Psychological Self-Help

Navigation bar
  Home Print document View PDF document Start Previous page
 120 of 179 
Next page End Contents 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125  

Other people have argued that the focus of James' formula,
happiness, is of secondary importance. Garcia (1971) contends that
happiness should not be life's main goal. He claims accomplishments--
seeking knowledge or helping others--are far more important goals
and more realistically satisfying in the long run than happiness (see
chapter 3). Fourth, the facts are that some unhappy people have given
the world great accomplishments--Lincoln, Gandhi, Goethe, Luther,
Van Gogh, Mark Twain, Beethoven, Michelangelo, and many others. If
they had to choose between happiness and the accomplishments they
gave us, which do you think they would choose? 
How we handle failure is critical. An achiever acquires confidence
and pride by taking on challenging life goals, by using good models
and methods for getting there, and by putting in the time and effort to
make the accomplishments meaningful. In contrast, a low achiever
(see attribution theory in chapter 4), preoccupied with avoiding failure,
will either choose an extremely easy task or a very difficult one.
Neither task puts him/her to a test; both the very easy and the
impossible are cop outs. 
The achiever is "mastery-oriented;" the low achiever is
"performance-oriented," i.e. he/she is most concerned with avoiding
failure and looking good, not with learning or mastery. In contrast, the
mastery-oriented person welcomes tough challenges because he/she is
most concerned with learning something worthwhile, not building an
image. After a failure, such a person would say, "Okay, I didn't win but
what a learning experience! I'll practice another approach and then try
To the extent that more effort and learning better skills would
significantly improve our performance, it is important to take control of
the situation, rather than blaming our poor performance on factors
that are not under our control. In short, to manage our life we have to
take responsibility for it--take charge. It is the reason we give
ourselves for the failure that determines how we feel: 
Explanation for
"I need more
Gain skills, try again
"I can't do it"
Work harder, learn more skills, or
accept situation
"I didn't work hard
Try harder, use better methods &
time management
"It was too hard for
Inadequacy, sad or
Develop better skills or strategies;
lower goals
"It was _____'s
Anger, unfairly
Assertiveness, demand justice; be
Previous page Top Next page

« Back