The Illusion


By Ashlee Secord, LMFT

I frequently fall victim to the mindset that I will be happy when I (fill in the blank). I work with clients on a daily basis that seem to be waiting for a day or a moment to arrive so life can begin.  I’m sure you can relate. Do any of these statements sound familiar?

I will be happy when:

I lose 30 pounds.

I quit my job.

I have a bigger house.

I start school.

I get married.

I get divorced.

When will life begin for you? What do you need for it to begin today? How will you know when it has started?

Finish this statement: I will be happy when ___________________.

The illusion is that we cannot be happy until that blank is filled. Until then we tend to put everything and everyone else on hold. The blank represents so much. Since we have not achieved it it then becomes something we are not. Since I have not achieved the deepest desire of my heart, then why should I be happy?  If I have not filled in my blank then I am a failure. Once I succeed, THEN I can begin living.  THEN I can be happy.

Unfortunately, life does not stop. Just because you took the batteries out of a clock does not mean time does not proceed anyways. Our days continue to pass, as well as the opportunities therein. Not making a decision is still a decision.

The truth is that we are choosing to hold off on enjoying life now, as some form of sacrifice, in order to some day fill in that blank. To one day have happiness. Indeed, we are sacrificing. We are sacrificing the only thing we have: now.

Right now we have so many opportunities and choices. At this moment we have opportunities to feel, speak, act, do, and be. Each moment we can make an investment toward filling in our blank while living our daily lives … or not. Each moment we are making a choice. We choose whether or not we will allow our present circumstances to make us or break us.

There is a scene in the movie Shawshank Redemption where Andy Dufresne, an imprisoned banker, finds himself with an opportunity.  He has access to a record player and a box of records.  While the guard is in the bathroom, Andy begins playing an Italian operatic vignette. He plays it first just in the room he is in, then to the entire yard of prisoners over the loudspeaker system. He reclines, reprimand inevitable, but an opportunity arose and in the face of punishment he does not turn the music off. Instead? He turns it up.

We have a choice in each moment we are given regardless of our circumstances. The illusion is that there is a destination.  I’m sure you haveve heard the cliché, “Life is a journey, not a destination.”  That’s the punch line: we have already arrived. The light has turned green. The gun has been shot. You have the right of way.

So what are you waiting for?


Ashlee Secord is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist at Thrive Therapy. If you would like to determine how you can begin living now and stop waiting for life to show up contact Thrive Therapy  in Burnsville, MN to begin that process.