Jump directly to the Content
Jump directly to the Content

Sermon Illustrations

Home > Sermon Illustrations

Arrival Fallacy

Recently The NY Times devoted a whole column to a familiar dynamic: You finally did it. You got the promotion, secured the raise, finished the project or leveled up in your career. It’s a wonderful feeling of accomplishment! But then you come down from that high, and reality starts to sink in: Where do you go from here? You have experienced “Arrival Fallacy,” the illusion that once we make it, once we attain our goal, we will reach lasting happiness. But it’s just nowhere near as large or permanent as envisioned.

Psychologist 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.” 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. 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 over the long term. But this message is 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 soccer squad, or student body president, because we want them to be successful and happy. And then, when they’re 34, fresh off a big achievement and so deeply unhappy that they find themselves sobbing in their truck in a Walmart parking lot, they could end up feeling as though something is inherently broken within them.

Professor Jamie Gruman says, “The No. 1 predictor of happiness is the quality time we spend with people we care about and who care about us. In other words, relationships. Focusing on a career at the expense of, say, a marriage, could ultimately leave us feeling lonely and unmoored.”

Source: David Zahl, “If I Can Just Understand the Arrival Fallacy, I’ll Be Happy,” Mockingbird (5-5-19); A.C. Shelton, “You Accomplished Something Great. So Now What?” The New York Times (5-28-19)

Related Sermon Illustrations

Country Singer Merle Haggard's Restless Soul

Country music icon Merle Haggard (1937-2016), had 38 of his albums appear on Billboard's country-music top 10 charts (more than a dozen made it to Number One). He also had 38 Number ...

[Read More]

The Mike Tyson Paradox of Happiness and Goals

Mike Tyson is one of the greatest boxers of all time. Over his career, “Iron Mike” had 50 wins, including 44 knockouts, and only six losses. Coming from a difficult childhood, ...

[Read More]