Finding happiness – work hard and think long-term

Finding happiness – work hard and think long-term

There_ã_s a difference between short-term and long-term happiness. Newly published research shows that when you are working out in aerobics class or doing your taxes, you may not enjoy the moment, but you will on average feel happier and more competent when it_ã_s finished. The good news, though, is that you will be happy BOTH in the short term AND in the long term when doing activities that feel self-directed or freely chosen or that increase your connection to a friend.

The New Research on Short-Term and Long-Term Happiness

This news comes from Ryan Howell at San Franscisco State University, USA, and his colleagues, David Chenot, Graham Hill and Colleen Howell, in a research paper published online this month by the Journal of Happiness Studies. Perhaps even more importantly, they also found that the happier you are, the more _ã–in the moment enjoyment_㝠you_ã_ll get from your freely-chosen or connection-building activities.

Howell_ã_s research is in an area called self-determination theory and provides important new findings that will improve our understanding of what makes us happy and when. Self-determination theory (SDT) proposes that we have 3 fundamental needs; for autonomy (feeling self-directed or _ãÄthe authors of our own lives_ã_), competence (needing challenges that make us feel capable) and relatedness (feeling connected and close to others). (See our previous PPND articles on the influence of self-determination on sex, parenting, and motivation).

Numerous studies have shown that people whose needs are satisfied overall, feel happier. What Howell and his colleagues have shown is that not only does this happen over the longer term, but that daily and even hourly variations in how these needs are being met influence our daily and hourly happiness. (That_ã_s happiness as measured by experienced enjoyment minus experienced stress). In other words, the office meeting where your boss acknowledges your support and contribution to the team may satisfy your relatedness need and boost your well-being for that hour. It will also probably add to your overall enjoyment of the day.

To read more from Positive Psychology News Daily about finding real, long-term happiness – click here