3. The So-Called Happiness Boost: A Promotion or Raise
Why you think it will make you happier: Gaining a better title will earn you more respect at work, right? And we all perpetually covet a boost in pay to afford whatever luxuries are currently on our Just Out of Reach list, be it a gorgeous winter coat or newly renovated kitchen.
Why it doesn’t always work: Our brain adapts really quickly in regard to how we perceive that new figure on our paycheck. We set goals because we believe we will be happy when we achieve them. But as soon as we do, our brain changes the goalposts of the success.
4. The So-Called Happiness Boost: A New Job
Why you think it will make you happier: You swear that you dream of telling your boss to “take this job and shove it.” Then, or so the fantasy goes, you’d never have to deal with the horrible commute again. You’d never waste another minute in another pointless meeting. You’d get a shiny new job and it would be everything that your old job wasn’t, with the “new is always better” rule in full effect.
Why it doesn’t always work: Maybe you are over your job. Maybe it is time to move on. But there are also plenty of times that it’s not necessarily the gig itself, but your attitude toward it that’s holding you back. Before you throw in the towel, try this happiness-boosting trick: You can train your brains to be grateful and appreciative of the environment that you’re in, and to find ways to improve it.
5. The So-Called Happiness Boost: “More Meaningful” Work
Why you think it will make you happier: As human beings, we want to feel a sense of meaning and purpose in our lives, that’s why people fantasize about ditching their corporate jobs to volunteer overseas or teach in a struggling classroom. We dream of curing cancer or climbing mountains, and think, without that, our work lacks import.
Why it doesn’t always work: When Dan Ariely, a leader in the field of behavioral economics, conducted a study to explore what makes people find meaning in their work, the outcome truly surprised him. In one experiment, he asked subjects to build sculptures out of Legos for $3 a piece. Then, he gradually lowered the price he would pay them for making the same creations. Surprisingly, his participants kept on toiling as the price they were paid got steadily lower.