Is your mind overactive with “the grass is greener” thinking? Do you sigh in frustration that you aren’t living the life you imagined? Are you immersed in thoughts such as:
- “What if I hadn’t married my spouse and there’s someone better for me?”
- “If only I were thinner, prettier, better educated, healthier, or wealthier, I would be happy.”
- “When I graduate from college, get my ideal job, marry my soul mate, have children, make my first million, then I will have ‘arrived.’”
Call it wistful or wishful thinking that may motivate you to take positive steps — or deflate your balloon.
Daydreaming is entertaining, and envisioning change can have benefit. Psychiatrist Stuart Twemlow, MD, says it offers “a range of possibilities which, in the hard cold light of reality, aren’t possible.”
When Daydreams Lead to Nightmares
But when musing turns to obsession over the choices you’ve made and fantasies become a barometer by which you measure happiness, daydreams can become self-sabotaging.
Best-selling author Robert Holden, PhD, refers to this obstacle as “destination addiction,” which he defines as “a preoccupation with the idea that happiness is in the next place, the next job, and with the next partner. Until you give up the idea that happiness is someplace else, it will never be where you are.”
For those prone to addictive thought patterns and behaviors, destination addiction is the perfect setup for failure. Trading short-term gratification for the eventual fallout is a component of destination addiction.
Getting lost in destination addiction can be as easy as plugging your goals into Holden’s description that “happiness is the next hit, the next high, the next acquisition, the next drink, the next orgasm, the next hot-fudge sundae, the next 10-pound weight loss.”
How to Feel Content
The first step is acknowledging the pattern exists, noting when you are in “I’ll be happy when” mode instead of the present.
Can you recall the last time you truly felt content? It could have been when gazing up at a starry sky or in the presence of loved ones, while petting a dog or cat, or lounging in a hammock beneath the shade of an oak tree. In that moment, there was nowhere else you would rather have been and nothing else you would rather have been doing. Call it being “now-here” as opposed to “nowhere.”
Set intentions for what you want — sustained recovery, healthy, nurturing relationships, vibrant well-being, spiritual connection, and financial abundance. Then take inspired action to bring those desires into being rather than complaining if they’re not yet part of your daily reality.
Surround yourself with people who support and encourage your vision while grounding you in the present. Don’t put off happiness while you’re waiting for the seeds you’ve planted to grow. What if delighting in the process is like Miracle-Gro that helps your crop to thrive?
Eckhart Tolle says in his book, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment: “It is not uncommon for people to spend their whole life waiting to start living.” Don’t be one of those people.