Monday, February 11, 2008

Achievers and Happiness

From a Yahoo Finance column (Feb 6th) from Laura Rowley, "Wanna Be Rich? Be (Moderately) Happy":

"Numerous studies have found that happy people enjoy an advantage over malcontents: Cheerful people earn more, enjoy better health, have closer relationships, and live longer, among other benefits. But in this case, researchers wanted to explore how happy you need to be to get those perks. Do the 10s enjoy the highest well-being in all areas of life?

The answer is no -- and there may actually be a downside to scoring at the top of the scale. In a survey of more than 100,000 people in 96 countries, for example, the 8s on the 1-to-10 scale perform best in the realm of achievement.

Diener surmises that the 8s benefit from the creativity and energy of happiness, which help them stay committed in the pursuit of long-term goals and overcome obstacles along the way. But the 8s also maintain a touch of worry, stress, or internal dissatisfaction that motivates them to strive for more."

Later in the article, they go on to say that that people who are 10s in happiness have stronger relationships, are better-liked, and have high self-confidence, even though their 8 counterparts have higher GPAs and have more tangible "successes" in the traditional sense (promotions, salary, positions of responsibility, etc.). The 10s might not have all the trappings of a moderately happy 8, but they have more of the "important intangibles" in life.

It also says that 10s often project their happiness onto their relationships; even though they may have unhappy moments, they tend to view them overall through rose-colored glasses:

"The 10s tend to idealize their partners and look for the best in them, leading to more enduring and upbeat relationships. Alternately, the lack of satisfaction that drives the 8s to want more in their work lives might also prompt them to be more critical of their partners, to more readily see their faults -- and to be more willing to look around for something better."

I'd like to think I'm a 10 (because overachievers always want to be a 10 in everything), but I'm guessing that I'm probably more of an 8 or a 9. I've done a lot of reading on Happiness and how to be a 10 more often, but I feel my overachiever self and my happy self fighting it out behind the scenes. This off-stage dual between achievement and happiness poses an interesting question:
  • Can overachievers be a 10 in happiness or are we confined to an 8 because of our natural tendency to always strive for more?
What do you think? Please add your thoughts in the comments section!

1 comment:

Hedwig said...

I do not consider myself to be an overachiever, though I was almost lured into it by attending an Ivy League school. I'm happy to say I resisted the inclination and consider my journey to be one toward the 10 on the happiness scale, rather than on any sort of achievement scale. I know it is in with reach, because sometimes, I'm already there.