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Yet Another Formula For Happiness

January is finally over!  The holidays are in the rearview mirror!  The resolutions we’ve made have failed or have long since been forgotten. Depending on whose statistics you embrace, 90% of all resolutions fail 60% in the first 3 days!

            On reflection, what are these resolutions about?  What are they all after?  What are they trying to achieve?  The bottom line is, they’re all about self-happiness, self-satisfaction.  The “Pursuit of Happiness” is a cottage industry!  Here’s an interesting quote from one of my favorite counter-cultural books, Against Happiness, by Eric Wilson, “In worshipping and constantly pursuing happiness – we blind ourselves to the lives we actually live!”

The pursuit of happiness is a part of America’s “self-help” culture.  Ironically, it turns out that the key to happiness is very pedestrian.  The University of Chicago’s General Social Survey, conducted since 1972, concluded that beyond “genes” and “monumental events”, “work” is a key factor in happiness.

Much of work is drudgery.  Many people are “dissatisfied” or “dislike” their work.  Many people simply “work to live.”  Few people truly say, “I live to work”.  But work is relevant to happiness, especially if “people have a say in the work they choose to do.”

Part of American culture, character, and myth is the “work ethic”.  To be happy at work means or suggests we have fulfilled the American ethos.  Meaningful work allows us the joy of achievement, creative effort, earned success, and engaged activity.  Work is really the key issue to overall happiness in life.  The “joy of achievement” outranks material and financial success.  What solid work means is that this thing we do 40 to 60 hours a week is not killing us, depressing us.  The ironic logic of good work is that it frees us from bad work and allows us alternatives in our lives.  Good work allows us to have a central focus in life.  It gives us a sense of success.  It allows us more energy for other non-work issues, and crisis.

Happiness is not one thing.  Happiness is not being better at “X”; being “thinner”; being a “non-smoker”.  Good work gives us a platform of stability, and allows us to pursue happiness in all the various parts/moments of our life.

  • By Danielle on 2.7.2014 at 5:55 pm

    It is strange to think of work as an avenue to pursue happiness, but I can see the logic in it. I guess it makes sense, considering that most people spend more time at work than with their families. If work life is satisfying, it would pave the way for other parts of your life to be equally enjoyable. Food for thought…

  • By Mason D. on 2.10.2014 at 12:49 pm

    Well, I know my resolution is already suffering, hah. But this is an interesting read; as someone who hasn’t had much experience in the job market, I think I’m a bit more vulnerable to looking for work that I’ll enjoy, simply because the mounting pressures of family and bills aren’t on me just yet. Definitely something to look out for, though.

  • By Lu on 2.11.2014 at 10:53 pm

    I definitely agree that meaningful work energizes me and it makes me different. 2014 is going to be a life changing year for me because I literally wrote my new year list and for each goal, I asked myself “Why” (yes, other years I didn’t know what I was writing about) It is so different that everything I do, everyday I live for a goal and a purpose. That sense of achievement is huge and it is not a thing– it is from everything that I do:)

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