The topic is dealt with in The Idiot by Dostoyevsky (via the character Hippolyte).

“Oh, you may be perfectly sure that if Columbus was happy, it was not after he had discovered America, but when he was discovering it…What did the New World matter after all? Columbus had hardly seen it when he died, and in reality he was entirely ignorant of what he had discovered. The important thing is life-life and nothing else! What is any ‘discovery’ whatever compared with the incessant, eternal discovery of life?”

Hippolyte is speculating of course, but his point is well taken. A goal is never the orgasm; instead, the pleasure lies in foreplay. It’s getting from point A to point Z that’s fun – the magical moments on the highway of life.

For Colombus, pleasure most likely came from the process of exploration; not the act of discovery.

I know this to be true. When I was younger, I wrote music that was performed on a major TV show. Prior to that accomplishment, I spent thousands of hours practicing: doing scales, taking singing lessons, etc. And finally, one day, something came of it. Boom! I got a placement.

But the pleasure was fleeting. After a few moments, the elation disappeared and I was left with a nagging question…what next?

Happiness lies in a process….the joy you get when you chase goal. So enjoy every day and embrace every moment. And if achieve the goal, then great! But don’t be fooled…the prize can never complete you.

Once your stomach is full, it’s only a matter of time before you become hungry again.

11 thoughts on “Was Christopher Columbus Happy?

  1. Interesting, and I think the example you give of process towards the goal being the more important than the achievement of the goal. It is from process that most learning, personal growth and professional development is to be derived. But often missed! However, do you subscribe to the “it is better to travel than to arrive” school of thought? Because we DONT, in our old aga believing the exact opposite 😂

    1. “However, do you subscribe to the “it is better to travel than to arrive” school of thought?”

      There’s the interesting thing. We have to set the goal first, which becomes the exciting thing: i.e. let’s go to Rio for Carnival, the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, etc.

      It seems like the goal is what makes us happy on the front end. But upon completion, the journey tends to carry more weight.

  2. my personality likes things done, wrapped up all neat and pretty, with a bow on top … and then to move onto the next thing, getting it finished, wrapped up all neat and pretty, with a bow on top … repeat. and many things i only want to do once (when i was a kid and would clean the house, i would rope off the clean rooms to keep my siblings out! 🙂 )

    but life isn’t made up of neat little boxes, wrapped all pretty with bows on top. life is in the process:

    Philippians 3:10 “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
    12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

    1. “my personality likes things done, wrapped up all neat and pretty, with a bow on top … and then to move onto the next thing, getting it finished, wrapped up all neat and pretty, with a bow on top … repeat.”

      I like in Latin America and I can tell you that your trait is a Western one (as opposed to a Latino one). Americans have an adherence to order that is not shared by most people in the world. And it’s that love for organization which has made the United States the envy of most countries.

      1. that is very interesting; i did not know that! i do know that from my earliest memories i liked order. my mother was not very organized nor neat, and it drove me nuts. she never kept a clean house, and the results of that as i grew up affected me greatly.

      2. That’s excellent that – despite being raised on way – you chose a better route. Not many people do that; instead, they simply repeat bad habits.

      3. thank you. truly, only by the grace of God. in my earliest memories – preschool, even, i wanted a different path, a different life. my therapist called me the ‘Bridge’ … bridging my past lineage of yuckiness for future generations with Jesus. it’s been an interesting journey 🙂

      4. I like that term. It sounds like you have overcome quite bit to get to where you are now. That is an excellent lesson for your children.

      5. 🙂

        i have; and it is.

        and they know. and they are very grateful. my Youngest has realized recently how much it has taken to raise her, and she began feeling guilty about it. i had to remind her that God chose to instill this desire in me to be a Mommy from the time i was very little – i clearly remember wanting to be a Mommy when i was 4 years old. and it was God who chose to give her to me. how could i not give everything i could to raise her to be the best she could be? it takes a lot of humility to accept the sacrifices another makes for you – tis also been a good lesson for her to learn.

        and it has helped me tremendously to help them. (here are some ways i helped them during some very, very difficult years:

  3. i think it’s good and healthy to reach goals but equally good and healthy to continue to have more goals to reach toward.

  4. But I think you’re underestimating the glories of accomplishment, my Good Lord. Seizing the Aztec gold must have been as great a thrill as thrusting the royal flag into fertile Mexica land. Both achievements had to have had their orgasmic sides. X.

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