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.