We are happy when we are growing.
I think I first heard this idea articulated within the context of persuasion.
But I also know this by my own experience.
Take this blog for example.
I am less concerned about how many unique visitors I have had over the last 30 days.
I am more concerned with the growth rate of unique visitors over the last 30 days.
Sure I am working toward a certain level of monthly visitors. But on the way there, consistent progress is what encourages me to keep moving forward – and lets me know I am moving forward in the right way.
Then I thought of a line from William Butler Yeats. “Happiness,” wrote Yeats, “is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that, but simply growth. We are happy when we are growing.” Contemporary researchers make the same argument: that it isn’t goal attainment but the process of striving after goals—that is, growth—that brings happiness.
-Gretchen Rubin, The Happiness Project