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Study advises prioritizing personal relationships over work success to boost happiness

Here’s something to reflect on this Valentine’s Day. A recent study shows that Americans’ deep-seated regrets most often involve personal relationship mishaps, not missed career opportunities.

In the study (subscription required), researchers surveyed 500 U.S. adults about their biggest disappointments in life and then analyzed their remorse to identify what parts of their lives were most directly impacted. Healthland reports:

Study participants were asked to describe regrets that they considered both strong and weak, along with the situation that surrounded the regret. Analysis revealed that regrets involving love — think ending a relationship or cheating — rankle more than those related to less intimate choices such as dropping out of college or quitting a job. The study, published online last week in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, reported that love regrets outnumbered work regrets by more than 2 to 1 — 56% to 20% — in some of the comparisons. The more intense a regret, the more likely it was to be connected to personal relationships.

What that means in general is that being bad at keeping in touch with old friends or forgetting to buy Valentine’s chocolates for your sweetie has the potential to make you feel worse — much worse — than making a mistake at work. “As you are thinking about how to feel good about your life, the thing you will feel most strongly about is protecting and strengthening your personal relationships,” says [Neal Roese, PhD, a marketing professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University].

Previously: How social ties can influence our health, happiness
Photo by Chris Sloan

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