Parenting: Enjoying the finish line – happiness in the here and now

Parenting can be a search for your kid's next milestone, rather than reveling in the happiness of the here and now, or that finish line of the moment.

Parenting and the finish line: The search for your kid's next milestone can obscure the happiness of the here and now, or that finish line of the moment. Here, Kenya's Mary Keitany crosses the finish line to win the London Marathon, London, April 22, 2012.

A common happiness hurdle is the arrival fallacy. We think that we’ll be happy once we arrive at some destination: a new job, a new apartment, a promotion, whatever. But often, arriving doesn’t make us as happy as we expect.

That’s very true, and I struggle to remember it, and also to remind myself of what my father says so often: “Enjoy the process.”

But this week I’ve also been reminding myself of one of my Secrets of Adulthood: the opposite of a profound truth is also true. Just as I should enjoy the process, and not wait for the happiness of crossing the finish line, I should also do the opposite, and revel in the happiness of crossing a finish line.

Too often, I don’t take the time to experience the satisfaction that comes from finishing. I turn immediately to the next thing I need to do, or the next finish line I need to cross, without pausing for a little moment of triumph.

For instance, if all goes according to plan, next Monday will mark a giant finish line for me. I’ve been working for months on a major overhaul of this blog, and on Monday, you’ll see the new and improved version. I hope you like it!

It was an enormous undertaking, but I can already feel myself starting to think, “OK, now time to tinker with the Happiness Project Toolbox,” “Now I can focus on Pinterest,” “I need to tackle that new stack of research,” etc

But – this will be an exciting moment. I want to appreciate it.

It’s important not to expect too much happiness at the finish line, but I don’t want to enjoy no happiness at the finish line. As Nietzche explained it: “The end of a melody is not its goal; but nonetheless, if the melody had not reached its end it would not have reached its goal either. A parable.”

Do you ever find yourself doing this: not taking a moment to enjoy crossing a finish line? It seems as though it would be so easy, but I find it difficult.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best family and parenting bloggers out there. Our contributing and guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor, and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. Gretchen Rubin blogsat The Happiness Project,

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of 5 free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.