While striving for contentment, people often will say that “if only things were different” they would be happier. When saying this, they likely are assuming that things would being better if they had more money, if they had a different job, if they lived somewhere else, or if they had a different partner. In its minor form, this type of thinking can help a person decide what they want, and help them to make a plan on how they are going to get it. In its excessive form, this type of thinking leaves people believing that the grass is always greener on the other side.

“If only” is a magical style of thinking. It is thinking that the world would be different if something in your life was different. This may or may not be the case. It is an assuming that you are the victim of a current negative reality, but in reality things are not likely all-negative or all-positive. It is highly unlikely that there is nothing positive happening in your day-to-day life . However, when we are caught up in this style of thinking, it is difficult for us to notice the positives in our lives, which leads us to become absorbed in negative thought patterns.

Another significant issue with this style of thinking is that it confuses wants and needs. When we are thinking “if only things were different” we are thinking that the missing thing in our lives is needed to progress. However, this is rarely the case. The missing things in our lives are things that we want, but in this scenario we are making them seem like they are needed to make us feel happy or even content. Having what we want can enhance a feeling, but will not create one. You create the feeling by how you think about what you want.

I recommend that you figure out what you want, and think if there is a way to get it without hurting yourself or anyone else. Look at it as something that you can use to enhance your life, and not something that will take away from your happiness if you do not get it. This is where you take a stance on how you are going to choose to perceive your own days. One way to do this is to take a positive daily inventory of the good aspects of your day. This can help to put this type of thinking back into perspective. As a result, you will be better able to see wants just as they are, appreciate what you currently have, and identify what it is that you want so that you can set future goals.

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