Rich and unhappy. Poor and unhappy. Great marriage and still unhappy. Famous, on drugs and depressed. Bored to death while successful.
In the slum and energetic. In the jungle and happy. No money, no job, new girlfriend and erupting with happiness.
What’s going on?
Happiness doesn’t seem to be a matter of what you have or where you are at, but rather where you are heading. You can be depressed or happy whether you are poor or rich, famous or a nobody. The level where you are at does not determine your happiness. It is instead determined by the amount of progress toward a goal that you have set. And apparently it matters less what the goal is. The goal may be small or large in an absolute sense – what matters is how much you value that goal.
I have noticed in my own life that whenever I feel down, I simply pull myself up to complete some tasks – any tasks – and my mood is resurged. And the more the tasks is forwarding an important goal (for me), the more my mood rebounds.
All this is the reason why you hear talks about “the journey is the goal”. Because if the the goal is happiness, then progress toward a goal you set determines the happiness you gain.
Reaching a goal makes you happy for a short while. At that time it is important to set a new goal and milk it for all the happiness you can get by progressing toward it. Enjoy the road, the trip, the quest.