We all have some goal or thing that we are working towards. Something that we think might make us happy.
“If only I had X, my life would be so much better.”
But the truth is, most likely, you won’t be any happier once you get it. You might have a brief honeymoon period where you feel happy, but eventually you’ll just move on to desiring the next thing, and nothing will have changed.
Assuming you’re privileged enough to not be seeking basic necessities like food, warmth, or shelter, then very few of the things that we desire for will have any lasting power over our happiness.
I first encountered this idea in a book called “Growing Up With Lucy: How to Build an Android in Twenty Easy Steps” by Steve Grand. Grand was experimenting with artificial intelligence, and peppered throughout the book are some of his thoughts about how the human brain works. This comment was part of that:
“We have a goal that we think will make us deliriously happy, but by the time we reach it, our desires change and our attention shifts to desiring something else, leaving us forever pursuing unattainable happiness.”
I read this book more than a third of my life ago - and I don’t have a copy handy - so you’ll forgive me for paraphrasing. That sentiment has been rattling around in my head for close to a decade. Sadly, it’s the only thing I remember clearly from the book (Which is a shame, because I think I would understand it and enjoy it much more now, compared to when I read it then!), but that one off-hand comment changed how I think about what I want in life.