways To Get The Most Out Of Life
- How To Accept What Is (Without Surrendering Your Power): 10 Tips
- 11 Ways To Enjoy Life Like Never Before