I read a great quote the other day, from the actor Denzel Washington. He was talking about how so many people thought that when they got that job, had that car, lost that weight, or bought that house that then, they would be happy. He called it destination happiness, and he warned against it.
Why? Because it sets you up for a lifetime of feeling like you are never have enough, or are enough. There is a big difference between having goals (especially financial ones) and thinking that reaching those goals is finally going to make you happy. Because chances are it won’t. You are still the same person you were before, and acquiring one goal usually means you are going to find another, then chase that, expecting that to be the silver bullet that will make you happy.
While I am a huge advocate for financial goals, I also know that money, and the things it can buy, can bring you pleasure and comfort, but not lasting happiness. That is an inside job, and it comes from being happy with who you are.
I remember my father telling me the secret to life, on one of our many walks with our dog when I was in my 20s.
“Vanessa, remember this, the secret to life is being happy with who you are, and what you have, right now,” he said and it has always stuck with me. My father immigrated from Serbia post World War II. He came to Australia with the clothes on his back and worked migrant jobs that nobody else wanted to set himself up.
My Dad died three years ago, and he was and continues to be, one of the most positive influences in my life. He was always a happy man. He got great satisfaction from the little things. It made him good to be around, and he made me feel good about myself. He was never a wealthy man, but he was rich in what mattered. And that was because he knew happiness and money were not related. That happiness came from being satisfied with your life, and being hopeful for the future.
So, I encourage and applaud you having financial goals. They are essential. To get out of debt, to save for that home, or contribute to your retirement via super are all going to improve your quality of life. But I also urge you to think about where your happiness comes from. Are you waiting for that magical day when you reach your goals and it arrives? Or, are you happy now, without having reached your goal destination?
In watching Disney Pixar’s latest movie, Soul, I realised that this is a struggle so many people go through. In that movie a jazz musician dies before he gets to play his first big gig. Without spoiling the storyline, he ends up realising that his goal was preventing him for enjoying what he already had. The taste of pizza, the comfort of good friends, and the joy of being alive. It was a great message for Disney to be storytelling, so kids can start thinking about the concept from a young age.
After all, happiness is not the destination – it is the journey.
Until next time,