5) No magic bullet: There’s no such thing as “the good old days” or a future time when you’ll “have it made.” There’s only the appeal of things you had or want that you don’t have. Whether it be sex, love, money, fame, friendship, success, or things, whatever you don’t have in hand tends to look much more attractive. It’s just like they say: the grass really is always greener on the other side of the fence. But then, when you finally get to that plush green grass on the other side of the fence, it may not be brown, but it’s never quite as lush and wonderful as it appeared. Sometimes you start to see the downside you missed before and it’s just not as satisfying as you imagined.
That doesn’t mean nothing will ever please you long term; it’s an acknowledgment that there is no magic bullet, no magic key, and no magic anything. Yes, studies show that getting married or becoming a Christian will make you happier, but there’s no one treasure you can have, do, or be that will make you happy and keep you happy over the long term. Most studies even show that the ultimate stroke of good fortune — winning the lottery — only produces a short-term burst of happiness that regresses back to the mean over time for people who have already achieved a minimal level of financial security. Contrary to what I believed when I was young, happiness is a process that has to be maintained over time, not a result of some moment, achievement, or thing.
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