It happens to the best of us.
It’s why Sunday evenings and Monday mornings are mixed with remorse and the first day after a vacation seems to drag on in a funk.
We’re suckers for happy endings that stay that way. After all, the stories we prefer usually end with happily ever after.
Myth 7: Happiness is ever after.
The best moments of the weekend, a fun event or vacation are blissful, yet can also be mixed with an irresistible desire of wanting the moment to last forever.
Many of us have a tendency to cling on to what’s familiar. We’re wired (based on survival instinct) to prefer the familiar instead of the unknown.
When things are going well, it’s natural to want everything to stay the same.
The trouble is, it can’t. It just doesn’t work that way.
When something that’s great lasts forever, you lose your appreciation for it. The experience comes from the novelty and whatever specialness happened to create the feeling.
And while we know this, we still attempt to fool ourselves in our denial.
The experience is also somewhat of an escape. During extremely happy or enjoyable experiences, it’s almost like problems, worries and unresolved questions disappear temporarily.
I experienced this just the other week having had the quintessential summer weekend: biking around in the morning, seeing friends, making paella for dinner and hammocking with my husband.
On Sunday evening, we both remarked how wonderful of a weekend it was and what if every day could be like this, showing just how alluring this myth of happiness is.
At some point the reality hits us. On Monday morning, we’re faced with the same problems we had before.
Disappointment and a mild case of misery ensue.
It often comes as the post-vacay blues, but at worst, it can even hamper the vacation to the point we aren’t able to enjoy the moment for what it is.
While we’re at the beach, we’re thinking of the minutes ticking away, of all the work we have yet to do. While sipping sangria on the hammock, you wish you could do this for the whole day. While vacationing in Bali, you bemoan that you only have a day left before your return flight.
Clinging creates suffering, an unnecessary version that is entirely self-inflicted.
Clinging to anything—whether it is a vacation, a perfect weekend, a job, a relationship—the act prevents your ability to feel happiness because it defies the temporal, evolving nature that is life.
Instead, learn to embrace the moment for what it is—in a practice called detached engagement.
In this practice, you approach life with openness and curiosity while letting things fall the way they are meant to be. In accepting life as it ebbs and flows, the imperfection in the present moment along with the amazing experiences, you are closer to happiness than if you try to control what happens.
This involves letting go, mindfulness, of being at peace with yourself and the world. It involves accepting the good with the bad, of knowing that no matter what happens, you will choose happiness.
Do you fall for this final myth of happily ever after? Thank you for following along as we’ve explored the myths of happiness over the past several weeks. Check out the previous 6 myths in The 7 Myths of Happiness series here at 1, 2, 3, 4 , 5 and 6.