Science now says that if you set some benchmarks in your pursuit of great feelings, you can make them last longer.
Ok, so you’ve got goals. Things like getting to the gym everyday, eating more kale, staying away from fries, and progressing up a career ladder that keeps on growing. But what about your feelings of happiness?
First, let’s provide some context. It’s already been shown that if you set small, attainable goals when tackling things like exercise or losing weight, you’ll feel more accomplished and satisfied with your progress. The easier it is to quantify your progress, the better.
Want to be able to run a marathon? If you can’t get around the block without stopping, it can feel impossible. You need to start with small, specific goals, (like, maybe running two blocks).
When it comes to happiness though, the more general your vision, the better.
Researchers from the University of Minnesota and Texas A&M University decided to delve into the idea, from a shopping standpoint. They conducted a study that had participants answer questions about purchases they’d made in the last month. Some people had bought items with the goal of increasing their happiness by attaining specific feelings like relaxation. Others were simply aiming to have more fun, and to increase the overall good vibes in their life, with the things they’d bought.
If you can push aside the idea that money can’t buy happiness, what was discovered could be beneficial.
Researchers found that participants who had bought things for an overall feeling of happiness had that feeling last longer than the group that bought things for a specific purpose. The differences were most pronounced after about 6 weeks.
“Although more studies are needed to confirm our findings, these initial results show that we can make small changes in our thinking patterns to help us experience more joy,” said Rohini Ahluwalia, a professor of marketing at the University of Minnesota and author of the study.
Can’t buy me love? Now that’s a different matter altogether.