Study says ambitious people die young and unhappy

High aspirations can also take a toll on your life. A new study claims that ambitious people earn more money no doubt, but they may die younger and stay unhappy than those who are less ambitious.

The possible reason: Highly ambitious people devote so much time to their jobs that they neglect areas of life proven to help people live long, happy lives, such as having strong networks of friends and stable relationships, say researchers.

For their study, the researchers at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business tracked 717 high achievers who attended universities such as Oxford, Harvard and Yale, as well as high ability individuals with no university degrees.

The study focused on people born in the first half of the 20th Century, and tracked them to the end of their lives.

“Ambitious kids had higher educational attainment, attended highly esteemed universities, worked in more prestigious occupations, and earned more. So, it would seem that they are poised to ‘have it all’.

“However, we determined that ambition has a much weaker effect on life satisfaction and actually a slightly negative impact on longevity (how long people lived).

“So, yes, ambitious people do achieve more successful careers, but that doesn’t seem to translate into leading happier or healthier lives,” the Daily Mail quoted Timothy Judge, who led the study, as saying.

The researchers used a complex formula to judge ambition at every stage of life — and to divide high-ability individuals into “ambitious” and “less ambitious” groups.

“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. Despite their many accomplishments, ambitious people are only slightly happier than their less-ambitious counterparts, and they actually live somewhat shorter lives.

“Perhaps the investments they make in their careers come at the expense of the things we know affect longevity: healthy behaviours, stable relationships and deep social networks,” Prof Judge said.

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