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Celebrate the Process AND the Finish

April 24, 2012


From the Christian Science Monitor, Gretchen Rubin, Author of “The Happiness Project”

A common happiness hurdle is the arrival fallacy. We think that we’ll be happy once we arrive at some destination: a new job, a new apartment, a promotion, whatever. But often, arriving doesn’t make us as happy as we expect.

But this week I’ve also been reminding myself of one of my Secrets of Adulthood: the opposite of a profound truth is also true. Just as I should enjoy the process, and not wait for the happiness of crossing the finish line, I should also do the opposite, and revel in the happiness of crossing a finish line.

Too often, I don’t take the time to experience the satisfaction that comes from finishing. I turn immediately to the next thing I need to do, or the next finish line I need to cross, without pausing for a little moment of triumph.

For instance, if all goes according to plan, next Monday will mark a giant finish line for me. I’ve been working for months on a major overhaul of this blog, and on Monday, you’ll see the new and improved version. I hope you like it!

It was an enormous undertaking, but I can already feel myself starting to think, “OK, now time to tinker with the Happiness Project Toolbox,” “Now I can focus on Pinterest,” “I need to tackle that new stack of research,” etc

But – this will be an exciting moment. I want to appreciate it.

It’s important not to expect too much happiness at the finish line, but I don’t want to enjoy no happiness at the finish line. As Nietzche explained it: “The end of a melody is not its goal; but nonetheless, if the melody had not reached its end it would not have reached its goal either. A parable.”

Do you ever find yourself doing this: not taking a moment to enjoy crossing a finish line? It seems as though it would be so easy, but I find it difficult.

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