Underlying the satisfaction, said Deci, is that those who pursued the intrinsic goals had more well-being, because they met their basic needs for autonomy, competence and relating to others. "By attaining the American Dream goals, on the other hand, you are actually feeling less satisfied in the need for autonomy and feeling effective in the world, and that leads to more ill-being," he said.
The findings are no surprise to Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside, who is the author of The How of Happiness.
The results, she said, "support and extend previous work showing that it is the pursuit [and attainment, the Rochester researchers find] of intrinsic goals that is associated with well-being." Her research has uncovered similar findings.
Deci's advice for this year's crop of college graduates? "You need to keep those American Dream goals in balance with these other deeper and more important human goals such as meaningful relationships, personal growth and community contributions."
To find out how happy you are, visit the University of California, Riverside.
SOURCES: Edward Deci, Ph.D., professor, psychology, and the Gowen Professor in the Social Sciences, University of Rochester, N.Y., and author, Why We Do What We Do; Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., professor, psychology, and associate editor, The Journal of Positive Psychology, and author, The How of Happiness; June 2009, The Journal of Research in Personality
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