The waiting human

Are you someone who waits for something to happen in order to be happy?
Maybe I’ll be happy when I finish school.
Perhaps I will be happy if I have a child.
I will be content if I begin my career.
Maybe I’ll be happy if I get married.
I’ll be content if I find the love of my life.
I’ll be content if I build a house.

Remember when you were a kid and the only thing you wanted to do was become an adult? “As children, we are indoctrinated to anticipate the future,” LaToya Gaines, Psy.D, explains to Shine. “How frequently are we asked, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ or we are told, ‘Get high grades so that you may get into a good college or find a decent job?” Thus, Gaines writes, “our minds begin to shift towards this future orientation in which everything we do is in the service of a “future aim.” She continues to say that as children, what if we were taught to enjoy learning or to focus on the things that brought us joy during the day? However, when we base our happiness on things that are not only external to us, but also in the distant future, we rob ourselves of the opportunity to experience true contentment. You are constantly pursuing something in order to be happy. When you arrive there, you’ll still be pursuing another high—the pursuit will never cease, and that’s Destination happiness.

The idea that happiness can be found elsewhere, rather than in the present, is known as the concept of “destination happiness.” In other words, it’s the attitude of never being satisfied with the way things are and constantly planning for what might happen if… We’ll never be satisfied with what we have; we’ll always yearn for more and better. Milla Lascelles, a wellness coach at Bamford Spa, says it’s a never-ending treadmill, but also that we’re not willing to sit in the present tense, which is where we want to be.

Psychologist Dr. Robert Holden wrote, “Do you live your life only to get to the end of it?” The majority of people say “no” when asked this question, but not everyone lives that way. ‘Destination Addiction’ is the frantic, neurotic behavior that many people display in our manic society. Success is hampered by this problem. Individuals who are addicted to Destination happiness believe that success is a destination. They can’t get enough of the idea that success, joy, and heaven will all be waiting for them in the future. Every passing second is merely a boarding pass to a better tomorrow. For them, time has no meaning; they exist in a realm of the ‘not now,’ ignoring all of their possessions. Destination Addiction is an obsession with the notion that happiness is found elsewhere. The quest for happiness is causing us physical and mental harm. As a society, we’re constantly on the go, moving, and on the move. It isn’t our goal to have a good time, but rather to get through the day. Before we can truly unwind and enjoy the present, we must first travel to another location. However, this is never the case. There is no such thing as an endpoint. We are perpetually dissatisfied people. The joy of accomplishment is postponed over and over again. It is as if we are always on the lookout for “some extraordinary bliss we have no idea how to find”.

I knew someone who suffered from destination happiness syndrome. It is unquestionably not a fun game—nothing is ever sufficient. Despite the world’s uncertainty, anxiety governs their world. Their mind is always preoccupied with anything and everything. Even the pursuit, or perhaps the journey, is not even pleasurable for them. They are constantly on the lookout for something. When they obtain whatever they have been pursuing—they are joyful for a little moment and then quickly return to being dissatisfied until they pursue and obtain something else. They deny themselves happiness and associate it solely with achievement—they ask, seek, and find yet are never satisfied.

Don’t get me wrong: one should not be content to the point of not trying to improve their life. It’s possible to be happy while constantly improving yourself—never stop improving yourself and evolving. More akin to how you live, perhaps savoring each and every moment. You take pleasure in the journey, all the more so because the destination is merely a stepping stone to another pursuit. It is simply impossible to arrive at any destination and choose to remain. That is, you may choose to remain there, but you will quickly drive yourself insane.

We are designed to work as humans. It does not have to be a race between work and money. It could be anything, such as child-rearing. We quickly become bored if there is nothing we can offer the world. Consider retirees—it is fun for a certain period, right after that honeymoon phase; they eventually urge to do something with themselves, whether it’s writing, traveling, gardening, or simply renovating the house. You simply have to keep your mind active at all times.

Choosing to be happy is a daily practice, no matter what the current circumstances are, no matter where we are. It is a feeling of well-being, joy, or contentment that we want when we seek happiness. It is having a positive outlook on life.  Being happy does not imply the avoidance of unpleasant feelings– rather than suppressing them, you must allow yourself to feel them all. The smallest things can bring you the most joy. Being happy is simply appreciating the moment as it unfolds.

Photo by Belle Co on

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