Growth vs Happiness

I love growth. It makes me happier than just about anything. But even with that strong bias, I have to admit that there is a very real tension between the impulse for growth and the impulse for satisfaction.

One poignant example is two facts that I had previously believed strongly without ever considering how they impact each other!

On one hand, there is the very common refrain that you are the average of the 5 people closest to you. In general, I think there is a lot of truth to this -- and there is significant scientific evidence that backs up social contagion. It's important to consciously make decisions about this group as it will disproportionate impact on your life.

On the other hand, there is scientific evidence that your contentment is influenced significantly more by your "success" relative to those close to you -- rather than your absolute success. In other words, if you live in a neighborhood where everyone drives a Honda and you have a Honda, you'll be fine with that. If you live in a neighborhood where everyone drives a Mercedes and you drive a Honda, you won't be happy with that. And, if you live in a neighborhood where you drive a Mercedes and everyone else drives a Honda, you'll be happiest.

And here's the thing -- the five people you spend the most time with can either add to your contentment and make you feel like you are doing well... or they can spur growth by implicitly raising the bar -- and thus reducing contentment.


Obviously, the best case scenario is increased growth and contentment concurrently and I'm confident that there are ways to achieve both.

Mostly, I'm shocked that I never juxtaposed these ideas on my own - despite knowing and internally citing them with some frequency.

Funny the things that we miss.

ExcellenceRebecca Rapple