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Can Work and Happiness Go Together?

Can Work and Happiness Go Together?

If you were to type in your search bar the definition for happiness, you would find answers such as “a state of well-being”1 or “a state in which one feels contentment or joy.”2

On average, Americans will spend 90,000 hours at work3 throughout their lifetime. This makes it inevitable that a person’s work will also factor into their overall levels of happiness.

Could you imagine spending 90,000 hours at a job that makes you say “Wow! This work makes me happy!”? On the other hand, could you imagine working at a job that does not contribute to your happiness?

Painting a Scenario

This is a simple, yet eye-opening scenario. There are 168 hours in a week. You spend 564 of those hours sleeping. Let’s say about 40 (23.8%) of those hours, possibly more, are spent at work. That is a significant amount of time. If you wake up in the morning excited about what you get to do for a living, you are more likely to enjoy your eight hours at work, come home happy, enjoy your loved ones and go to bed happy.

The opposite is true as well. If you wake up in the morning dreading work, you are more likely to come home grumpy, exhausted, and go to bed with the haunting reality that you will have to wake up and do it all over again.

Keeping it real, we have all seen or experienced how a bad day at work has the power to linger long after the shift is over. Now, imagine what years of bad work days could do to a person because of unhappiness at a job.

Can Money Buy Happiness?

When choosing a career, it is no secret that a show-me-the-money mentality is one of the main factors that goes into choosing a job. What if instead, people selected happiness as the top criterion for choosing a career path?

Let us paint another scenario. Imagine that you really enjoy teaching. You conduct some research on how much you could get paid and find out, on average, teachers make $14.99 per hour5 in the United States. That is not great news. You then search for jobs that pay more, and find a job that you are indifferent towards, yet it makes way more money. This is the reality of how some people go about choosing their careers.

The problem is, in ten, twenty, or forty years, will this money have brought the most satisfaction? Will you retire happy and without any regrets knowing that your passions and skills could have been put to better use elsewhere?

Yes, money—a main factor that goes into choosing a career path—can buy happiness—up to a certain point. Once people have enough income to pay their food, health care, and shelter, money does not bring more happiness.6

Consequences of Unhappiness

Some antonyms for happiness are unhappiness (of course), along with joylessness, sorrow, disheartenment, and melancholy7 . Yikes.

There are numerous studies that show “that the effects of job unhappiness can impact your overall mental health, causing problems with sleep, anxiety, and depression.”8 Science confirms that sleep is important for both our physical and mental health. Anxiety and depression have proven to get in the way of how we interact with ourselves and others.

And yes, there are things people can do to the enjoy work a little more, such as practicing gratitude and having work friends. However, what if there was a way to avoid these consequences and try to hit the ground running with an enjoyable job in the first place? What if you could find a job motivated by happiness instead of money? A job in which one gets to practice their passions and help other people? A job that brings about contentment and overall well-being? What would that look like?

Giving Back Matters

Among the list of the top ten happiest jobs are dental hygienist, education administrator, speech-language pathologist, and an occupational therapist.9 One thing these jobs have in common is that they work directly with helping other people. Could it be that there is a correlation between happiness and jobs that give to others?

Scientific research provides data that supports that giving back provides lasting happiness.10 Some of the health benefits that come with giving include increased self-esteem, less depression, lower levels of stress, and “greater happiness and satisfaction.”11

Aside from the health perks, people are more creative and better at problem solving. There is also in increase in innovation, along with the ability to see the bigger picture in the face of adversity.12 All of these things make for better all-around employees.

Choose Happiness

If you feel like your job contributes to your happiness, that is wonderful!

If you feel like your job hinders your happiness, this is a tough place to be. It’s difficult to leave a job that pays the bills and brings job security, but it might not be too late to make a career out of your passions.

If you are still a student and are not quite sure what you want to do, or you think that you know but have no real-world experience in the field, the decision to find a career that brings about happiness can be daunting. OmniLYF serves as a tool to gain real-world experience by exploring different career paths, working on real-world projects, and networking.

There are over 12,000 jobs13 to choose from. Choose a career that brings you satisfaction and fulfillment. Choose a career that draws out your passions. Choose a career that gives you a sense of purpose—your happiness depends on it.

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2 According to Psychology Today

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