Ideals versus Goals: How to be Happy

Humans are cognitive creatures, we feel happy when we are growing and improving;  and most happy when is no dissonance between what we aspire to be and where we are at now.

There is a difference between how successful and how unsuccessful think – it’s their attitude towards their ideals and goals. Successful people strive towards positive growth, set clear and attainable goals and focus on the journey that they have progressed, not on abstract ideals that can never be attained. Unsuccessful people are always stressing about the gap between where they are at and their ideals, they are never completely happy, and they don’t ever feel gratitude.

Happy people are successful people

The happiest people are the ones who are gratified for what they have already accomplished, but stay motivated to grow continuously and progressively to achieve their goals. They set realistic goals and take actionable, timely steps to achieve them. They do not compare themselves against their ideals (i.e. the gap); but compare themselves against their starting point (i.e. the gain).

The gap is a moving target, it is constantly changing as we refine our understanding of what’s ideal for ourselves. For example, we always imagine an ideal amount of annual income or lifestyle, which might change as we approach our destination – creating an unending pursuit. Whenever we feel that we have not made progress against that ideal, or when we measure the time and effort spent in a futile attempt to get there, we never feel satisfied with our accomplishments.

But the gain is different. By looking back and seeing how far we have progressed from our initial starting point, we will experience a sense of progress and achievement. We will see concrete growth in ourselves, and we will be motivated to take actionable steps to move onto the next stage of growth.

Happy people are confident people

Happiness allows you to work more effectively, produce better results, which allow you to set bigger dreams and goals in the future. Happiness allows you to feel gratitude, which is a key recipe for other forms of success – including being healthier, more optimistic, deepening your friendships and even improving your sleep!

It’s the direction that’s important, not the destination


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