By David DeAngelo/Tech Insider/Getty ImagesA few years ago, the New York Times published a book called The Happiness Project: How the New Science of Happiness can Transform the World.
The book is filled with inspirational quotes from motivational speakers and celebrities like Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Mark Cuban, and others who believe that the world can be better if we all embrace the joys of happiness.
But when it comes to the more mundane aspects of happiness, these authors often fall short.
According to a new study, there’s one common theme that seems to help motivate us to be happy: motivation.
This research, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, suggests that the same psychological processes that seem to motivate us in the first place are the reason we’re motivated to be happier than we otherwise would be.
Researchers from Duke University and the University of Southern California, for instance, found that motivation is linked to feelings of positive emotions, which are a strong predictor of happiness for a wide range of individuals.
This may not sound like a huge finding, but it could be crucial for those who suffer from depression, anxiety, or other mental illnesses.
And this research adds some more insight into how motivation works to help people with these disorders feel better.
In one study, participants were asked to complete a series of tasks that included asking themselves, “Would I feel more happy if I could just give myself a pat on the back?”
The researchers found that people who were motivated to say yes to this task reported feeling more happy.
They also reported feeling better about themselves, which could be due to the belief that they can control their moods and feel better overall.
“When people feel good about themselves and feel that they have control over their life, they’re more likely to be motivated to try and make things better,” said Daniel Schulte, the lead author of the study and a psychology professor at Duke.
This belief in self-control is also linked to a decrease in depression and anxiety.
But it may also contribute to a feeling of happiness because it gives people a sense of accomplishment, according to Schultes.
“You’re less likely to get depressed if you feel like you’re getting a reward,” he said.
“That could be the difference between being able to get a job or be able to have kids.”
It’s not just the happiness of happy people that is linked with motivation.
Research has also shown that those who report feeling more positive emotions also tend to be more satisfied with their lives.
People who report higher levels of happiness also tend have more positive thoughts about themselves.
And if you are a happy person, you may also be more likely than others to get more enjoyment out of life.
The study used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), a nationally representative sample of 1,000 American teens.
The sample was drawn from a group of 7,890 middle and high school students.
The researchers asked participants to complete three measures: 1) How often they thought about their current happiness, 2) how happy they were about their own happiness, and 3) how satisfied they were with their current relationship.
Overall, the study found that those participants who scored higher on one of these three measures reported more positive and satisfied feelings about their lives than those who scored lower on one or both measures.
This may suggest that, rather than being the result of something intrinsic to being a happy individual, being motivated to achieve happiness is a result of what psychologists call “self-control,” or the ability to maintain a level of control over your own life.
For the researchers, these results are an important piece of the puzzle for people with mental health issues who are struggling with depression, as well as for those with anxiety disorders and other mental health conditions.
“We want to know if there are any benefits from being motivated by these positive feelings,” said Schulten.
“These are things that may not have been discussed before, and they’re really important to understand in order to understand whether there’s a link between positive emotions and happiness.”
While the study is interesting, Schulteres said it’s not the only piece of evidence that helps explain why people are motivated to experience happiness.
It’s also possible that positive feelings, in general, are just as important as feelings of happiness and can be reduced through the same strategies that motivate us.
The bottom line, Schulze added, is that it is important to recognize the importance of motivating yourself with positive emotions.
“If you’re not going to achieve the goal, it’s probably a good idea to be satisfied with what you have.”
Read more about depression, mood disorders, and happiness: