“I’ll be happy when I get married”

“We’re going to get pregnant.  That should bring us closer.”

“When I get that promotion, I’ll be set.”

These are examples of the arrival fallacy – the false assumption that once you reach a goal, you will experience enduring happiness.

The phrase was coined by Harvard-educated psychologist, Tal Ben-Shahar in his book, Happier: Can you Learn to be Happy?  

As an elite squash player, he believed if he could just win a tournament, he would experience happiness.  What he found out was once he reached that goal, the happiness was short-lived.  Once the joy faded, the stress and pressure returned.

The goals we set for ourselves can be illusions if we don’t keep them in perspective. 

Goal attainment, while really important, is not what sustains us.

The UN’s World Happiness Report from 2012 concluded it’s the quality of our relationships that is the #1 predictor of happiness.

We humans are pretty good at knowing what makes us happy and unhappy.  But we’re not very good at predicting the intensity and duration of that happiness.  THAT often leads to disappointment. 

It doesn’t help that we’re fed a steady diet of misleading messages by our families, the media and society at large.  In fact, the American dream tells us that hard work and achievement deliver a happy life.

But it doesn’t. 

If it did, the U.S. wouldn’t have ranked 17th on the aforementioned World Happiness Report. 

So what does all this have to do with dating?

Well, it turns out that “finding the one” might be the biggest arrival fallacy of them all.

It’s so tempting, right?

“Once I meet my person, I’ll be happy.”

But it’s not that simple.  Anyone who’s been in a serious relationship knows they’re often difficult to maintain and require a lot of hard work.

In fact, many people realize they’re not as happy as they thought they’d be. 

That’s the arrival fallacy at work.

It’s important to have goals and successes.

It’s also important to be in a healthy relationship.

But keep all this in perspective.

None of these things will make you happy on their own.

Maintain strong relationships with friends.

Pursue activities that are fulfilling.

Practice gratitude.

These are the things that will make you happy in the long run.

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