New Science Identifies Three Pathways To Happiness — Mattering, Autonomy, And Patience

New Science Identifies Three Pathways To Happiness — Mattering, Autonomy, And Patience

via Forbes by Mark Travers

We spend much of our lives, consciously and unconsciously, searching for things that make us happy.

What actually works? That depends, but psychologists and happiness researchers have identified a few common elements that tend to be found in happy people. Here are three recent findings from the field of happiness research that may help guide you to a brighter, happier future.

Pathway #1: Upgrade your “sense of mattering”

Happiness comes in two forms. There is in-the-moment happiness, which is derived from things that give us immediate gratification — for example, eating a chocolate bar or taking a hot shower on a cold day. There’s also the related idea of life meaning, fulfillment, or reflective happiness. We experience this type of happiness when we reach a milestone or create something we are proud of. It may not be as state-altering as in-the-moment happiness, but its effects can be just as potent, especially in the long run.

While both types of happiness are important, research suggests that life meaning becomes more important to us over time. Fortunately, a recent paper published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology offers guidance on how to improve it.

“Meaning is the web of connections, understandings, and interpretations that help us comprehend our experience and formulate plans directing our energies to the achievement of our desired future,” state the researchers, led by Vlad Costin of the University of Sussex. “Meaning provides us with the sense that our lives matter, that they make sense, and that they are more than the sum of our seconds, days, and years.”

From this definition, the psychologists extracted three core themes: coherence, purpose, and mattering. They are defined below.

  1. Coherence refers to the process of making sense of the world and one’s experiences in it. Feeling a “sense of order” and “comprehensibility” are key facets of life coherence.
  2. Purposedescribes the feeling of having a life goal, or multiple life goals, and being able to work toward those goals. It is understood as a future-oriented motivational state — that is, having a vision for how one’s life should be.
  3. Matteringrefers to the belief that one’s actions are making a difference in the world and that one’s life is significant and worth living.

The researchers tested which of these three factors might be most predictive of life meaning. Using a sample of 126 British adults, they found that mattering was most strongly associated with life meaning. Purpose was also predictive of life meaning but to a lesser extent. Coherence, on the other hand, appeared to be more of a symptom of life meaning than a cause.

The next question, of course, is how one goes about improving one’s sense of mattering. While there’s no easy answer, a good place to start is by thinking about the questions that define the concept of mattering. They are: “my life is inherently valuable,” “even a thousand years from now, it would still matter whether I existed or not,” “whether my life ever existed matters even in the grand scheme of the universe,” and “I am certain that my life is of importance.”

Other research suggests that mattering is especially important in our professional lives. Employees who scored higher on the agree-disagree scale below, for instance, expressed higher job satisfaction and engagement.

  1. My work contributes to my organization’s success.
  2. The quality of my work makes a real impact on my organization.
  3. My work influences my organization’s functioning.
  4. My organization praises my work publicly.
  5. My co-workers praise my work.
  6. I am well known for the quality of my work in my organization.
  7. My work has made me popular at my work place.

“When employees feel like they matter to their organization, they are more satisfied with their jobs and life, more likely to occupy leadership positions, more likely to be rewarded and promoted, and less likely to quit,” state the authors of this research, led by Andrew Reece of the company, BetterUp, and David Yaden of the University of Pennsylvania. “These findings lend weight to the basic value of mattering in organizational contexts.”

… keep reading the full & original article HERE