Have you ever spent so much time planning an amazing trip or vacation that you realize you had more fun anticipating it than you did during the actual events? Have you ever thought you would be happier when you finally got into a relationship, only to realize not that much changed?
In his book Happier, Tal Ben-Shahar calls this phenomenon the”arrival fallacy.”
Arrival fallacy: “The false belief that reaching a valued destination can sustain happiness.”
Having goals is what truly makes us happy, not the actual achieving of those goals. As human beings we need to feel like we’re on a journey, that we’re growing and constantly improving ourselves.
It’s easy to spend all your time ignoring the present, and constantly day dreaming of some distant future when you’ll be married/get a promotion/lose weight/get that book published. However, the only thing that will make you truly happy is to enjoy exactly where you are now, in this moment.
As a child, I spent most of my growing years checking out travel books from the library. I planned trips, learned about Paris, and imagined myself strolling along the beaches of Thailand. Though I did eventually travel the world, it has never been without some bumps and obstacles along the way. Planning to be happy “one day” is assuming that life will be perfect in the future, but that is impossible; life is just not perfect.
Ben-Shahar also writes, “Attaining lasting happiness requires that we enjoy the journey on our way toward a destination we deem valuable. Happiness is not about making it to the peak of the mountain nor is it about climbing aimlessly around the mountain; happiness is the experience of climbing toward the peak.”
Make the present moment about the climb to the top. Enjoy your journey every step of the way, and don’t focus so much on the summit.