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Psychology of Life

Since it's a holiday I'm going to go ahead and post a TED Talk. It's a good one though, don't worry.

Anyone with a basic understanding of behavioral economics has heard all of the material that's in Daniel Kahneman's talk before. What's really interesting is the discussion that begins at 17:00 about the personal income and happiness.

I've seen this statistic is used by both people who want to argue that money buys happiness and those who want to argue exactly the opposite. The difference is whether the data point begins or ends at the $60,000 inflection point. What Kahneman's point suggests is that we shouldn't worry about the strength of the relationship on either side of that point; we ought to focus instead on getting and staying near that point.

I guess what this means is that the ideal career goal isn't necessarily what most people would cite: being successful and making a lot of money. The idea career goal is more like: making just the right amount of money at in a career that isn't overly stressful or demanding and that allows for plenty of leisure in your spare time. The question I have for career bloggers or anyone else with an opinion on this question is, how do you get to that precise point?


Bryan Willman said…
This is great work. But it seems to miss a key thing.

"Happiness" may not be the goal.

The real goal is some variant of "to win" - to win genetic competition, to win social competition, to win rest from anxiety about the future. To win happiness from life.

And for societies as a whole, "winning" - meaning surviving in the competition with other socities and the environment as a whole, will always be the defining characteristic - because those socities which don't have it will disappear.

Of course, various flavors of happiness may be part of or key to winning. But they should not be confused for winning, nor should they be confused with being the principal goals of a person or society.

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