I just finished grad school a few days ago, and the week leading up to graduation, one of the most common questions that I got from friends and family was “How does it feel?”

I think they wanted to hear something along the lines of “It feels amazing. I can’t believe how happy I am. This is awesome,” but instead, my responses was “It doesn’t really feel much different than any other day.” That isn’t too say that I wasn’t relieved and happy to graduate, but it wasn’t an overwhelming or lasting sense of additional happiness beyond my standard setting.

It seems like some of my friends felt the same way, because I heard from a few of them that finishing school was melodramatic anticlimatic more than anything else. I think you expect to have this rush of happiness after you take your last final or hand in your last assignment, but it doesn’t appear.

I recently started reading The Happiness Hypothesis, and I came across the progress principle, which I think helps explain why that rush of happiness doesn’t come at the end. The idea is that:
<blockquote>Pleasure comes more from making progress toward goals than from achieving them.</blockquote>I’ll save you from all the details of why this is true, but they are in the book if you are interested.

So, the next time you set out to accomplish some goal, remember to enjoy the journey to the fullest, because that is where you’ll find the most happiness waiting for you.