What if you stopped asking “what if”?

Oct 22, 2014 by

          Since deciding that I’m going home earlier than I initially planned, I get a brief pang of “what if?” whenever someone tells me that what I’m doing right now – being in Paris – is incredible: What if I were to continue travelling Europe? What other incredible things would I see? Instinctively, I toss both questions aside almost as quickly as I pose them. I don’t know the answers, but I do know that kind of thinking is lethal. We could live our entire lives inside daydreams of what could be. I’m not going to demean my remaining time in Paris, the home I’ll be happy to return to, or my life by conceiving probable alternatives to my already happy reality. There is no need. Whenever I want a new reality, I don’t have to speculate at it. I can create it. That’s an option.

          I always have options. If I get home and I’m antsy to leave again, I can. If I want to see more of Europe, I can get back on a plane. Even if I hypothetically didn’t have the funds immediately available to me, I could earn an income to save the money to go or explore more economical methods of travel, like couchsurfing, volunteering, or working abroad. I can do whatever I want, and approach it however I’d like. I may not be able to have everything I want instantaneously, but I can make little changes that sum to big ones. I wanted to drop out of the corporate world and go to Europe, so I consistently saved my money, quit my job, and got on a plane. I can just do that. You can just do that. People can just do that – if they choose to. There is no rulebook, no sequence of events, and no series of milestones that we have to live by. Our lives are the products of our choices. That’s empowering. How wonderful is it to know that your life is your decision?

          Yes, being in Paris is incredible, because my life has been incredible since I decided to make it incredible. By contrast, from late 2008 to early 2013, I chose to cry on the bathroom floor. That reality was vastly different from this one, but both demonstrate the same lesson: people have options. There is always a way out of an unfulfilling situation. You’ve just got to be more motivated to make changes than you are to do nothing. Doing nothing is an option too.

          Truth? I spent the entire summer wondering what if, specifically: What if I quit my job and go to Europe? What if I hear from him? The time I spent questioning and contemplating accomplished nothing but stress. I was too scared to make any moves, all because I let the possible answers to my what-ifs spiral out of control. Really, I was in an excellent position to quit my job. I had done it before with only a small fraction of the money I had saved, and it was one of the best decisions of my life. As for the guy, there was honestly nothing to do but move on. I just didn’t want to. I worried that as soon as I lost interest, he’d gain it, because my life is ironic like that. In truth, nothing I do impacts what he does because we have no contact. Of course, nothing changed until I decided to make changes: I quit. I booked a flight. I decided it’s time to let him go.

          So, to spare the sanity I didn’t spare myself in the summer, there is no “what if I go home and regret not continuing to travel Europe as planned?” I already know the answer. In fact, through writing this, I think I just taught myself the answer to every what-if question I ever have (epiphany moment!): if something I don’t like becomes my reality, I change my reality. Conclusively, it doesn’t matter where I am, as long as where I am, I am happy.

Happiness Tip: Don’t forget that you have options.

 
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