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Monday, May 28, 2012

Happier: Post #6- Setting Goals

Setting Goals: “Happiness grows less from the passive experience of desirable circumstances than from involvement in valued activities and progress toward one’s goals” (David Meyers and Ed Diener). Psychologist Peter Brickman found that lottery winners were back to their natural happiness set point within a month. Conversely, paraplegics were back to their happiness set point within a year of their accidents.  Further psychologist David Watson tells us that goals are the means not just the ends to happiness, that happiness involves a journey or striving toward attaining a goal. No striving, no happiness! Ken Sheldon summarized goals this way: We’re better off pursuing goals of growth, connection and contribution than money, beauty or power. We also need to pursue goals that are important to us and not just something thrust on us by another. Sheldon calls meaningful, deeply personal pursuits “self-concordant goals” (that are intrinsic, not extrinsic). Interestingly, even the pursuit of money, if connected with personal growth, connection, or philanthropy, can well be a self-concordant goal.  Pursued for its own sake, money is extrinsic, meaningless, and ultimately unsatisfying and not happiness producing. The author suggests replacing the “have-tos” with “want-tos,” thus moving from extrinsic to intrinsic goals. Finally, professor and philosopher Joseph Campbell’s words still ring true: “…follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”

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