“Life Is What Happens to You While You’re Busy Making Other Plans”
This quote by John Lennon from his very famous song “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)” reflects on the melancholic paradox of our modern lives. From birth to death, we are in constant “rats’ race” and spend our entire lives chasing after an unattainable target. The problem is most of us don’t realize this except in retrospect when it is too late, and life has already happened.
From a very young age, it is instilled in you that to succeed in life or to be happy in life you must first fulfill X, Y, and Z requirements. It is drilled into your mind that the only way you can “win at life” is if you first make a detailed plan for your future and then put in place it. You are taught that that the only way to prosper is to make new plans and you move from one goal to the next without the realization that:
Your life is passing by and that time does NOT wait for anyone.
When you’re in grade school this goal is usually to study hard if you want to get into a good university or college. Once you get into university the goal becomes getting a very high GPA so you can get a good job and a good salary. Once you get a good job with a good salary the goal becomes to work extra hard to get married and find a good partner. Then when you find a good partner and buy a house the next goal becomes to have children and get more investment assets. But then once you have children and have built a solid investment portfolio you make more goals to start planning for retirement.
This cycle of plans and goals then continues viciously until you are one day finally on your deathbed. Breathing your final breaths, and asking yourself where the time went and whether you lived your life to the fullest.
The above example paints a gloomy picture and it does not apply to everyone. But the lesson from this and John Lennon’s quote is that too many of us live our entire lives in the future without taking a moment to enjoy the present. While you are planning meticulously ahead and are putting off what you want now for future gratification. Time is passing by and instead of enjoying and savoring every moment in the present. You choose to live in a “fantasy” future where everything is always bigger and better. You keep chasing and running after bigger goals and loftier targets. Yet in the end, you spend your entire life chasing without ever enjoying the fruits of your labor.
John Lennon was very wise to have figured this out at a very young age. By realizing that life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans, you can take a moment to slow down and be grateful for where you are in life. There will always, always be a bigger target. If you buy a house there will always be a larger house. If you start a business, there will always be a more successful business. If you have 30 investment properties, there will someone who has 100 investment properties. If you have a nice car there will always be an even nicer car and the list goes on.
The choice is yours. Do you want to live a happy fulfilled life now? Or do you want to continue to waste your entire life chasing after new goals and make new plans so you can be happy and fulfilled in the future? Ask yourself what is the real goal or purpose of life? Why do we make plans? Why do we want nice things? It is so we can be happy no? By answering these questions for yourself you will finally understand the paradox of our times. We have the power to be happy NOW, to be happy in the present but we choose not to recognize this truth and chase after an infinite number of things. Why? So, we can be happy. The saddest part is there is no end to a paradox. Once you get stuck in this thinking you spend your entire life chasing happiness and die never experiencing it.
So, all said and done I will leave you with my solution to escape this paradox once and for all. Practice extreme gratitude. Being grateful is the result of you acknowledging the present, being appreciative of the past, and not dwelling on the future. When you are in a grateful state of mind you stop chasing and start accepting. You let yourself slow down and let your mind be content with what you have achieved. This does not mean if you are grateful you will stop growing or stop achieving more success. Rather by being grateful you will get to enjoy the fruits of your labor simultaneously while achieving more success in your life. Instead of postponing your happiness into the distant future, you will taste the sweet feeling of happiness every single day of your life.
So always keep this in mind: life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans. Take some time to slow down, breathe and stop to appreciate all the amazing things in your life right now before it is too late.