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.