To Spend a Happy Life: You need goals to be happy?
Everyone has big dreams: traveling the world by bike, climbing the highest mountain, scuba diving in Australia, a job with responsibilities… It’s only when you’ve checked your wildest fantasies off your bucket list that you’re successful and happy, right?
Until you actually did it. That intense happiness usually turns out to be no more than a small hurray moment. With endless beautiful memories, yes, but once the successes are behind you, you quickly pick up the thread of your life. Is it really wise to dream and set big goals first?
The happiness professor
If we are to believe in Harvard’s happiness professor Tal Ben-Shahar, all those achievements certainly don’t make us happy. Man is hopeless at predicting what makes him happy. A coveted job at the best advertising agency in the country, a promotion that you stole from your colleagues, … But in reality that is quite disappointing.
While you should be happy, you often feel a lot less good afterward, because you feel that your best years are already behind you. Will your goals only make you unhappy? No, because the road to the finish gives you tons of energy and makes you happy. That is why you often fall into a black hole after your retirement. Then you have usually achieved all your goals and enjoyment soon feels like a pastime.
Happiness is in the little things
In short: achieving big goals doesn’t necessarily make you happy. Striving for a goal and actually achieving something does. Contradictory, isn’t it? So it is actually a matter of not aiming for one big goal, but aiming your arrows at all kinds of small sub-goals. That way they never run out.
A promotion or a career switch can be such a sub-goal but also spending more time with friends and family. Or how about taking a bakery course, running a half marathon, or saving for a new racing bike? Do what you enjoy most because that’s where your happiness lies.