Nancy K Schlossberg Ed.D.

Transitions Through Life

My Take on Happiness-The need to "Matter"

I too have a take on what makes for happiness.

Posted Nov 12, 2010

Articles and books about happiness are increasing. Well, My interviews with adult learners and retirees led to the following conclusion: happiness and "mattering" go hand-in-hand.

Let me explain. Morris Rosenberg, the late distinguished Sociologist from the University of Maryland, coined the phrase "mattering" as the universal, but overlooked, motive to feel noticed, appreciated, and depended upon. Rosenberg found that teenagers who felt they "mattered" to teachers, peers, and parents were less likely to engage in delinquent behavior than those who did not feel they "mattered" to others. We studied "mattering" and retention of adult learners. Not surprisingly, we found that those institutions with practices, programs, and policies that were responsive to the needs of adults, had a higher percentage of adults completing their programs-which led to feelings of competency and happiness. Rosenberg suggested, and I found, that retirees who feel appreciated report feeling happy.

The universal need for happiness and the universal need to feel noticed and appreciated go together. You can have money and jewels, but if you feel sidelined, out of the loop you will be unhappy. So here are some happiness tips:

A Mattering Recipe-A Road to Happiness

1. Get Involved, Stay Involved-Volunteer, work part-time, "get out there" and become essential to a group or organization;

2. Harness the Power of Invitation-Take advantage of invitations. You never know where they will lead;

3 Make Others Feel They Matter-Show your appreciation for what others have done, and even make that appreciation public.

Does this guarantee total bliss? No, but it is a start.

Nancy K. Schlossberg, Copyright 2010
Author, Revitalizing Retirement: Reshaping Your Identity, Relationships, and Purpose