The Progress Paradox: Doing Better, Feeling Worse

As a society, we’re achieving more yet feeling worse. Even when well paid, we’re dissatisfied. Most of us accomplish plenty but lack feelings of well-being.

While every metric of society is improving worldwide, our happiness levels are declining — and the more we have and achieve, the less successful we feel. This phenomenon is known as the “progress paradox.”

  • In a worldwide survey of happiness, the United States ranked a dismal 23rd.
  • Between 1972 and 2004, Americans’ real buying power doubled, yet our feelings of financial security dropped by 34%.
  • The number of people who felt very happy with their lives dropped by 31% during that time. (Shawn Achor, One Day University Presents: Positive Psychology: The Science of Happiness)

What does make us feel good about ourselves?

  1. The ability to manage energy and stress in positive ways
  2. A strong social support network
  3. Most importantly, believing that what we do matters

This article reveals the latest psychological research that challenges some of our most commonly held beliefs about satisfaction and well-being and suggests action steps you can take right now to increase your feelings of happiness.

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