Conclusion: Suggestions for Healthy Goal Striving

Ken Sheldon and Peter Schmuck[1]


What are the implications of various types of life goal pursuits for human well-being? Our conclusory chapter tackles this question, by reviewing the findings within this book. A “holistic principle of motivation” is introduced, to capture the fact that humans appear to be happiest when they are striving for “something larger” than themselves. This something may be a new, more integrated vision of self; an enhanced interpersonal relationship; a more cohesive group or community; or even a healthier planetary ecosystem. Based on this principle and other findings in the book, we venture a set of “suggestions for striving,” by which people may be able to make themselves happier. Next, we discuss the consistency of the book’s findings with other emerging views of human nature, in the fields of economics, evolutionary biology, and clinical psychology. We conclude that a vision of humans as inherently prosocial and growth-oriented seems to be more accurate than the traditional assumption of inherent human selfishness. Finally, limitations of the presented research, and remaining open questions, are addressed.



[1] We thank Mihaly Csikszentmihaly for helpful comments on earlyer versions of this chapter.