Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Having a goal makes you happier

I have a few minutes before I need to leave to meet a friend for coffee, so I thought I would share with you something I found interesting. I promised yesterday that I would fill you in on the correlation between having goals and happiness.

[start quote]
"Out there in the future somewhere is a goal of yours. You are always headed somewhere. That's human nature (for mentally healthy people), and I'm sure it's true of you. There's something you want, some condition you are aiming for or trying to move towards in your life. You have a goal, maybe many of them. You would like to be in better shape, you would like more money or a more secure future, you'd like to have a better relationship with your mate, or maybe there is something you'd like to create, some deed you'd like to do for no other reason than it feels right.

Regardless of what you're aiming for, the point is that we're never really satisfied with where we are (for very long at least), and we're always trying to get to someplace better, and that's a wonderful part of life. Lucky stuff happens now and then, of course, and it can make you happy, but you can't count on it. The only happiness you can count on is the kind you create with your own effort. This kind of happiness comes from the process of progress.

We think we'll be happy when our goal is attained, but that's not so. A great example of that is Christmas. Christmas night, when it's all over, people often have a feeling of sadness. You got all those presents, but you're sad because having what you want doesn't really make you happy. Getting it is where all the fun is. And no matter how many times we hear that and agree with it, it almost always feels like we'll be happier when we arrive. But that's part of the game. Human nature.

The happiness that you can create comes from the process of progress. If I want to lose ten pounds and I get on the scale and see I've lost one pound, I'm not where I want to be, but I've made progress, and I'll feel pretty good about that. I'm moving in the direction I want to go. If need to save $3000 to achieve my goal of vacationing in Greece, and I'm saving a hundred dollars every week, I will feel good about it each week when I put that hundred bucks away. I'm making progress toward my goal."[end quote]

I really liked this article. It made me realize that while I have a several goals that I would love to arrive at tomorrow, it's the getting there that's the fun part. Our experiences along the path of moving toward our goals, shape the person we become. And what happened if I were to achieve all my goals tomorrow? I would probably have another goal, another challenge, and most likely it would be even harder to attain than the previous goal. But I guess it's the ride that makes us happy, not the destination. The anticipation. Happiness is what you make of your journey. Or misery, it's ultimately up to you.

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