For decades, researchers have been trying to define happiness and determine what actually causes it or gets in the way. Ultimately, most of the conclusions that have been drawn are related to the fact that happiness comes from many different sources, and not everyone has the same experience. For example, not all lottery winners are happy. Not all disabled people are unhappy. These are things that many assume would control your ability to be happy—not so!
One of the things that has been found to be most important when it comes to happiness is having goals. In many instances, simply having goals can be a source of happiness—provided that the goals are reasonable and can be achieved.
When people experience serious problems in life, such as major illness, death of a loved one, financial ruin or other disastrous events, they must learn to cope in some way, and to redefine their own sense of happiness. While this often seems impossible at first (consider a patient losing a leg or something drastic like that), there are plenty of rewards for your goals that can help to rebuild happiness.
For most, the rewards that come from pursuit of a goal, rather than pursuit of money in exchange for work, results in greater levels of happiness being reported. Our goals, if they are to help us feel happy, should be congruent with the philosophies of Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose.
When we are able to set goals for ourselves as individuals, ones that allow us to master new skills and ideas, and help us to feel productive and part of the world at large, this combination can lead to greater happiness. It is creating goals that meet these criteria that is the challenging part.
When developing goals, it is important to consider whether or not they meet these criteria. It is easy to make mistakes when you start to think about what you want. Confusion comes from the indecision and disorganized goal planning.
Here are a few tips that can help you avoid these mistakes.
1. Take time to reflect on what is most important to you. The answer to this question will not be the same for everyone, so copying your friend’s goals will not help. Think of three things that are important about each thing you determine to be important. This may sound confusing, but it helps you to develop an outline, of sorts, that can lead you to happiness.
2. Once you have determined what it is that you want to have as a goal, break that goal down into several small steps that can be accomplished over time. If there is something that can be done each day to get you closer to your goal, that is ideal. Small steps combine to make big results, when you stick with your goals.
3. Make a list of three reasons why you should begin to work toward your goals. Starting today, and not putting your progress off until tomorrow is important.
Put the above information in writing, once you figure it out for yourself. When you have something that you can see and hold in your hands, it becomes real and will help you make progress toward your goals of happiness. You will begin to establish your autonomy, learn mastery and start to find your purpose—all important steps toward increasing your happiness.
Each day, take some time to reflect on your progress toward happiness, and appreciating the things that make you happy. You will slowly but surely gain perspective, and get closer to your goals. Don’t ever let your quest for money or material goods cloud your goals of being happy. Harvest your happiness each day, and you will reap many benefits!