“I’ll Be Happy When…”

The 'When..." trap of Happiness

Just thinking that thought, let alone saying it out aloud, raises the curtain to reveal… drum roll please… you’re not happy.  The reality is, you’d be in the company of legions of fellow humans snared by the sneaky “WHEN” trap of happiness.

We get tricked into believing that somewhere “out there” someone or something will make us happy in one way or another.  So we actually put the brake on happiness because we’re holding out for “when” something external happens hoping it causes us to be happy. Having the “I’ll be happy when…” mindset short-changes a fulfilled life.

We hang out for that promotion, buying that new car, meeting the perfect partner, getting a bigger house, going on that overseas holiday, or finally getting that motorhome and touring this big old country.  In the meantime we’re unfulfilled, feeling miserable, stressed and anxious. 

Nobody is happy all the time.  But being happy a lot of the time is possible.

We spend a big part of our lives seeking and striving after happiness.  Why do we crave and chase it?  We get way too caught up with the idea of associating happiness with pleasure and gratification and fleeting feel good feelings.

But a more enduring happiness, goes much deeper, flowing out of a state of being and vitality and the embrace of richer, fuller, meaningful living.  It is a life of fulfilment moulded out of a mindset of gratitude,and anchored on values like openness, kindness, curiosity, flexibility and connectedness.

You’ll still face curveballs.  You’ll still experience setbacks.  Throughout life we get sick and then we get better.  One day we get sick and don’t get better.  Pain, separation and death is common to humanity.  

We all need to appreciate that life is a journey, a process.  Yet we can learn to limit the impacts of inevitable heartaches and distressing events, and in spite of those things, carve out a life well worth living. 

If you’re ready to crash-through the glass ceiling to discover happiness isn’t some distant ever-shifting mirage, then here’s a tip that may help change your perspective.  Instead of the “WHEN” of happiness, adjust your mindset to “WHILE”.  Relish, enjoy and be grateful in the process WHILE you go about pursuing your goals, dreams and aspirations.  As you practice this mindset daily, you just might find yourself becoming a lot happier a lot more often.  You can choose to be happy now WHILE edging towards the goals important to you.


ROHAN WATSON is a member of the Australian Counselling Association and a general member of the International Association of Applied Neuroscience.  He holds qualifications in Psychology, Counselling and Education from Monash University and USQ.  As a Psychotherapist, Counsellor and Mental Health Researcher, Rohan is dedicated to helping unlock the potential in people to live life happily and more purposefully. 

Rohan provides specialist counselling and wellbeing coaching services to people from all walks and seasons of life by phone, video or face-to-face.  He has facilitated and delivered mental health programs across rural and remote Australia and provides professional psychotherapy services to employees at all levels nationally through EAP based services.  Rohan has a special interest in the online delivery of mental wellness programs and his current research for a Master’s thesis is focusing on early intervention mental wellbeing in SMEs.



PS. Want to go deeper in your understanding of the path to lasting happiness?  Check out this video review of Martin Seligman’s book “Authentic Happiness”.