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Dreams and goals are important because they give us a metric against which to measure progress; you don’t care if you’re getting closer to Rome unless you are trying to get to Rome. But what brings us true happiness is progress, not meeting a goal. Progress consistently beats accomplishment when it comes to well-being. Humans are wired, it seems, for improvement. The end state is fairly subjective and in some cases even arbitrary (for example, I will save $10,000). But progress is clear and unambiguous (I have more in my savings account this week than last week).
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A few days after she became the first female skater to land a quadruple jump at the Beijing Olympics, 15-year-old Kamila Valieva fell in her final program, costing her the individual Olympic gold. She wept as she stepped off the ice. Instead of comforting her, her coach berated her.
A little voice in your head always tells you that your very special dream, whether it’s Olympic gold or winning the presidency, will bring you bliss, so a lot of misery in pursuit of it is worthwhile. But that isn’t true, and the more emphasis you put on the end state, the more emotional ...
Here’s an existential riddle: What’s usually first prize in a pie-eating contest? Answer: More pie. So I hope you like pie.
The point of a good goal is to improve your quality of life by changing your day-to-day for the better, not to limp across the finish line and...
“Happiness is the ultimate goal. It is the goal of all other goals.”
Researchers have found that frequent, small achievements tend to start a cycle of success and happiness much more than infrequent, big ones. Make sure you can break your long-term goals into smaller chunks—even into goals for individual days, if possible. You can have a victory each day a...
Just as a wildly hypothetical example, say that, as a young child, someone told you that you could win a gold medal in figure skating and your life would be wonderful forever. But the journey is onerous, and a few years down the line, you realize that you don’t want the life of a professional ska...
To pursue one big goal in the hope of attaining happiness is, ironically, to set yourself up for unhappiness. Buddhists see such goals as just another kind of worldly attachment that creates a cycle of craving and clinging. This principle is at the heart of Buddhism’s first noble...
This kind of pressure might seem inconceivable to us; after all, we probably aren’t Olympic athletes. But have you ever anchored your happiness in some way to a far-off goal that you could attain only at significant personal cost, that you thought would deliver to you the satisfaction you...
Maybe your goals don’t pass this 3-question test. Maybe training to climb Mount Everest would be a journey that brings you no joy, or actually working as a lawyer after struggling through law school doesn’t appeal to you. If that is the case, you must then ask yourself 1 more que...
Anti-anticipation potentially explains a lot of paradoxical behavior, such as why New Year’s resolutions usually fail in the long run, even after initial success. The imagined sustained bliss after, say, saving more money is a mirage; your prize for success is saving money, forever. The p...
Worse than feeling nothing, you might subject yourself to what the self-improvement writer Stephanie Rose Zoccatelli calls the “post-achievement hangover”, a feeling of restlessness and mild depression in the days after a major milestone, such as graduating from college or gettin...
“An idea is something that won’t work unless you do.” - Thomas A. Edison
Achieving a goal and achieving happiness are two entirely different things. There are 3 questions that can maybe test our goals for their happiness potential. So, do you like pie?
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