Finally, there is the matter of how a person’s success or failure effects their mental health.
Developmental psychologists know that there is nothing more valuable in developing a healthy, positive self-identity than “success experiences.” Successes lead to a strong self-concept. They lead to a feeling of competency and a sense of mastery. Successes help build a life-long sense of independence, security, and self-assurance.
Failures, on the other hand, undermine self-esteem. They lead to undue caution, insecurity, and a sense of worthlessness. Nothing is more devastating to a person’s ego, one’s self-esteem, or the feeling that one has lost control over one’s life, than failure. Chronic failure can build to create a highly negative self-image. And with it can come the associated feelings of inferiority, apathy, anxiety, anger, guilt, and frustration — all the earmarks of an unhealthy personality.
It’s hitting the mark that counts! But hitting the mark depends largely on where you set it. The happiest people apparently know, as I have lectured over the years,
“It is far better to succeed at a whole series of more modest goals, than to fail reaching for the stars.” (XXX)
Happiness, according to many people I have interviewed over the years, is often defined, quite simply, as “getting what you want in life.” There is much truth to this simple view of happiness: “getting what you want” can contribute a lot to your happiness. Furthermore, the research we’ve reviewed previously shows clearly that happy people tend to do quite well when it comes to achieving the things they want in life. Yet here, we’ve come to appreciate why…
Happy people get what they want because they want things they can realistically achieve.