It’s not whingeing as such; in fact, it can sound quite reasonable: “All I need is…and then I’d be happy.” The implication is that your life is just about right and you just need one teeny-weeny adjustment to make it perfect, but of course it is far more insidious than that. What you’re doing every time you say “…and then I’d be happy” is postponing your happiness, delaying your full experience of the here-and-now (which, after all is the only reality any of us has), by closing your eyes to life until the longed-for experience materialises.
Children don’t do it. They don’t remind themselves that their lives will truly begin when their bellies shrink, boobs grow, cars/partners turn into current-year exclusive models. They are too busy in the moment (and I’m not saying childhood is an idyllic bliss-out; I too remember stomach-twisting dread of vampires under my bed and the school principal) to consider the future as anything other than a nebulous haze of grown-up stuff.
I sometimes congratulate myself than I am one of those who live in the moment, that I truly appreciate the tiny beauties that drop into life on a daily basis, but that is only because my TIBHs are so prosaic. “If I could just get my ex-husband’s name off the mortgage so my home was not in danger because of his profligacy, TIBH”; “If I could just be made full-time, TIBH.” They may not be terribly glamorous as dreams go, but they are still sitting on my subconscious all the time, squashing my ability to reach out and embrace the day.
And, of course, no TIBH is truly discrete. Each longing carries within it the seed of the next, so as each one dies on fulfillment, the next takes root. If I get the mortgage in my own name, will I wish I could move somewhere else? If my job becomes full-time, will I start to hate it? I have to learn to stop filling the future with my energies and focus them on what I have now. And then I’d be happy.