The answer has evolved over the last century…
It was great, I pushed myself and feel fabulous.
It was okay, I came in fourth place in the race, but those other guys beat me again.
I did fine. My speed was 15.6 miles per hour, not my best average.
Well, the computer says it was a personal best, and my heartrate approached max on the third hill.
The app says that I did that route the 159th best of everyone who has ever done it. A bust…
More information doesn't always make us happier. At some point, improvement turns into a game, something to be won or lost, completely losing the point of the project we set out to do.
It's no wonder that after a certain point, increased income doesn't usually lead to more happiness. If income becomes a game, not a means to an end, then people will distort their goals and choices in order to win. They'll cut corners, maybe even do things they're not particularly proud of, all because our culture has created a huge scoreboard, updated hourly.
The same thing is true with the quest to win the sports trophy at all costs, or to measure your office in square inches and compare it to the next guy's…
"How big was your bonus," is not the same question as, "how happy are you?" or even, "do you feel good about making a difference…"