You’ve heard of burnout but have you heard of destination happiness syndrome? It’s the notion of never being content with life in the present and thinking instead about the ‘ifs’: if I get a new job I’ll be happy, if I lose five pounds I’ll be happy – and so on. It’s detrimental, and here’s how we can work on it…
What it entails
“Happiness destination syndrome is pretty common. What we have is never enough, we will always want more and we will always want it to be better. It’s a never ending treadmill but also we are refusing to sit in the present tense which is where we want to be,” says Milla Lascelles, wellness coach at Bamford Spa.
“Of course there is nothing wrong with wanting to better what we have and nothing wrong with setting the next achievable goal. However, when we sit in the mindset that happiness is only reachable when we reach the next step, we will find when we actually reach ‘that next step’ it’s actually an anticlimax and we feel dissatisfied and deflated. Onto the next.”
How can I work on it?
Happiness is a practice, not a destination
“I really recommend that clients practise happiness everyday. Our brains are velcro for negative experiences and teflon for the good so it’s important we take in the food. When we rest our attention on positive experiences we are increasing our ability to deal with stressful situations, which leads us to greater overall happiness. I tell my clients to spend 30 seconds allowing their attention to focus on an experience that made them happy, bringing their attention to the sense of smell/feel/sound/taste and so on of that particular experience,” Milla says.
Keep a gratitude diary
“Keep up a disciplined daily diary of Dr Chatterjee’s 3 P’s, which is writing down a person, pleasure and a promise that you were grateful for that day.”
Try not to compare yourself to others
“I think we have this obsession with achievement and I think social media is a huge catalyst for this. Where we are and what we have is never enough. We could be more successful, we could be more insta famous, we could be prettier or skinnier.
On Instagram we can live in this imaginary bubble. We set an unrealistic high bar for our own personal success, we’re told to reach for the stars and when we don’t make it we blame ourselves and our failures entirely on ourselves. The truth is you’re another person living another life.”
Plus, Milla says, “write a list of achievements in the last year to see how far you’ve come. Switch your self talk. Whatever negative message you’re saying to yourself, say the opposite. So if you’re saying ‘I will never be successful at this job’ switch it to ‘ I am successful’. Say these affirmations everyday, the more emotional charge you give them the more your brain will take note.”
Remember – you are your own worst critic. Everyone’s journey is different and living in the present, rather than the past or the future, and appreciating what you have can aid feeling content in the moment.
Join Milla on a wellness retreat at Vanners Farm, Newbury.
This article was originally written in May 2019
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How can I overcome destination happiness syndrome?
Overcoming destination happiness syndrome involves focusing on the present moment and finding joy in the journey rather than just the destination.
Can social media contribute to destination happiness syndrome?
Yes, social media can contribute to destination happiness syndrome by creating unrealistic expectations and comparisons to others’ seemingly perfect lives.
Is it possible to be happy without achieving all my goals?
Yes, it is possible to be happy without achieving all your goals. Happiness comes from within and can be found in everyday moments and experiences.
How can I find happiness in my current situation?
Finding happiness in your current situation involves practicing gratitude, focusing on the positive aspects of your life, and finding ways to bring joy into your daily routine.
Charlotte is a London girl through and through. She sweats through spin and puffs through Pilates to justify trying the latest restaurants and devouring copious amounts of sweet potato fries, burrata and bread – preferably on holiday. Her favourite destinations include Italy, the Maldives and anywhere where the sun’s shining and there’s a strong breakfast buffet. She’s obsessed with walking, visiting farmers’ markets and reading. She’s also learning to cook. Wish her (and her husband) luck.