In his recent book Happier, Harvard University professor Tal Ben-Shahar focuses on the notion that happiness is not a destination or an end-point for one to achieve; happiness lies in the journey itself. "Attaining lasting happiness requires that we enjoy the journey on our way toward a destination we deem valuable. Happiness, therefore, is not about making it to the peak of the mountain, nor is it about climbing aimlessly around the mountain: happiness is the experience of climbing toward the peak" (Tal Ben-Shahar).
Ben-Shahar emphasizes the idea of being happier, and one can focus on increasing their state of happiness by striking a balance between living in the present and focusing on the future. "When you learn how to live for today and for tomorrow at the same time, you learn how to balance your immediate personal needs with long-term goals and enjoy life as you never have before" (Tal Ben-Shahar).
In addition, Tal Ben-Shahar developed a unique model of happiness known as "The Hamburger Model" to help demonstrate the different ways which one can go about living their life:
Rat Race (Vegetarian Burger*)
This is the burger that's healthy, but not tasty. People in this quadrant of the model forgo pleasure in the moment in order to pursue goals they believe will make them happy in the future. They live according to a "no pain, no gain" principle, and believe that once they finally achieve this future-directed goal they will achieve sustained happiness. They are forever in a rat race, continuously chasing the next goal, and hence do not enjoy the pleasure or happiness the present moment has to offer.
Nihilism (Worst Burger)
This is the burger that's both unhealthy and tastes awful. People in this quadrant have given up on the idea that they can be happy, and are resigned to the belief that things will never get better for them. They often ruminate about the past and what went wrong or think about all the things that could have been.
Hedonism (Junk Food Burger)
This is the burger that's unhealthy but tastes delicious. People in this quadrant believe that they can maintain happiness by going from pleasurable activity to pleasurable activity, with disregard for the future. They live only for the present moment, not thinking about consequences.
Happiness (Ideal Burger)
This is the burger that's both healthy AND delicious! People in this quadrant lead a balanced life that includes pleasure, fulfilment, and enjoyment. They live for both today and tomorrow, engaging in activities that gratify them in the present moment, but at the same time contribute to a future that is both meaningful and satisfying.
*While we need to respect the integrity of Dr Ben Shahar's model as an excellent metaphor for happiness, please note that the creators of this website actually think vegetarian diets can be quite delicious :)