Do You Want to Improve Your Ability to Predict What Will Make You Happy?

How good are you at predicting what will make you happy?

This is an important question, especially if you are considering retirement or other important decisions you need to make.

Decision making is a process. When you are faced with making a decision, one of the things you are likely to think about is how happy each choice will make you. Unfortunately, we do not do a very good job predicting what will make us happy. This can present a dilemma.

Research from an issue of  the American Association for the Advancement of Science journal reports findings from two studies. These studies support earlier findings by psychologist Dan Gilbert (Harvard University) that people have trouble accurately predicting what will make them happy. You may think you can do this well. Unfortunately the studies indicate otherwise.

The latest studies take Gilbert's work which asked the question "What will make you happy?" a step further by asking the question: "What or who will make you happy?" The results from these more recent studies found that asking people in your own social network who have experienced a similar situation how they reacted will give you a more accurate answer about how you will feel than how you think you will feel.

Why is this?

When you try to predict how happy a decision will make you, you typically imagine how the event or situation will be. Unfortunately, your imagination is often inaccurate. However, when you ask someone else how they reacted, you avoid imagining the event inaccuratelyThe studies also found that you are not likely to believe this is true. So, more than likely you won't or don't ask someone else in the first place.

Knowing this, what do you think you will do the next time you are trying to determine how happy you will be with a particular choice you are making?

A decision making tip: Ask others you trust who have done what you are considering doing how their choice made them feel. Then ask yourself how you think your choice will make you feel. Compare your answers and remember to make sure your final choice is a good match with your values and strengths.

I would love to hear about what helps you make choices that are right for you and what you plan to do the next time you have to make an important decision.

Until next time,


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