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Redefining Success in AmericaA New Theory of Happiness and Human Development$
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Michael Kaufman

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226550015

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226550299.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 26 July 2021

The Forces Shaping Our Well-Being

The Forces Shaping Our Well-Being

(p.211) Chapter 11 The Forces Shaping Our Well-Being
Redefining Success in America

Michael B. Kaufman

University of Chicago Press

Chapter 11 considers the practical significance of the paradigm for understanding the individual and adult life developed in the book, which allows a person to recognize him or herself in a new way and apply the same understanding to others. It considers the book’s central insight, that what truly matters to well-being is not competitive success but the developmental forces shaping experiences. The promise that competitive success is a ticket to the good life is an artifact of a careerist value system and its saturated discourse in American society, and is false. Adults are shaped by the unique personal strivings and understandings that they embrace to make their lives meaningful and significant. While being interviewed by the study, participants gained a keener awareness of how their strivings and understandings had shaped their long-term trajectories and central experiences. This understanding of the individual, more holistic and subject-centric than the one advanced by happiness research, holds implications for psychotherapy. Significant change, a deep transformation in chronic well-being, does not arise from short-term volition or interventions, or from relating to oneself principally as an economic actor. Relationships, past and present, and long-term trial and error are key instruments of change.

Keywords:   adult, success, change, well-being, relationships, psychotherapy

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