Happiness is a big topic of interest to researchers these days. People - Americans in particular - what to know what makes us happy and what can we do to increase our happiness? The ISQOLS listserve is an electronic bulletin board established to help quality-of-life (QOL) researchers post messages and announcements that may be of interest to QOL researchers. This recent posting my Michael Frisch, PhD at Baylor University is interesting.
Dr. Frisch reports on a new study that was released: Life Goals Matter to Happiness: A Revision of Set-Point Theory Bruce Headey; Social Indicators Research, April , 2008, vol. 86(2), pp213-231. He discussed how the study indicates that having life goals is a critical component of our happiness - in particular, having non zero-sum (i.e., altruistic) goals makes a difference. Frisch writes:
"Over a 15-20 year period, conscious life goals matter both to overall happiness and to accomplishing goals. It is not all genetic. Having life goals can change your happiness set-point and your overall happiness at any point in your life. The Set-Point theory of happiness needs to be revised to account for the effects of life goals on happiness and important changes in happiness...Non-zero sum goals, which include commitment to family, friends and social and political involvement, promote life satisfaction.
Zero sum goals, including commitment to career success and material gains, appear detrimental to life satisfaction. One speculation is that gains in zero sum domains are not satisfying because of the competition involved; all you have got to look forward to after one set of goals is achieved is renewed competition. By contrast, an improving family life or satisfying social activities may be found
intrinsically satisfying. Further, one is likely to receive positive feedback from family members and other people closely affected.
What makes for a happy person? Part of the answer seems to be a desire to pursue non-zero sum family related and altruistic goals."
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