“If only I could get that promotion next year, I’d be happier,” she says.
“If I could just lose a couple of kilos, I know I’ll feel a lot more confident,” he says
“Perhaps, if I become the top performer at work next year, I will be a real success”, they say.
But, these wishes even when they do materialise, provide little more than a momentary dopamine hit. A transient feeling of elation that quickly disappears because fundamentally, you are playing a game of deferred happiness.
Deferred happiness is a bit like chasing the mythical pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Setting goals and achieving them is really only of any use to those who are already able to enjoy some sense of contentment today. Those who are able to appreciate the wonder of the human experience in its infinite variations.
A man who is constantly pinning his happiness to some future event is in danger of never finding it at all. For, even when he does arrive at this future place, he will have a feeling of it not being substantially different to where he came from. And, so it goes on. He continues the game of deferred happiness, running after the rainbow, which only recedes the closer he gets.
The truth is that if you can’t find contentment just having a coffee under a tree for example, then you are not going to find it having an orgy in some exotic destination! What really matters is your inner state.
True happiness, or contentment, is then not about external validation. It is not about waiting for something to happen, so that you can finally be allowed to experience happiness. Rather, it is about how you are, now. If you constantly put happiness outside of you, it will forever continue to elude you. But, if you see that it is fundamentally about how you feel in the moment no matter what you do, then you stand much more of a chance of finding it.
It is then about looking within and understanding yourself more deeply. About really becoming aware of the true nature of your thoughts, emotions and feelings. And, from such a place of introspection, you are much more likely to find meaning and contentment in whatever you do.
So, ask yourself: Is 2019 going to be another year of deferred happiness? Or, is it going to be different this time?
Find out more about Harsha’s work