【英文阅读】心灵鸡汤The Progress Principlechatnet(2016/9/9 15:31:17)
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The pleasure of getting what you want is often fleeting. You dream about getting a promotion, being accepted into a prestigious school, or finishing a big project. You work every waking hour, perhaps imagining how happy you'd be if you could just achieve that goal. Then you succeed, and if you're lucky you get an hour, maybe a day, of euphoria, particularly if your success was unexpected and there was a moment in which it was revealed (…the envelope, please). More typically, however, you don't get any euphoria. When success seems increasingly probable and some final event confirms what you already had begun to expect, the feeling is more one of relief—the pleasure of closure and release. In such circumstances, my first thought is seldom "Hooray! Fantastic!"; it is "Okay, what do I have to do now?"
In other words, when it comes to goal pursuit, it really is the journey that counts, not the destination. Set for yourself any goal you want. Most of the pleasure will be had along the way, with every step that takes you closer. The final moment of success is often no more thrilling than the relief of taking off a heavy backpack at the end of a long hike. If you went on the hike only to feel that pleasure, you are a fool. Yet people sometimes do just this. They work hard at a task and expect some special euphoria at the end. But when they achieve success and find only moderate and short-lived pleasure, they ask (as the singer Peggy Lee once did): Is that all there is? They devalue their accomplishments as a striving after wind.
We can call this "the progress principle": Pleasure comes more from making progress toward goals than from achieving them. Shakespeare captured it perfectly: "Things won are done; joy's soul lies in the doing."1
You heard the man: Happiness lies in the journey, not the destination. That is why, according to Haidt, people who have won the lottery and people who have recently been paralyzed and placed in a wheelchair return to their original (pre-incident) levels of happiness within a year.2 Money can buy happiness, but usually only temporarily. Pleasure comes in rising to wealth, not in idly retaining it — eventually the shiny gadgets and new cars lose their luster. The pleasure fades.
Luckily, there are steps we can take to more permanently increase our happiness:
1. Reduce noise. "Research shows that people who must adapt to new and chronic sources of noise (such as when a new highway is built) never fully adapt, and even studies that find some adaptation still find evidence of impairment on cognitive tasks."
2. Improve your commute. "Even after years of commuting, those whose commutes are traffic-filled still arrive at work with higher levels of stress hormones."
3. Take control. "In another famous study, Ellen Langer and Judith Rodin gave benefits to residents on two floors of a nursing home—for example, plants in their rooms, and a movie screening one night a week. But on one floor, these benefits came with a sense of control: The residents were allowed to choose which plants they wanted, and they were responsible for watering them. They were allowed to choose as a group which night would be movie night. On the other floor, the same benefits were simply doled out…This small manipulation had big effects: On the floor with increased control, residents were happier, more active, and more alert."
4. Minimize self-consciousness. "Many adjust their posture or their wardrobe in an attempt to hide what they see as personal deficiency. Being freed from such a daily burden may lead to a lasting increase in self-confidence and well-being."
5. Build meaningful relationships. "Conflicts in relationships—having an annoying office mate or roommate, or having chronic conflict with your spouse—is one of the surest ways to reduce your happiness. You never adapt to interpersonal conflict; it damages every day, even days when you don't see the other person but ruminate about the conflict nonetheless."3
Of course, some of these are easier said than done. Some personal deficiencies cannot be overcome by simply hitting the gym a couple days a week or eating healthier. Some people cannot avoid a long commute to work. But these factors are only a part of the equation.
Remember when you were a child and became so immersed in the most seemingly meaningless tasks? Perhaps you were building a house out of LEGOS or digging a hole in the sand at the beach. Nothing else seemed to matter. Like a skillful pitcher in baseball, you tuned out the rest of the world. Like an improvising musician, you lost yourself in the Dionysian moment. When you snapped back to reality, you hardly knew what had overtaken you.
If Haidt teaches us anything, it is that true happiness is achieved through living in the present moment, but not simply in losing ourselves passively in front of a monitor. We are industrious creatures; we are built to create. I ask this of you — balance consumption with innovation. Challenge yourself with goals that push your strengths to the limit. Do not sit in quiet resignation. Explore your artistic capabilities. And enjoy the journey.
1. Jonathan Haidt. The Happiness Hypothesis. 83-84.
2. Ibid. 85.
3. Ibid. 92-94.