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I’ve mentioned this on and off on this blog, but it’s worth repeating:
The research is clear. When you set a goal to level up, you level up, but leveling up does not make you happier. When you level up you just get a new set of problems:
Bauer, J. J., & McAdams, D. P. (2010). Eudaimonic growth: Narrative growth goals predict increases in ego development and subjective well-being 3 years later. Developmental Psychology, 46(4), 761.
Granted those problems are probably preferable. (And I will claim without evidence that leveling up is better. Everything is better. Much better. Legitimately better.) But, again, you’re probably not happier. (I’m not happier. Honestly, I’m genuinely, truly, painfully, aversively miserable most of the time. 🙂 But it doesn’t cut to the bone, to the soul; there is spaciousness, perspective, even as I feel everything more intensely. Getting over here was well worth the effort, for me. I’m forever grateful. Grace. And hundreds of hours of study, hard work, and sitting staring at the wall.) Only at the the very highest levels, not in between, is there some evidence of more happiness. I’m not sure if there’s even good evidence; I haven’t really looked into it.
And I’m not entirely sure how stuff like Focusing, Internal Family Systems Therapy, Coherence Therapy, etc., interact with suffering, pain, and happiness. (For me, at least, less, less, more.)
Friend goals do make you happier, though. The research is clear on that.