What Makes Us Happy Part 5: Setting and Achieving Goals


For the last topic in this mini-series about how to bring more happiness into your life, we will look at goals. We already touched upon this topic slightly in the article about activities when we discussed the joy of productivity. However, there is a lot more to goals than just being productive. Goals also give us a direction in life. They give us a sense of progress. They help us grow ourselves. So let’s look at creating awesome goals to create a happy life.

The Happiness of Goals

Just like it was described in our article about finding happiness in activities, the pleasure of ticking off goals is a biological matter connected to our hormones – to dopamine. Dopamine gets released in the brain in connection with reward-motivated behavior. That means, if you’ve set yourself the goal to make your bed, and you then make your bed, dopamine gets released. Or if you post a picture on Instagram and you receive lots of likes, your brain also releases dopamine.

For this reason, having goals and reaching them feels absolutely amazing. However, there are other ways goals can make you happier:

  1. Having something to work towards gives you a sense of purpose and provides your life with some structure. So if your life feels chaotic and overwhelming, setting yourself small goals can make everything a lot more manageable.
  2. Making personal progress as you make your way towards your goals also feels pleasurable. Personal growth is an essential part of meaningful goals. Even just the goal of making your bed everyday will make you a more disciplined person. You might not notice it in the beginning, but over time you can see how your personality is changing too.
  3. Setting goals for yourself means actively shaping your own future. You don’t just passively let the future happen to you, but you plan ahead and work on yourself, your achievements and your environment. This will make you feel more in control of your life.

As you can see, setting goals – both big and small – can increase your sense of happiness in multiple ways. It doesn’t matter where you start. Find something that motivates you or makes you feel excited, and then set yourself some SMART goals to work towards.

Smart Goals

Making Happiness Your Goal

Happiness is a goal that’s achievable for anyone. Even if your environment is bad, you’re suffering from an illness, or you lack opportunities, you can still find ways to live a happy life. Happiness is a mindset. So one goal you might set yourself is to build a mindset of happiness.

Being happy is not a skill you were born with. Babies have to actively learn to smile and to laugh. That’s the reason why many buy new stuff all the time in their search for happiness. They haven’t been taught how to produce happiness themselves.

Happiness is a matter of mindfulness, of focusing your attention on the right things. In order to bring more happiness to your life – both on the good days and on the bad ones:

  • be grateful for what you have and express your gratitude
  • focus on the positive side of shitty situations – what can you learn or be grateful for?
  • include small goals and small wins in your daily life
  • have a person, a playlist, a book at hand that can cheer you up when needed
  • write down your thoughts and feelings, so you don’t have to carry them around but can let them out on paper
  • find things to look forward to – meeting friends or experiencing something nice
  • be mindful of the details. Although the big things might take a lot of our attention, the small things matter just as much – if not more
  • look at the bigger picture – life always has ups and downs. If you’re in a down, know that it doesn’t last: betters times are ahead

If you want to dive further into the topic of happiness, check out our blog post about 5 Sources of Happiness. Otherwise, we wish you a happy new year, pirates! Make 2022 awesome and full of joy!

Enjoyed reading this article? Ever invited a pirate for a coffee? Now’s your chance.

Tagged as goal setting, goals, happiness, mindset

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