Happiness and life goals

Happiness and life goals

Please allow me to share with you something that was recently shared with me (thanks to Prof Michael Frisch)…some highlights and paraphrasings from this fascinating study by a giant and elder in our field:

Life Goals Matter to Happiness: A Revision of Set-Point Theory Bruce Headey Social Indicators Research, April , 2008, vol. 86(2), pp213-231

Over a 15-20 year period, conscious life goals matter both to overall happiness and to accomplishing goals.

Having life goals can change your happiness set-point and your overall happiness at any point in your life. The Set-Point theory of happiness needs to be revised to account for the effects of life goals on happiness and important changes in happiness.

Taking responsibility leads to or is important to grit and success. A learnable tendency to take responsibility for one’s own achievements and failures is associated with GRIT/persistence/perseverance and good coping skills. Taking responsibility may be crucial to goal achievement.

This paper provides evidence that life goals matter substantially to subjective wellbeing (SWB).

Non-zero sum goals, which include commitment to family, friends and social and political involvement, promote life satisfaction.

Zero sum goals, including commitment to career success and material gains, appear detrimental to life satisfaction.

— One speculation is that gains in zero sum domains are not satisfying because of the competition involved; all you have got to look forward to after one set of goals is achieved is renewed competition. By contrast, an improving family life or satisfying social activities may be found intrinsically satisfying. Further, one is likely to receive positive feedback from family members and other people closely affected.

What makes for a happy person? Part of the answer seems to be a desire to pursue non-zero sum family related and altruistic goals.

Food for thought!?!?