What Are You Waiting For?

Nov 23, 2010 by

What Are You Waiting For?

At our home we have at least two bookshelves full of children’s picture books. Our children have outgrown them, but I have a hard time letting them go. I’m not a pack rat. I just love children’s books. They’ve got amazing illustrations and besides that, children’s book authors have a remarkable way of distilling deep wisdom into simple, compelling truths.

Take for example, Dr. Seuss. In his book “Oh, The Places You’ll Go” he uses rhythm and rhyme to teach children (and presumably adults as well) how to proceed with integrity and courage down life’s unpredictable (and sometimes treacherous) path. One of my favorite pages in “Oh The Places You’ll Go” is the passage about The Waiting Place: a place where (he warns the reader), it is very easy to get stuck . . . possibly forever. “The Waiting Place, ” he begins, “(is) for people just waiting . . .

Waiting for a train to go

or a bus to come, or a plane to go

or the mail to come, or the rain to go

or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow

or waiting around for a Yes or a No

or waiting around for their hair to grow.

Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite

or waiting for wind to fly a kite

or waiting around for Friday night

or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake

or a pot to boil, or a Better Break

or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants

or a wig with curls, or Another Chance

Everyone is just waiting.”

Sometimes people ask the question “What are you waiting for?” and they mean it rhetorically. It’s a sort of a motivational prod. It’s sort of like saying, “C’mon, get going!” But I want you to ask yourself the same question, but not rhetorically at all. What ARE you waiting for? Which stars are you waiting to align? What do you believe is the missing piece of the puzzle? If you ask yourself this question, and really look deeply — you’ll see that you are waiting for something that you equate in some way with happiness.

Are you waiting for someone to apologize? Are you waiting for someone to appreciate you? Are you waiting for a vacation? Are you waiting for a promotion? Are you waiting to lose weight? Waiting for the recession to end? Waiting for love to arrive?

Or perhaps in some way, we are even waiting for stuff that we think will finally, once and for all unlock the door to happiness: A new pair of shoes. A clean house. A green lawn. A new haircut. Fresh paint on the walls. A more comfortable couch. A new shade of lipstick. A night out on the town.

We all have certain conditions to which we attach our happiness. We identify some distant goal and we say “When I finally arrive there, I will be happy.” Or we identify some object or some person that we want to show up in our lives. We almost literally sit and wait for happiness to knock at our door.

But why wait? There are thousands of conditions of happiness right where you are. Thousands of doors of happiness for you to walk through right this very moment. Are you breathing clean air? Is there water running in your home? Is your sight clear? Is your hearing good? Is your sense of touch intact? Can you look outside your window right now and see trees moving in the breeze? Can you hear music? Can you read? Can you walk? Can you laugh at a joke? Can you feel love in your heart? Imagine if any of those things were to suddenly disappear: clean air, fresh water, your sight, your hearing? Your ability to laugh or feel love? Wouldn’t you despair: “I wish I had felt happy about it while I had it!” Well don’t wait another minute. Be happy about it right now. Don’t wait for these conditions of happiness to vanish before you appreciate them. Walk through that door of happiness this very moment and smile at your good fortune.

Waiting for happiness is a habit we can overcome. Especially when we can identify thousands of reasons to be happy right where we sit. Happiness is just waiting for you to open your eyes and recognize it.

So what are you waiting for? I hope your answer is “Nothing.”


Lauren Rosenfeld is the author of Your To Be List


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1 Comment

  1. Donna Morask

    Excellent article and very nicely expressed. Keep holding on to those children’s books, there are still many who can learn from them. I know I just did…