I am not talking about being addicted to traveling, folks. I am talking about being addicted to feeling like your happiness is waiting for you somewhere in the future!
This idea popped up on one of the spiritual groups I am in on Facebook and it instantly made me roll my eyes. You may be asking, “Why did it make you roll your eyes, Lo?” Well, let me tell you why. Because this definition fits me to a T! This has been something I have been working on practically all during this quarantine; releasing this idea that my happiness is going to come later, rather than focusing on the happiness I have in my life already. Here’s the description. You let me know if this describes you, too.
The idea that happiness can be found somewhere in the next destination rather than in the present moment. Happiness is in the next place, the next job, or the next situation.
Like. Damn. Do you ever make yourself feel badly for not meeting your goals in a certain time frame? Are you unable to enjoy the present because it’s not as good as what you imagine your future to be? Okay, let’s break it down even more. If any of the following thoughts have happened often for you…you may be a destination addict like myself.
“When I get this job, I’ll be happy and successful!”
“When I get this new car, house, electronic, significant other, etc… (Feel free to fill in for yourself) I will be happy!”
“When I lose 50bs, I will be happy!”
“Ugh, I am such an failure for not achieving this fast enough…”
I think you catch my drift. At a young age, we are taught to think of our futures. LaToya Gaines, Psy.D, says that every time we were asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?” we were taught to shift our focus to this future where everything we were doing now was paving the way for that goal or outcome. That future goal was being put on a pedestal and made us believe that we would only be happy once we achieved it.
When we place our happiness on things in the future, we are setting ourselves up for dissatisfaction in the present moment; the Now. Why? Because when we do reach this goal, we seem to always be too preoccupied on our next one that we don’t even take a moment to appreciate what we’ve accomplished or what has blessed our lives!
“While having hope for a better tomorrow is beneficial to our overall mood, it is equally beneficial to be able to reflect on the positives in the present,” Gaines says.
This may not be something you have picked up on yet, but I am an absolute pessimist. I suppose from the countless troubles and hardships I have faced throughout my life already, I have a difficult time being optimistic. And with the fact my depression can spring upon me without any warning, I have conditioned myself to expect the worst. I feel like I come up with 1000 different scenarios for how situations in my life could go because of my ‘fight’ reflex being in the driving seat so often for me. In our fast-paced society that rewards success generously and chastises failures just as generously , it can be difficult to remind ourselves that we can still find happiness in our present situations.
Here are a couple of suggestions on how to combat destination addiction and stay more focused on the good in our present!!
- Make a Gratitude List/Journal: Write down everything you have in your life RIGHT NOW to be thankful for! Remembering and keeping these things in the forefront of our minds can help us hone in on the present moment and find joy in what is already ours. It can be big things or small! It can help you keep clarity on what you want to have more of in your life and what you can cut from your life.
- Don’t compare your journey to anybody else’s: Stop comparing yourself! Other’s “perfect” ideals on when things should be achieved or what achievements you should have in your life are completely different from person to person. No journey is the same and to compare yourself to others could result in depression, anxiety, and self-loathing.
- Find ways that bring your attention to the Now: Finding activities that engage your full attention and make you feel happy or productive is another way to bring your focus back to the present. It could be practically anything: drawing, reading, exercising, getting out in nature, and more! If something keeps your attention, you spend less time fixating on future scenarios and enhances your mindfulness.
Life is hard, and at times, incredibly unfair. Hardships and challenges come along. Everybody has their own advantages and disadvantages. For example, my husband and were let go from our jobs early in this pandemic and haven’t been able to get new ones. Yes, this has been incredibly difficult; perhaps harder on us than we’d like to admit. Yes, it stresses us out to no end and makes us (especially me) worried about our future. But, we like to believe this is happening for a reason. That the Universe is preparing us for better miracles and opportunities when the time is right. Do we wish these good things could come sooner rather than later? Absolutely. But we understand that some things are just out of our control. At some point, we have had to accept that the Universe has us in its hands, and although it isn’t our ideal timeline, everything that is happening is the way it’s meant to. Focusing on the good in our lives currently is how I am getting through this tough time. Because we do have so much to still be grateful for!
We have each other and can take this time to connect and grow together.
Savings that allow us to still pay our bills.
A roof over our heads and food in our kitchen.
3 adorable fur babies who make us smile each day.
And a supportive family that loves us dearly and makes us feel that love all the time.
Focusing on the future can help in keeping your goals and dreams alive. But the negative effect it can have if you only focus on what might be coming later and ignoring the life you are living right now can linger and rob you of your joy.
Seize your joy, now! Your happiness in the future will never come if you don’t find your happiness-right here, right now.