Updated: Nov 25, 2021
"The problem today is everyone is obsessed with becoming happy". Not my words but those of a very wise gentleman I had the pleasure of speaking to, all too briefly, while queuing for coffee.
It did make me smile for a moment but on reflection he had a point. You only have to look at social media, open a magazine or look at the list of top selling books to appreciate our constant desire for happiness.
If fact, British Psychologist Dr. Robert Holden talks about this constant desire in his book Authentic Success. He describes the notion of always looking for the next thing to make us happy as ‘destination addiction’. It describes how our thoughts around being happy are often linked to future events, e.g. I'll be happy when I have a new job, a new relationship, or my next car. But it doesn't have to be big things we are waiting for to be a victim of destination addiction. If each weekday you can't wait for the weekend or when you finish one holiday, the next one is constantly on your mind, then you may find it difficult to be happy in the current moment. The reality for most people when they finally reach these 'happy points' is that they are fleeting and the happiness doesn't fulfill expectations, hence onwards to the next.
So how do we reach that state of happiness if it's not round the corner? Well, there's plently of research to support the concept of practising mindfullness in helping us appreciate the here and now. The daily practice of gratitude is also shown to lift our mood and, overtime, make us have a more positive outlook. But in addition to these daily practices, one of the biggest influences on our ability to be happy and rideout the inevitable lows we all experience, is having a sense of purpose, a reason we believe we are here. This differs for us all. It may be raising your family, helping others through your work, taking action to improve your local community, or simply aiming to connect with others in an authentic way. Emily Esfahani Smith explains in her TED talk how her study found that having meaning in life was the key to happiness. Serving something beyond yourself gives you something to hold onto when life becomes challenging.
So is destination addiction getting in the way of your everyday happiness, or have you got clarity on your sense of purpose?