“I’ll be happier when I get there”, “I’ll be happier when I do this”, and “I’ll be happier when I’m in this position”. These are various excuses I used to tell myself. I stopped because I noticed that nothing in me changed when I got there.
Basing my happiness on a particular period was negatively affecting my life. I only got clean when I started thinking about my present positively. A lot of us suffer or have suffered from destination addiction without knowing. This is why I will like to welcome you to a written rehab that will hopefully assist in treating your destination addiction.
I first heard of the term when I watched a video on YouTube, and the way the Youtuber explained it, I knew that I was an addict- or should I say used to be. Let me explain what Destination Addiction is.
Robert Holden, the creator of the term, described it as a compulsive behaviour fuelled by an erroneous belief that happiness is somewhere else, over there at the next step in your life. To put it simply, it is the belief that you can only be happy and feel satisfied if you arrive at a particular goal or get something/someone. Does this feeling sound familiar?
That is because a lot of destination addicts live in the Not Now. Addicts find themselves compulsively trying to get to a destination that's in the future instead of focusing on their present. The issue is that when you place your happiness on factors in your future, you create less room for satisfaction in your present. You’ll find it very hard to be satisfied with the ‘little things’ because the only thing you see is the ‘big thing’.
What happens after you get that big thing? You start wishing and dreaming about the next thing because the fantasy you created around this big thing did not meet your expectations. For example, you may believe that you’ll be happy when you get that new job, when you get into a relationship, when you move to a new place, or when you go on vacation.
When people ask you how you are, you say you’re getting there, or you’ll soon be there, but where exactly is There? What if there ends up being not so lovely. You may find yourself constantly striving but never arriving.
Let’s use another case. You want money to buy something that you feel will make you very happy. To get that money, you end up doing jobs and tasks you hate, with the hope that when you buy that item, you will feel fulfilled. You may not realise that even if that item gives you a sense of fulfilment, it does not last long.
You begin to understand that you spent a lot of your time doing things that made you unhappy or stressed. You may have even lost a part of yourself along the way. The journey was so stressful that the result did not feel as nice again. Have you ever felt this way?
The feeling of being out of touch with reality. Probably alone? Maybe even empty? It's okay. It happens to the best of us, so do not see it as a failure. When you have a new goal, try to enjoy and be present in the journey. The reward, whether big or small, will feel nice.
Sometimes, people become destination addicts because they want another person's Now that looks perfect. They are not content or happy with their now because they live in a forever fantasy of there.
You do not need to have a picture-perfect life. Put that energy into something NOW. It’s possible to have a happy now. You just need to try to have a positive mind-set. Also, don't stop trying because of some obstacles that may come. It happens. Our NOW is our best chance for happiness. We are our present and can make it better if we want and choose to.
To clarify, I’m not saying you shouldn’t have dreams or live a life without plans or goals, no. Having goals for each month or year is a good thing, but you also need to reflect on the positives in the present.
What’s funny is that when people focus too much on the result, they don't even take the appropriate steps associated with the said destination. For example, how do you feel being a famous actor will make you happy, but you haven't started looking into auditions, coaching, or personal practice?
The truth is that until we give up the idea that happiness is somewhere else or in something else, we will never be happy. Feed yourself by looking at and listening to positive things, and start setting up your days for happiness rather than waiting for There. Don't just get through the day, enjoy the day!
You are doing great. Don’t let life pass you by. Most importantly, try to LOVE YOURSELF. These are things I have learnt to do that work for me. This written rehab is an invitation to create a good relationship with your NOW. That future you want, you’ll enjoy it fully because you decided to be here first and here now.
So stop pursuing happiness and start to live it.