What would make you happy, if you got it?
When I speak with people about their plans for the future, they tend to assume, implicitly, that they will be happy after they achieve a particular thing.
“I’ll get an MBA and then I’ll work at a top consulting firm. [And then I’ll be happy.]”
“I’ll go traveling and work as a digital nomad. [And then I’ll be happy.]”
“I’ll do an internship at a government agency, so that after I graduate I can get a job there. [And then I’ll be happy.]”
There’s nothing wrong with striving. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to accomplish things. In fact, achievement is great! Achievement can make you feel proud, and pride is one of the purest forms of happiness.
But if you’re not happy during the journey, you probably won’t be happy when you get the result.
I don’t know how to prove this to you. I can tell you that I’ve experienced it, and that many others have experienced it as well. Maybe you yourself have noticed it when you reflected on a difficult thing you did.
Happiness comes from the process, not from the result. Yet so many of us make grand plans for the future. We plan to do this and then that and then that—and then we’ll be happy (we think).
But plans fail. What you want might change drastically. You might not live long enough for your plans to come to fruition. It’s a bad strategy to wait to be happy in the future.
I’m not telling you to fake happiness. That doesn’t work. You really might have to change some things to feel happier.
My point is: don’t make grandiose plans that will take years to generate—perhaps—some extra happiness.
What can you do today to genuinely feel a bit happier? What about this week? This month?
As much as you can: be happy now.