Ambition May Earn You Money, But It Doesn't Spell Happiness

Study shows go-getters may land better jobs but aren't guaranteed pleasure in life

by Lesley Kennedy • Reporter

Ever wonder why you bother trying so hard? Maybe it’s time to let a few things go.

New research out of the University of Notre Dame finds being ambitious doesn’t always lead to happiness, according to a press release from the school.

“If ambition has its positive effects, and in terms of career success it certainly seems that it does, our study also suggests that it carries with it some cost,” management professor Timothy Judge, lead author of the study, says in the release. “Despite their many accomplishments, ambitious people are only slightly happier than their less- ambitious counterparts, and they actually live somewhat shorter lives.”

Judge’s research found ambitious kids went to more esteemed schools, worked in more prestigious careers and made more money.

“So, it would seem that they are poised to ‘have it all,’ ” Judge says in the release. “However, we determined that ambition has a much weaker effect on life satisfaction and actually a slightly negative impact on longevity. So, yes, ambitious people do achieve more successful careers, but that doesn't seem to translate into leading happier or healthier lives.”

See, it really is OK to relax a little. We’re feeling happier already.

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First Published March 7, 2012

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