The pursuit of happiness is a tricky one. Just as you feel like you've grasped gratification or clutched contentment, the warmth fades and that short-lived ecstasy is gone. The issue with this momentary high is that it leaves us wanting more—more promotions, more possessions, and more of anything that feels good.
This fleeting feeling was at the center of a study by Harvard Business School, wherein researchers were curious to know what sets apart successful people and those who are successful and happy. Their findings reveal a lot about the way we set goals—and how to alter our habits to cultivate real, long-lasting happiness.
Researchers interviewed and assessed professionals at the top of their field and found that those who enjoyed sustained satisfaction from their life and career all had one thing in common: They pursued enduring accomplishments.
"Unlike run-of-the-mill accomplishments that produce fleeting happiness, the pleasure from enduring accomplishments lasts long after that initial buzz," Travis Bradberry, author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0 and president of TalentSmart, wrote in an article for Huffington Post. "Enduring accomplishments are so critical that they separate those who are successful and happy from those who are always left wanting more."
Harvard's study also found that people who enjoy happiness and success structure their activities around four major needs: happiness, achievement, significance, and legacy. In other words, they pursue goals that produce satisfaction, have tangible results, make a positive impact on others, and allow them to pass their knowledge onto others.
The takeaway: Value activities that will give you a long-lasting sense of achievement, like mentoring, or being part of a community group. In the long run, it'll make you far happier than a momentary promotion or purchase.
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