What is Destination Addiction?
Are you unhappy or unsettled but believe that happiness is just around the corner if you can only find the right home, the perfect partner, or a new job? Are you constantly looking to move, to upgrade, or to change something up with the hopes that things will suddenly improve? Is right now never good enough?
You might be struggling with “destination addiction.”
Dr. Robert Holden, credited with coining the term, says this about destination addiction:
People who suffer from Destination Addiction believe that success is a destination. They are addicted to the idea that the future is where success is, happiness is, and heaven is. Each passing moment is merely a ticket to get to the future. They live in the “not now,” they are psychologically absent, and they disregard everything they have. Destination Addiction is a preoccupation with the idea that happiness is somewhere else. We suffer, literally, from the pursuit of happiness. We are always on the run, on the move, and on the go. Our goal is not to enjoy the day, it is to get through the day. We have always to get to somewhere else first before we can relax and before we can savor the moment. But we never get there. There is no point of arrival. We are permanently dissatisfied.”
In his TED Talk on on the topic, Dr. Holden shares, “Until you give up the idea that happiness is somewhere else, you’ll never really be happy where you are.” Holden maintains that those struggling with destination addiction are “constantly striving but never arriving.” They might struggle with anxiety, depression, or feelings of disillusionment.
Doesn’t destination addiction seem to summarize life in our current day and age ? Isn’t everyone you know pursuing multiple goals with unprecedented urgency and demand? Aren’t we all comparing ourselves against each other’s accomplishments (relationships, kids, new homes, travel, meals, etc.)? And is this really such a problem?
What’s Wrong with Having a Destination?
To start, as Dr. Holden suggests, you’re living focused on the future, ignoring what’s happening in the present. You’re focused on what you don’t have, rather than what you do. You’re comparing yourself to others and coming up short. You’re constantly thinking about what could be versus what actually is. And if you’re always looking to be somewhere else, you’re never okay with where you are.
And yet everything we know about happiness and contentment highlights the importance of living in the “now” and of cultivating acceptance and gratitude. The path to contentment is diametrically opposed to destination addiction.
How to Address Destination Addiction
So, is it wrong to have goals, to focus on the future, or plan for what we want?
Of course not.
But when we focus on the future to the exclusion of the present, we’re missing out on what’s in front of us. We’re missing out on everything that’s working well, and we’re forgetting to count our blessings, no matter how challenging our difficulties. And as Ferris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
Destination addiction causes a more frenetic life pace and results in us missing out even more. According to Dr. Holden, the solution is to slow down, give the present moment “another chance,” and focus on how to have a “better relationship with now.”