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What Does Not Make People Happy?

 

Explanations > Emotions > Happiness > What Does Not Make People Happy?

Extrinsic goals | Possession | Status | So what

 

What does not make people happy? In fact it turns out that quite a few things.

Extrinsic goals

Generally, people who seek extrinsic goals, such as financial success, are not made happy by this, and certainly not in comparison with those who seek to achieve tacit, internal goals.

Possession

We think that when we have bought that wonderful sound system or car then we will be happy. And indeed we are, but not for long. In fact we may the start fearing our possessions being stolen or worry that others may have better ones again.

Status

Status is important to most people. For example, many of us seek promotion at work, and indeed work very hard to get it. Yet when we become a manager, we are not that happy (how many stressed-out managers do you know?). The work that seemed easy turns out to be hard. We are less in control than we thought we would be.

Everything

In fact even having everything does not make people happy. First, 'things' do make you happy -- you do. Also whatever makes you happy now does not necessarily continue to make you just as happy in the future. We find problems with our purchases, get bored with wonderful songs and the shine goes off even the greatest relationships, all as adaptation sets in.

So what?

Do not pursue that which will not really make you happy. And do not put too much effort into that which will make you happy only for a short while. The best investment is in things that will bring longer term increases in overall happiness.

See also

What makes people happy?

 

Kasser, T., & Ryan, R. M. (1993). A dark side of the American dream: Correlates of financial success as a central life aspiration. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65, 410-422.

Kasser, T., & Ryan, R. M. (1996). Further examining the American dream: Differential correlates of intrinsic and extrinsic goals. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 22, 280-287.

 

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