Pretty much overrated.
I'm taking my eight year old to DC this weekend, just girls. She's practically floating, giddy with anticipation. She talks about what she's packing, what she'll wear, what we'll see and how much of her saved money she should bring. She's anticipating her happiness and I have to clamp my mouth shut not to say "It's just one day, one night. It will be over in a blink."
Because for me, it's already Monday morning. I'm on to the next thing. I've always been this way, living in the future instead of the past or, as is extremely difficult, the present. I have trouble enjoying anything because I know how short lived it is. I think of it as disaster-preparedness. If I'm always anticipating the end, then I won't be disappointed.
The downside, of course is that by anticipating the end, by fast forwarding beyond the thing that might be fleeting or difficult, I've missed the bloody thing.
I've been having dreams about my submissions. They're always weird (all my dreams are weird. I'm not able to have a dream where something surreal doesn't happen.) Sometimes they're rejections and sometimes they're requests for edits that are so ridiculous and impossible that it's worse than a rejection (or pass.) And all the time I'm churning, churning, trying to figure out how to triage the damage.
The thing that I'm missing by concentrating on what could be happening with my submissions (and what I have ABSOLUTELY NO control over) is the pretty damn good WIP I'm working on now. I showed it to my group and they were excited and hooked. They both said how much the writing has grown. This made me happy for about 10 seconds before thoughts (or dreams) of my submission process came in and made it rain.
Why is happiness so short lived? What do we expect to feel over our accomplishments? And why are we so quick to dismiss good feelings while lingering over bad ones? Easy to say human nature, but I think it's something else. I think we're conditioned to be fearful - at least I am.
There's a really interesting TED video on happiness by Dan Gilbert below. I think it's pretty savvy on how you could (but often don't) make your own happiness.