the arrival fallacy, happiness, chasing happiness

Are you constantly chasing after a goal, thinking that once you finally achieve it, happiness will follow? It’s called the arrival fallacy: the belief that once we arrive at a certain destination or accomplishment, everything else in life will magically fall into place and we’ll finally be happy. But the truth is, achieving our goals doesn’t guarantee happiness. In fact, this mindset can leave us feeling empty and unfulfilled. So what can we do to break free from this fallacy and find true contentment? Let’s dive in!

Introduction to the Arrival Fallacy

It’s the American dream: work hard, achieve your goals, and then you’ll be happy. But it turns out that this way of thinking is based on a fallacy. Achieving your goals will not necessarily make you happy. In fact, research has shown that once you reach a goal, your happiness level often drops back down to where it was before you achieved the goal. This is known as the arrival fallacy.

The arrival fallacy is based on the idea that we think our happiness will increase when we reach a certain goal. We believe that we will finally be happy when we get the job we want, make the salary we want, buy the house we want, or achieve any other number of goals. But what actually happens is that once we reach the goal, our happiness level goes back down to where it was before. In other words, achieving the goal does not make us any happier than we were before we achieved it.

So why does this happen? One reason is that humans are naturally adaptable creatures. Once we get used to a certain situation – good or bad – our happiness level adjusts accordingly. This means that if we’re in a bad situation, like a low-paying job, we’ll be unhappy until we find a new job that pays better. But once we do find that new job, our happiness level will go back down to where it was before; we’ve just become accustomed to the new (and better) situation.

The takeaway from the arrival fallacy is simple: don’t make your happiness dependent on reaching a goal. As soon as you reach it, you’ll likely return to the same level of happiness you had before. Instead, focus on enjoying the present and making each day count – no matter what your current circumstances are.

How We Set Goals for Happiness

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that achieving our goals will make us happy. We often believe that if we can just land that promotion, buy our dream home, or find our soulmate, we’ll finally be content. But research shows that this isn’t the case. In fact, it’s what psychologists call the “arrival fallacy.”

The arrival fallacy is the belief that happiness lies in the future and that we will be happy once we achieve our goals. But happiness is not something we can achieve; it’s a state of mind. And no matter how many goals we accomplish, there will always be more to strive for.

So how can we set goals that will actually make us happy? The key is to focus on process-oriented goals rather than outcome-oriented goals. Process-oriented goals are those that involve taking specific actions in the present moment to improve our lives, such as exercising for 30 minutes three times per week or meditating for 10 minutes each day. Outcome-oriented goals, on the other hand, are those that focus on a desired result in the future, such as losing 20 pounds or earning a certain income.

Process-oriented goals are more likely to lead to happiness because they help us develop positive habits and create meaning in our lives. They also give us a sense of control over our lives and remind us that we don’t have to wait for the future to experience joy and satisfaction.

So when setting goals for happiness, focus on process-oriented goals that will help you improve your life today and bring you closer to feeling the joy and contentment you’re striving for.

Why Achieving Our Goals Doesn’t Bring Lasting Happiness

Achievement is often seen as the key to happiness. We are told that if we work hard and reach our goals, we will finally be happy. However, research has shown that this isn’t always the case. While achieving our goals can give us a boost of happiness at the moment, it doesn’t necessarily lead to lasting happiness.

There are a few reasons for this. First, once we achieve a goal, we quickly adapt to our new reality and start taking it for granted. This is known as the hedonic adaptation effect. Second, our goals are often based on comparisons to others. We compare our own achievements to what we see others accomplishing and find ourselves falling short. This can lead to feelings of envy and dissatisfaction.

So if achieving our goals doesn’t bring lasting happiness, what does? The answer may lie in exploring different aspects of well-being such as relationships, community involvement, personal growth, and purpose in life. These areas have been shown to be more important than achievement in predicting overall life satisfaction. By focusing on these areas instead of constantly striving for more achievement, we can find true and lasting happiness.

The Danger of Negative Emotions on Goal Achievement

When you’re focused on a goal, it’s easy to become obsessed with the end result and forget about the journey. This can lead to negative emotions like anxiety, depression, and even resentment. These negative emotions can actually prevent you from achieving your goal.

Negative emotions can sabotage your efforts in many ways. For one, they can sap your motivation and make it harder to stay on track. Additionally, they can lead you to make poor decisions that set you back instead of helping you move forward. Negative emotions can simply make it harder to enjoy the process and savor the moments along the way.

It’s important to remember that your goals are not worth sacrificing your happiness. The arrival fallacy is the belief that achieving a goal will finally bring happiness – when in reality, it’s often the journey itself that is most rewarding. So don’t let negative emotions get in the way of your goals – focus on enjoying the process and savoring the moments along the way.

Why You Should Focus on the Process, Not Just the Outcome

When it comes to happiness, the old saying goes that it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. But what does that actually mean?

It means that you should focus more on the process of achieving your goals, and less on the outcome. Why is this? Because the process is what you’ll actually be spending your time doing, and it’s also where you have the most control.

Think about it this way: if you’re trying to lose weight, you can’t control whether or not you eventually reach your goal weight. But you can control what you eat and how much you exercise each day. And those are the things that will determine whether or not you succeed in losing weight.

The same is true for any other goal you might have. You can’t control the outcome, but you can control the process. So focus on that, and let go of worrying about the end result.

Tips for Enjoying Life While Working Toward Your Goals

1. Make time for enjoyments outside of work – it is important to have things in your life that you enjoy doing for fun, relaxation, and de-stressing.

2. Find a balance between work and play – too much work and no play can make you feel bogged down and stressed, while too much play and no work can make you feel aimless and unfulfilled. Finding a healthy balance is key to enjoying life while working toward your goals.

3. Don’t forget about your relationships – often, our work goals can consume us to the point where we neglect our personal relationships. Remember to schedule time for your loved ones and make an effort to connect with them on a deeper level, outside of work obligations.

4. Live in the present moment – it can be easy to get caught up in thoughts of the future or dwelling on the past, but neither of those things are productive or enjoyable. Learning to live in the present moment will help you savor life’s joys as they happen and better appreciate all that you have accomplished thus far.


The arrival fallacy reminds us that the journey, not just the destination, is important. Although achieving our goals can bring a temporary feeling of joy and accomplishment, it won’t guarantee long-term happiness or fulfillment. To truly reap the benefits of our hard work and effort along the way, we must learn to savor each victory and every small success in order to keep ourselves motivated for future successes. So let’s be mindful of the present moment — living with intention — as we plot our paths towards future goals!

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