Inside looking out: The new American addiction
Today sat on a park bench enjoying the emerging sunshine of the morning. Suddenly, he looks out and sees Tomorrow about to run past him.
“Hey, where you going?” asked Today.
Struggling to catch his breath, Tomorrow stopped to answer.
“I got a lot to do, so much to get ready.”
“Ready for what?”
“I’m gonna start a brand-new life. Gonna find a new job, a new place to a live, and find a partner who wants to be my soul mate.”
“Why don’t you sit down with me and enjoy a moment of this beautiful morning?” said Today. “It’ll be gone before you know it.”
“No time,” replied Tomorrow. “I got too much to do.”
“So where’s the new job?” Is it across the street? Across the country? Where you moving to and who’s the soul mate?”
Don’t have the answers yet, but they’re out there somewhere and I’m going to find them all. They’re not here, that’s for sure.”
Today looks to his left and sees Yesterday standing behind Tomorrow.
“This is the third time you’re looking for a new job, the fourth time you are moving to a better place, and you thought the last two partners were your soul mates.”
“I’m leaving you way behind me, Yesterday,” said Tomorrow. “The future is calling me to my happiness.”
“So you’re just trying to get through the day here so you can find your happiness somewhere else?” Today asked with a puzzled expression. “What if you never find it? What if you never get there?”
“I’ll keep trying until I do. I have a good plan.”
“Your last three plans didn’t work,” said Yesterday.”
“Sit down with me and enjoy a moment,” said Today.
“That would be a waste of my time. I do that sort of thing the weekends.”
“You’ve been giving up five days a week to get to two your whole life,” said Yesterday.
“Life, my friend, is not a destination,” said Today. “You don’t skip the beginning and the middle of a novel and just read the end or show up for the last act of a play or go to a fancy restaurant and eat just dessert. You’re missing the moments of each day while you keep planning your future. Keep it up and all you’ll have left is a pile of empty yesterdays.”
“He already has that pile,” said Yesterday. “It’s just going to get bigger.”
“Oh, I can’t stay and listen to you two waste more of my time. I have to be somewhere in a half-hour and somewhere else after that.”
Dr. Robert Holden asks us this startling question: “Do you live your life only to get to the end of it?” He defines Destination Addiction as a frantic and neurotic behavior in which people believe that the pursuit of happiness will lead to a happy ending.
According to Holden, those afflicted with DA have a preoccupation that happiness is somewhere else. They live in the “not now” and are psychologically absent from the present moment. Holden explains that people with DA are like “runaway trains bound for a station called “NEXT.” He says that to some degree, we all possess a bit of this condition.
The symptoms of Destination Addiction are common to many of us, according to Dr. Mark D. Griffiths in his article, “The Search for Happiness.”
“Whatever you are doing, you are always thinking about what comes next.
You cannot afford to stop because you always have to be somewhere else. You are always in a hurry, even when you don’t need to be. You always promise that next year you will be less busy. Your dream home is always the next home you plan to buy. You don’t like your job, but it has good prospects for the future. You never commit fully to anything in case something better comes along, and that includes relationships. You hope the next big success will finally make you happy. You always think you should be further ahead of where you are now.”
According to Griffiths, Destination Addicts are hypercritical and are forever “should-ing” on themselves — “I should be further in my career by now,” “I should have gotten married by now” or “I should have achieved more by now.” Destination Addiction causes us to be permanently impatient with ourselves.
Of course, time and life pass and can leave Destination Addicts with much regret.
I’ve had some symptoms of Destination Addiction and I’ve come to this conclusion about those whom I would consider to be addicts. The constant search for happiness makes one constantly unhappy.
A friend once put it this way. The past is a memory. The future is an illusion. Be happy now.
Rich Strack can be reached at email@example.com.