Today I was listening to “The Happiness Hypothesis

One of the most interesting ideas that he puts forward is that there may be more happiness to be found in moving towards one’s goals than in actually achieving them. The completion of a life’s ambition is, you would think, fantastic. But then what?

There is often a feeling of anticlimax, or “now what?”. And/or a sense that your life was supposed to be transformed by the accomplishment of the goal, but in fact life afterwards is disappointingly similar to life before, but lacking even the eager anticipation of achievement.

I would say that in my experience this is true. My happiest days on the ocean are when I am making good progress towards my goal, counting down the miles to the next significant landmark (seamark?).

Today, though, wasn’t quite like that. I would say that it definitely helps when the progress is perceptible – unlike today. Occasional rain showers killed the wind, leaving me becalmed. I slogged along under sullen grey skies. The miles passed painfully slowly. I kept myself entertained with daydreams about my arrival, my first meal, my first shower, my first night in a proper bed. And reminded myself that I was, in fact, lucky to be going so slowly, giving me longer to savour the prospect of landfall.

I’m just not quite sure that I managed to convince myself.

A thought: If it makes a person happier to move towards a goal than to achieve it, I wonder if it makes sense to set such a ridiculously enormous goal that you’re unlikely ever to achieve it in your lifetime, but include lots of milestones along the way as excuses for interim celebrations?

Other Stuff:

Episode 46 of our Roz Roams podcast is live. Satellite phone coverage in the Indian Ocean is notoriously poor, so dear old Vic has the worst job in the world trying to edit together a podcast from phone calls that are as on-again-off-again as a celebrity romance. Thanks, Vic, for doing such a great job!

Would everybody please put in a good word with Neptune (or your divinity of choice) to ask for some nice helpful winds for me? I’ve done all the boat maintenance and cleaning that needs to be done, so I’m about done with the calm stuff now.

Quote for the day: “The awareness of the ambiguity of one’s highest achievements (as well as one’s deepest failures) is a definite symptom of maturity.” (Paul Tillich)

Sponsored Miles: Grateful thanks to John Griffin, Bruce Gervais, Michael Rupp, Bonnie Sterngold, Brian Smith, Tamara Fogg, Julian Gall, Hans Verwey, Karen Morss, Jennifer Bester, Kamas Industries, Steve Maskell and Doug Grandt.

24 Comments

  • Vic, thank you for puting Roz’s podcast together for us. I have found that editing audio and video is strictly for the insane and people like you that are good at it are worth your weight in gold. You do a great job and I enjoy listening. Thank you.

  •      Hurrah for gross domestic happiness!  I have been working on a house built in the late 19th c., we are using a lot of recycled materials…   mostly wood.  It is much slower than using new materials but the result will be really good. 
         Your thought about setting ridiculous goals made me laugh.  I think I’ll try it.  Will put in a good word or two with the gods for you.
    Fair winds Roz,     Stephen

  • Ah yes, goals. Mankind’s collective subconscious focus, since we fell out of trees, has been striving for the next goal, the next “step forward”. It’s so ingrained into our DNA now. When we could continue in expand and conquer mode it served us well. The problem is now that our goals need to  reverse, in many ways, many of what we used to think was progress. Many goals need to be the very opposite of what they have been for tens or thousands of years. Do you think there is any chance at all that any significant number of goals will be dropped, let alone reversed?

  • I’ve been thinking that the difference in happiness and unhappiness boils down to one’s movement through life. There are two ways to conduct life: linear and circular. Linear is growth-oriented. Circular is acquirement-oriented. Linear allows for forward movement. Circular leads you back where you started on an endless mill. But sometimes the two are hard to tell apart.
    The most obvious example for a circular path is the pursuit of money and material things: You set goals, raise ambition, accomplish and get the reward. But the fulfillment is short-lived. It has to be repeated over again ad nauseum. This is a route of insecurity, unhappiness and ultimately confusion and frustration. (It’s a major force currently driving environmental degradation. I think we’re hard-wired genetically to acquire resources (material, family, etc), and it can be very difficult to get out of this pursue-acquire loop.)The linear route looks more like this: set a goal, work for it, accomplish. Use the growth you obtained along the way to set a new goal, work, and accomplish. It resembles the circular route, but it’s different in that it is growth-driven. The circular route is acquirement-driven with no ground gained. They’re very different. On a linear path we grow along the way and new goals that we couldn’t initially see become possible. I don’t think it’s possible to see our full potential and where we are capable of going from where we currently are because our capabilities unfold as we develop. It’s sort of like being underwater–you can see but not that far. Sometimes the water’s clearer…. So the “now what” question is exactly the right place to be, I think.  The linear route is a remarkable journey, and you, Roz, have pointed me to it. In the short-term it’s much easier to just “get on the circle” and let life wash you away. But forging your own path through life–that’s courageous. Growth can be a difficult and sometimes painful process and ultimately deeply nourishing. It’s hard work to grow! I’m trying to work in a funny belly-flop thing here but I can’t think of anything. Sorry, Jay! 

    • Good, Bruce. Using your analogy, I feel like most of my 64 years I have been orbiting … and recently (since I met Roz?) my orbit has expanded and moved out to the point that I am about to escape the gravitational pull — as though my trajectory is about to go linear straight out and away from the center that has been holding me in the circular pattern. I have always thought I was in a linear mode, stopping along the way to “smell the roses” and make course correction, but looking back, it has been a mix, some linear, but mostly circular … Appreciate you thoughts on this. Getting off the treadmill and into a different plane will bring more opportunities, broadened experiences, roses to savor.

      Row savoringly, Roz!

  • Hi, Roz. I’m still following your adventure with great admiration and look forward to each of your blog posts. You continue to inspire.A well-loved Canadian politician recently died and his son was speaking at his funeral and this quote resonated with me and with what you are speaking to.Jack Layton, the politician always told his son: ‘Always have a dream that is longer than a lifetime’. I thought this quote fit well with your idea about having really big goals. But I wonder, do you really think it makes a person happier to move towards a goal then to achieve it? I can understand why and definitely see how the mini goals along the way would make you feel good, but there is something truly incredible about accomplishing the big goals, isn’t there?Hmm. I’m going to have to think about this one some more.Be safe. Sending love.

  • Funny because I was listening to last weeks podcast and wondering do you ever get to a stage where you don’t want to hit land? Well when I say hit land I mean, is there a part of you that doesn’t want to be back in the rat race…..?

    On goals I always like to see my life’s goal as a legacy…I have written a letter i would love people to want to say about me when I have written my final blog post in the world….each day’ goal is about creating a little history, a little piece of legacy…

    Keep rowing girl….proud of you

  • odd that you mention happiness. seems to be cropping up a lot lately. anyway i have a reality, what most people consider happiness is really euphoria. happiness is a state of being , euphoria is a contrived or exterior related elation. if that makes sense.  for about two years i have been doing my darndest to do healthy things. actually longer, but who’s counting? oh, that would be me. anyway all this negative stuff happened to me lately and yet i float blissfully along over the top of it all. usually i get all involved with negative things if i am the victim, but not now.!! it sorta took me aback, really. then i realized i had been taking care of myself and approaching a point over the years where i was so in tune with my body and mind that i just sorta popped out of the negative trap. all this is rather nice, but it reinforces what i stated about about happiness. i think we all mistake euphoria for happiness a lot. actually one can be happy in a euphoric mood, i think. anyway, i am pretty sure happiness is a state of being and euphoria is a state of mind. one is a little more permanent and easier to deal with. clear as mud?

  • Roz, have been busy today, but finally this sunk in …

    A thought: If it makes a person happier to move towards a goal than to achieve it, I wonder if it makes sense to set such a ridiculously enormous goal that you’re unlikely ever to achieve it in your lifetime, but include lots of milestones along the way as excuses for interim celebrations?

    I suggested at day 100 or 102 or thereabouts that we celebrate your getting halfway from your halfway point to destination. Hmmm, would that be coming up pretty soon. I am hoping you arrive on a date with lots of ones and zeroes … October 1 would be nice … that would put the halfway-from-halfway-mark during the next week or so … party time!

    Row and celebrate halfway from halfway, Roz!

  • Evening Roz, I had a word with a nephew of Neptune. If you be N of EQ and west of 60+10 E , Your next two days will be your best. Top off the batteries and haul out the long sleeves. Everything kicking up by thursday night and rougher each day after that . With cloud cover to boot come sat /sun. Drats. Is what it is ,unless that call makes it to Dorthy in Kansas?
    Or I am just way off.
    Thought for the day-
    “The dance is a poem of which every movement is a word”. Mata Hari
    The man who never changes his opinions never corrects his mistakes.
    Strong kind vibes , across the sky, to massage your shoulders and mind.
    I am  listening, learning and making changes in my own life journey- thank you. Be safe wave cutter .

  • interesting..Happiness equals euphoria?…I don’t think that is always the case Meaenglsh. Setting out “to be happy” sometimes  involves a headlong rush trying to do things or own things to ” make me happy”. The doing may work for a while and the owning may work…for a while. But then more may be needed ?? and so the treadmill /addition starts.
     OK…I have a home and a lovely family and I consider myself fortunate to be able to have enough resources to keep me warm and fed. So, why am I sometimes not “happy”?. The impact  of Illness, worry, awful news reports, pollution, war, famine, disasters etc. etc lead to feeling very unhappy.
     So, should these all be ignored because as a result of these external factors  the possibility of being happy should be theoretically impossible?Is the peaceful moment ,sat by the sea, or a beautiful river with a feeling of calm and tranquility being happy…I think so…but it is not euphoric..it is the reverse, calm. BUT….should it be “allowed”, as all the other horrors in the world continue?  Any ideas????..it is a fearsome conundrum? So, that is my rather garbled and inconclusive  tuppence worth for today.Row safely, swiftly (if allowed) and if you can allow yourself ..have a few happy and calm (inner..not weather!) moments Roz. 

    • oops….my typing  sloppy …the full stop before my last word “Roz” may look as if I am signing off as Roz”. not so!  sorry folks. Anyone know how you can edit posts after they appear please?

      • Hello Leglise,  Yes, if you want to edit your comments, there is a “button” at the bottom right of Roz’s blog each day that says DISQUS.  If you click on that button and set up a profile any comments you make will have an edit button below them. It is a very nice feature, I have used it many times. I keep forgeting to log out though.  There is also a “like” button on the left if you like what Roz Wrote.    Cheers,  Stephen

  • “I learned that most people go through this cycle: Born – Live – Die – Forgotten. As for you, Roz… you will be REMEMBERED for your inspiration to achieve any goal, “one stroke at a time”. And, to have a fascinating obituary someday way, way, way in the future. I wish you warmest Aloha and Love from Hawaii.”

    Thank you, Roz…

    Lorrin

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