Why the journey is sometimes even sweeter than the goal

by Melody on December 29, 2011

I’m reading Gretchen Rubin’s “The Happiness Project”, which is basically her year-long voyage to becoming happier.  She breaks her goals and resolutions down by month and makes small changes to her lifestyle, behavior and mood.  I love the breakdown and the idea of setting manageable goals to make life more enjoyable.

One of the ideas that has resonated with me is her description of the “Arrival Fallacy”.  What this essentially means is that we anticipate our goals or events in the future so much and overestimate how much fun and joy they will bring us, that we forget to enjoy the moments that build up to said event.

The more I think about this idea in relation to Christmas, the more it strikes a chord with me.  I thoroughly enjoy Christmas as a general concept, not just the actual day itself.  I do love spending time with my family and enjoying a nice dinner, but the day is over so quickly and it seems like all the time spent preparing, buying gifts, wrapping gifts and just thinking about how great Christmas will be is gone in a flash.

We prepared a fairly loose Bucket List this year at the beginning of the month and I really feel like this helped us enjoy the little moments.  We did all the things we wanted to do (decorating cookies, checking out lights, seeing the reindeer) without feeling rushed.  The actual day of Christmas was nice, but I feel like we did a good job of really appreciating all the small memories that the month of December brings.

This concept can be applied to so many different things: birthday parties, weddings, holidays.  I truly hope that our family can put this into practice throughout the year.  For example, I tend to get stressed out about birthday parties.  I’m hoping by consciously thinking about how fun it is to plan a party and not just how great the party itself will supposedly be, I can stop viewing the planning as a chore.

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Stephanie December 30, 2011 at 12:34 am

I was just telling Ben tonight that planning and preparing for Kaylee’s birthday has been so fun this week that even if everything falls apart at the last minute I’m spending quality time with friends and learning new skills (cake making) that make all the prep work worth it. Good Post Melody!


Randi December 30, 2011 at 6:07 pm

You know how sometimes a comment (or post in this case) comes along at just the right time. When you are really ready or willing to hear it? Your post was that, thank you. Great idea for a new year resolution. Find the joy in each day. My kids do…need to take direction from them. 🙂


Melody December 30, 2011 at 6:19 pm

Oh Randi, I feel that way all the time. Just when I am particularly down and out about something or being hard on myself, a friend (or post) comes along at just the right time. Glad it resonated with you!


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