The term spoke perfectly to a feeling I’ve always had: That my happiness is somewhere in the future.
I’d often think to myself: If I could just hit this milestone or get this amount of money or work out this much—then I’d be happy.
And that’s what “destination addiction” is—it’s the belief that happiness is in the destination or can be found somewhere else rather than in the present.
“‘Destination addiction’ is used to describe the belief that happiness is in the destination or can be found somewhere else rather than in the present.”
In fact, our destination addiction often begins earlier in life than we realize.
“As children, we are conditioned to think about our future,” says LaToya Gaines, Psy.D. “How often are we asked, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ or we are told, ‘Get good grades so you can get into a good college or find a good job’?”
As a result, Gaines says, “our minds begin to shift towards this future orientation in which everything we do is in the service of a ‘future goal.’ Imagine if as children, we were encouraged to just enjoy learning, or we were taught to reflect on what made us happy during the day.”
The thing is, when we place our happiness on factors that are not just outside of us but in the future, it leaves less room for true satisfaction.
The main reason why: Once we reach that destination, we’re too preoccupied looking towards the next one to really appreciate it. It’s an endless cycle of striving for happiness but never letting yourself attain it.
Sometimes, our destination addiction is simply because we’re going through a tough time in the present—which is completely understandable. Anticipation, after all, is a good feeling to harness.
However, “while having hope for a better tomorrow is beneficial to our overall mood, it is equally beneficial to be able to reflect on the positives in the present,” Gaines says.
Being at peace with your life begins with zeroing in on the present and making an effort to be more content with your circumstances.
“Being at peace with your life begins with zeroing in on the present and making an effort to be more content with your circumstances.”
How exactly can you go about doing this? Well, we’ve developed a super easy exercise that can help.
Create a ‘Right Here, Right Now’ List
I call it the Right Here, Right Now List (or RHRN List), and it’s all about developing a habit of showing gratitude for the right here, right now and acknowledging the present moment. Really living in it.
Instead of constantly waiting for a “better” now, try getting out a piece of paper—or opening the Notes app on your phone—and answering the following prompts to make your own RHRN List:
●︎ The things that are bringing you joy right here and right now:
●︎ The lessons you’re learning right here and right now:
●︎ What it is you love about yourself right here and right now:
●︎ The strides you are making right here and right now to help accomplish your goals:
Begin to list out these aspects of your life. For example: “My new hobby of running after work brings me joy, right here and right now.”
Or: “The small sacrifices I’m making right here and right now like preparing my lunch each day will help me reach my savings goal.”
This can be a daily, weekly, or monthly practice depending on your specific needs and process.
Its main purpose is to help you stop and really observe the occurrences in your day-to-day life and their role in your beautiful and unique story. It’s to help you look forward to a big future, but make sure you’re not getting caught up in “destination addiction.”
Sure, your future looks bright—but so can right here, right now.
*I originally wrote this story for Shine.