Journal of Adult Development

, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 239–250 | Cite as

From Failure to Flourishing: The Roles of Acceptance and Goal Reengagement

  • Rebecca J. North
  • Charles J. Holahan
  • Caryn L. Carlson
  • Sandra A. Pahl


Two studies were conducted to examine the relationship between a proposed adaptive response to failure and subsequent flourishing. The cognitive/emotional level of the proposed adaptive response to failure, acceptance of negative emotions, is characterized by allowing negative emotions to surface without trying to control them. The behavioral level of response, goal reengagement, is characterized by reengaging with new, intrinsically meaningful goals. Study 1 (N = 50) was based on a community sample (age range 32–90 years) and consisted of semi-structured interviews coded for participants’ response to the biggest job-related failure ever experienced and current psychological flourishing. Study 2 (N = 101), an online study based on a different community sample (age range 18–73 years), further tested the proposed adaptive response to failure by using questionnaires to assess participants’ response to the biggest job-related failure ever experienced and current flourishing. Findings across both studies indicated that responding to failure by accepting negative emotions and reengaging with new, intrinsically meaningful goals was associated with greater subsequent flourishing, including more happiness and fewer depressive symptoms.


Failure Flourishing Happiness Acceptance Goal reengagement 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rebecca J. North
    • 1
  • Charles J. Holahan
    • 1
  • Caryn L. Carlson
    • 1
  • Sandra A. Pahl
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyThe University of Texas at AustinAustinUSA

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