April, 2008 Archive

Happiness: A matter of age!

April 30th, 2008 by Christiane

According to my teenage sons ‘it’s not cool to be old’- and of course, to them anyone over thirty looks suspiciously old.

What little do they know! They don’t know for example that according to a recently published study (Yang Yang, University of Chicago, 2008) older people are happier than younger people. This is because older people have learned to lower their expectations. They are more likely to be content with whatever they have achieved in life. The well-known psychologist Erik Erikson described already more than 50 years ago the main task of late adulthood as “coming to terms with one’s life”, and those who succeed will gain the feeling of integrity, which he described as feeling whole and complete.

Life satisfaction seems to be a factor of one’s perception: as lower the expectation, as higher the happiness. People over 65 don’t expect life to be perfect. They have learned to accept certain aches and pains as part of life, and in general, they develop a more positive attitude.

In another study, published about ten years ago, people over 65 reported more positive emotions and less negative emotions than their younger counterparts. Also this study came to the conclusion that the older you are the happier and more satisfied you should feel. (D. Mroczek & Ch. Kolarz, Fordham University, 1998).

It seems that we all should look forward to our golden years – and there is another good reason for it: Researchers at Yale University found out that people with a positive attitude toward aging live in average 7.5 years longer than those with negative stereotypes (Levy et. al., Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 83, No.2)

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Web based „Committment Contract“ for your personal goals

April 16th, 2008 by Christiane

Struggling with weight loss, exercising more, eating healthier? Are you still holding on to your New Year’s resolutions, but just barely? Wait, before you give up. Signing up at stickK.com maybe the solution you have been looking for.

The website offers support for those of us with willpower issues when it comes to achieving our personal goals:

stickK is a web-based company that helps you achieve your personal goals through “Commitment Contracts.” You create a contract obliging you to achieve a specific goal within a specific time-frame. By doing so, you put your reputation at stake. You may also choose to wager money to give yourself added incentive to succeed. If you do succeed, you get your money back. If you fail, the money is forfeited to charity, or to one of several causes, or to a person of your choosing.( http://www.stickk.com/faq.php)

The contracts follow the principle of setting SMART goals (read about SMART goals: http://www.coach4u.net/blog/smart-goals.html)

To increase the incentive to reach your goal by putting up money, you can choose an Anti-Charity where your money would go to if you fail. An Anti-Charity is any organization/person whose goals you strongly oppose. Let’s say, if you feel strongly for Hillary, pledge your money for Obama or McCain, whoever is your least favorite candidate, and vice versa.

If you decide to put money at stake, your credit card will be charged for the full amount when you create the contract. The site also encourages its users to name a referee who acts as overseer and the site also offers the possibility to designate supporters.

Does it work and really increase your chances of achieving your goals? The website creators, two Yale professors and a student, of course say yes:

The Commitment Contract concept is grounded on two well-known principles of behavioral economics: (1) people don’t always do what they claim they want to do, and (2) incentives get people to do things.(http://www.stickk.com)

A few months ago, I wrote on this blog about a British research study about the success rate for New Year’s resolutions. (http://www.coach4u.net/blog/only-12-of-new-years-resolutions-successful.html). One result of the study has been that particularly women increase their chances of achieving goals by telling others about them. So, yes, stickK.com could be the solution for some people.

And if a public commitment contract, money at stake, referee and support network still are not enough, then – I believe – it would be really time for hiring a professional life & career coach like me; don’t you think?

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