The Problem With Happy

Arrival Fallacy

We are always getting ready to live but never living.–Ralph Waldo Emerson

When’s the last time you thought, “Once I get that job I’ll be happy” or “Once I meet that guy I’ll be happy” or “ Once I fill-in-the-blank I’ll be happy?”

In his book “Happier,” Tal Ben-Shahar calls this the arrival fallacy – the belief that when you arrive at a certain destination, you’ll finally be content or happy.

The problem is no matter what goal we achieve or what feat we tackle, there is something in us that makes us feel as though we will never arrive. Often times when we accomplish a particular goal we are faced with new challenges or we set our sights on a new, loftier one. We’ll buy that perfect outfit, but then spill coffee on it or get tired of it and covet a new pair of leather boots. We think goals, possessions, or relationships will complete us when they were never intended to.

The arrival fallacy robs us of joy in the present because we’re too focused on the future. We find ourselves imagining a happier future when the present is passing us by. We are over preoccupied with getting ourselves perfect enough to live that we’re not really living at all. We’re so focused on the destination that we miss the journey.

This is your life. This is the day you’ve dreamt of last week, last year. Show up and be here now.

You have arrived.

 Image via Mackenzie Rouse


Allie is a writer, dreamer, and kooky surfer-girl/wannabe cowgirl who lives in North Santa Barbara County. She serves as the Founder and Director of Wonderfully Made, a non-profit dedicated to helping young women know their value and worth.

5 COMMENTS
  • Nidhi Anand January 15, 2014

    Love! Didn’t even know there was such a thing as an “arrival fallacy,” but I did see there being an issue with me constantly waiting for something to change in my life to achieve some level of happyness. It’s like a constant pursuit. “Live in the present” has never meant more! Thanks for sharing.

  • Corlie November 21, 2013

    I’ve done this a lot. My husband is really the one who taught me to stop and just appreciate. Just stop and appreciate.
    http://blog.redbuffalotrading.com

  • Julia Ismail November 15, 2013

    AMAZING! Speak the truth girl! Thank you for writing this 🙂

  • Allie Marie Smith November 12, 2013

    Thanks so much Summer!

  • Summer November 12, 2013

    I absolutely love this! Thank you for writing it so eloquently & beautifully, Allie. Well done! 🙂

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