Dr. Ben-Shahar said arrival fallacy is the reason some Hollywood stars struggle with mental health issues and substance abuse later in life.
“These individuals start out unhappy, but they say to themselves, ‘It’s O.K. because when I make it, then I’ll be happy,’” he said. But then they make it, and while they may feel briefly fulfilled, the feeling doesn’t last. “This time, they’re unhappy, but more than that they’re unhappy without hope,” he explained. “Because before they lived under the illusion — well, the false hope — that once they make it, then they’ll be happy.”
The problem is that achievement doesn’t equal happiness — at least not over the long term. But this isn’t a message that most of us are familiar with. In fact, it’s almost antithetical to the American dream, which tells us that hard work and achievement deliver a happy life. And so we push our children to become captain of the travel soccer squad, a first-chair player in the orchestra and student body president, because we want them to be successful. We want them to be happy.