Ever wonder how much time we all spend in waiting? Waiting for someone, waiting for the bus, waiting for our mobiles to charge! We seem to spend a lot of time in waiting for something. All these waits seem to test our patience.
Despite all our impatience there is one wait that we don’t seem to mind. Or rather we seem to enjoy it. ‘The wait for ideal’. We are willing to wait endlessly for the most ideal situation for even the simplest of things.
Remember back in school we all made this colourful elaborate timetable to study. We divided days and hours and planned the subjects to study. This was then put up on our cupboards to be admired and followed. How many days did we end up following it? How many times did we remake it? Why? We gave up following the timetable because we missed out on a couple of things in our plan on a particular day. But we wanted an ‘ideal’ timetable so we scraped the whole thing and started it all over again.
A young man I met wanted to improve his physical fitness. He searched and researched for hours on the internet for the ideal fitness plan, the perfect diet and workout regime. We met after a week and he still had not started! Why? Well, on some days he got up late. “The ideal time to go to the gym is in the early morning hours as soon as you get up. So I will start the plan when I start getting up at 6 a.m.”
A couple came back from their vacation frustrated. They had an ideal itinerary. A very well researched and planned trip. Unfortunately there was a road block in one of the cities they were visiting and the whole plan fell apart. “You could have gone to the next city on your list!” But No! That would mean missing out visiting one city and that would not be ideal. So they sat cooped up in their hotel for three days.
How many things do we miss out because we wait for the ideal? How much time do we waste because we look for an ideal setup? We did not need an ideal timetable. We could have just picked up from where we left. The young man could have gone to the gym whenever he woke up. The couple could have a great vacation if they did not wait for the ideal itinerary.
We all want an ideal life. We want things to go as per our plan. What we fail to understand is that we waste a lot of time and opportunities just waiting for the ‘ideal’. I agree that the ideal plan is best suited for us and is the best way forward to our goal but then not doing things at all because they are not ideal will not take us anywhere near the goal.
It is not just ideal plans that we waste time waiting for. We waste a lot of time waiting for ideal situation to make the best out of life.
I have met many youngsters who are unhappy with their education. The system is useless. The teachers are boring; the course is out dated and so on. The situation is not ideal for the young minds to grow and flourish.
Couples are unhappy with each other. The marriage is not ideal. Ideally both partners should do things together, understand and support each other and have fun together. Unfortunately that is rarely the case.
How many parents do I meet who mess up their children in their desire to be the ideal parent? The intent is perfect; they want their child to have an ideal environment for growing up. Again that seems impossible to achieve.
I meet a lot of people with health anxiety. They want their body to be ideal. Even the slightest aches and pain become a major source of anxiety because their body is no longer perfect.
Wanting an ideal situation is a perfectly normal desire. It is present in all of us. Then why does it cause so many problems?
Wanting an ideal situation and insisting for an ideal situation are two different things. One is a desire, the other a compulsion. We believe that we can do well ONLY IF that ideal situation existed. We wait endless hours making the situation ideal or worrying about how it is not ideal.
Do we really need an ideal set-up to grow? Let us take a simple example. The ideal situations for a particular plant to flourish are defined by nature. It needs an ideal temperature, moisture and sunlight to grow. So does the plant grow only in that particular region? Ask an avid gardener or a horticulturist. Do they not grow a variety of plants in not so ideal conditions? Does the plant not adapt itself to grow in less than ideal conditions?
Don’t camels who are used to walking on desert sand walk on tar roads? Do we not breed animals away from their natural habitat? We do and the animals adapt.
Let’s say we want to go from point A to point B. Ideally we would take the most convenient route to reach there. Now let’s say this most convenient route has a huge traffic jam. Would we insist on taking the ideal route or would we change our route to not so ideal path because it is important that we reach our destination.
In all the above situations things were not ideal. In fact at times they were detrimental to the goal of the person. But are we not the same species which is all praise for someone who succeeds despite difficult circumstances. A poor student who tops the state exam, a small town girl who becomes a world class athlete and so on. We admire them because they disregarded their not so ideal circumstances and achieved their goals. Then why do we want an ideal set up?
We wait endlessly to find ideal situations and ideal solutions? The highest form of intelligence is to control and manoeuvre existing circumstances to our benefit. That is what the cave man did. That is what successful people do. That is what happy people do.
We wait endlessly for an ideal without realizing that ideal is what I make and not what I have.
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About the author
Dr Gauri Choudhary is an MPhil in Clinical Psychology from Mumbai. She has her expertise in Adult and Child Psychotherapy and diagnostic Psychometry. She is also competent in neuropsychological assessments and retraining.