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A Real Conversation about Destination Addiction

Happiness is on the horizon, but it can also be found in the now.

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Destination Addiction is not a diagnosis that can be found in the DSM-5, yet the criteria seems to be common among many people; (1) believing that happiness is in the next accomplishment or material item, (2) inner conflict from not achieving set expectations within a certain time period, and (3) not being able to enjoy the present circumstances because they don’t seem as desirable as the future. If Destination Addiction (DA) were a real diagnosis I would imagine it would be classified as an Anxiety Disorder. Dr. Robert Holden describes Destination Addiction as a “nonstop approach to inner peace”, and also provides further symptomalogy for the term.

This conversation will focus less on the diagnostic side and more on the common themes of Destination Addiction. It will also address how to neutralize the persistent thoughts that may keep someone from living their best life in the here and now. Living in a microwave society has a direct effect on our thoughts and behaviors. Social media can have one believing that everyone has more, is doing more, is living better, and that all of these things are happening overnight. The Roommates Podcast invited special guest Taylor Rooks, sports journalist and broadcaster, to discuss success and self-awareness. The conversation covered the topic of destination addiction in which Taylor provided her insight in stating that her former professor advised that it is healthier to be driven by the pull of something positive, rather than the push of something negative.

The idea that happiness can come from the next accomplishment or tangible item can cause people to look beyond the present accomplishments they have already achieved, or hyper-focus on the absence of the them. Phrases commonly used with DA are “life will be better once I lose weight”, “once I get my dream job I will be satisfied”, “my next vacation will be better than the one I’m on now”, “when I get married and have kids then I will be happy.” All of these things may be true, but it places happiness in something other than ourselves that intends to occur in the future.

Secondly, the inner conflict that can ensue as a direct result of DA can be reflective of symptoms that mirror anxiety, depression, and other intense feelings of distress. The conflict happens when the desire for happiness is present, but the pursuit of happiness is never-ending. This leaves a person susceptible to the the opinions of others during the decision making process, feelings of uncertainty about lifestyle goals, and guilt or shame if the journey doesn’t meet the expectations.

Finally, a more desirable future does not have to equal a less than desirable present. The fact that happiness is achievable in the current moment can lead to the realization that inner peace cannot come from where you are in life or what you do. Working on self-awareness can assist with reframing our thoughts to seek greatness now, and using our inner motivation in healthy ways to seek more later.

5 Suggestions for Decreasing DA and Increasing Present Satisfaction

  1. Take notes in which you track at least one thing that you identified as a reason to be happy every day for a month and review this list regularly.
  2. Be honest with yourself about realistic achievable goals that you want for yourself, not because of someone else or the idea that life will be better later.
  3. Do not compare your journey to anyone else’s.
  4. Use the time between being where you currently are to prepare for the destination of where you desire to be.
  5. Understand the journey is a process. Reframing your thoughts to more positive ways of thinking requires daily action.

Please be advised this is not a substitute for clinical information, and an accurate mental diagnosis with a treatment plan can only be made with a clinical evaluation done by a licensed mental health professional.

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