The Pursuit of Happiness: Can It Make You Happy?
Posted: 5 Jan 2012 Last revised: 30 Oct 2018
Date Written: October 29, 2018
Prior research examining happiness has concluded that its explicit pursuit is futile. The present work challenges this conclusion by demonstrating that a simple intervention that involves prompting individuals to engage in happiness-directed behavior can increase happiness levels. Specifically, in four experiments, including a large scale field study involving management-level employees from six different U.S. Fortune 500 companies, we validate a novel happiness intervention that can be effective for increasing individual’s happiness by promoting behavioral change. We also find that when behavioral change is inhibited, behavior-focused happiness interventions can be counterproductive, consistent with prior findings. In addition to challenging the view that the self-directed pursuit of happiness is futile, we underscore the importance of this inquiry for both individuals and organizations by demonstrating that behavior-focused happiness interventions can be cost effective, time-efficient, and have meaningful consequences for actual happiness and behavior.
Keywords: happiness, intervention, behavior, behavioral change
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