Reblogging because I agree with the spirit of this (although perhaps not the “narcissistic” part). I think you could say the same thing about success - it’s a by-product, not something you pursue for its own sake. I heard an interview with a musician on a talk show once, and the things he said have stayed with me. The interviewer asked “what would you tell all the kids who want to be a rock star when they grow up?” and he answered, “you don’t aim to be a ‘rock star.’ It has to be about the music - your goal is to be a great musician. Success or recognition may come from that, but it’s a result of your efforts to excel at your craft.”
A colleague mentioned the psychological theory of “hedonic adaptation” - basically, the idea that we get used to happiness, and so we want something different, something “more.” What once excited us becomes the new normal, and we know that other adventures await.
A new relationship - whether platonic or romantic - can give us a contact high, at least for awhile, until we start feeling comfortable, until we start taking each other for granted. And the thrill of victory - of achieving a goal, of winning a prize - fades pretty quickly, because we know there are better things out there.
I remember getting the news that I’d been accepted to the graduate program of my choice; I wanted to dance, to shout from the rooftops. That excitement quickly faded, giving way to the adventure of moving to a new town, making new friends, and learning wonderful and difficult new things. And there was a time when I was excited to write this dissertation, but at this point, I just want the damned thing to be finished, so I can move on to other things.
Bigger, better things.
But it occurs to me that I can keep a sense of awareness about all this. I can remember to count my blessings, and to consciously appreciate past achievements. I can make an effort to not take my relationships for granted, or to allow former joys to diminish in importance.
I can remember to be grateful.