Ask the Doc: Realistic goals help us feel happy

Prof Eddie Murphy

Reporter:

Prof Eddie Murphy

Email:

newsroom@longfordleader.ie

File Photo

File Photo

Having goals directs us to a more positive future. Feeling good about the future helps create happiness.

Goals help us and motivate us. These need to be stretch goals, challenging enough to excite and engage us, but also achievable. If goals are unachievable this brings unnecessary stress. 

Choosing ambitious stretch goals gives our lives direction and brings a sense of accomplishment when we achieve them. 

Goals Are Good For Us
Goals can turn our values and dreams into reality. Happiness, contentment and inner peace do not just happen - they come from thinking, planning and doing things that are important to us.

Scientific research shows that setting and working towards goals contributes to happiness.

How goals make us happy
Being a basis of passion, engagement or pleasure. Giving us a sense of meaning and purpose.

Bringing a sense of accomplishment when we achieve what we set out to – I am thinking of how I have taught my boys to ride a bike and swim - this also builds our confidence and belief in what we can do in the future.

Goals help focus our attention. Working towards goals appears to be as important for our well-being as achieving the end results. Goals are most successful when they are something we really want and when we set them for ourselves - rather than what someone else wants us to do.

What are your goals ? What would motivate you this summer?

Making Good Goals
A long-term goal might be changing your job, graduating, building an extension. A short-term goal might be for the coming weeks or months. A day-to-day goal might be just to cook something different or contact an old friend.

Small goals may seem not important. But having personal projects that matter to us, and are manageable, boosts well-being, especially when supported by others around us.

It is even better if we can link our smaller goals back to our bigger aims and priorities in life.
Good goal-setting can be learned. I believe perseverance is a key life skill.

The Positive Role Of Optimism
Would you think you are optimistic or pessimistic? Science shows that people who are optimistic tend to be happier, healthier and cope better in tough times, in effect are more resilient.

We may have a natural tendency to be one or the other, but there are things we can do to take a more optimistic outlook, without losing touch with reality.

Optimism boosts persistence
Take the optimistic approach.

Choose positive goals, rather than goals to avoid things. When problems arise look for ways to resolve them, rather than ignoring issues. Avoid dwelling on the negative - learn to accept difficult things that we can't change then re-adjust goals.
In difficult situations, optimists appear to experience less distress and higher well-being.

Nevertheless it is important that we keep our feet on the ground. An overly optimistic outlook, ignoring negative facts can be unhelpful.

Having unrealistically high expectations can lead to disappointment, a sense of failure and a pessimistic view of the future.
Take a realistic but hopeful view of the outcomes. Consider some short, medium and long term goals that you can work towards. It is a good investment for your happiness.

Also read: Roving Leader - Durkin's Longford, A family-run operation going strong for three generations