I have spent a lot of time lately thinking about why we work and it’s relationship to happiness. Yes I know it is to get money – and for a very special few there is that satisfaction of working just because they absolutely love what they are doing.
However we are talking about the mainstream and I will leave it to you to decide where you fit.
The people I coach and consult seem to be working for money. Always more money to live a better lifestyle, to send kids to great schools, to live in good houses in good neighborhoods (with good schools), have a decent car, health insurance, and save for the future.
To accomplish all that, many people work way more than 40 hours a week, and a lot commute to work taking up another hour or two a day.
That leaves the nights for kids, spouses or partners, and relaxing to get ready for the same tomorrow. Weekends are spent for the most part catching up at the house, or the cabin, or the car(s), attending kids events, and possibly even a getaway.
And, lest we forget, the one or two weeks vacation out of every 52.
How many are saving for the future? Few, if polls are to believed at all.
I guess my point is this. What is the point?
It seems to me we are losing the kids as there is not enough time left for them. The kids are being raised by teachers, who are overwhelmed and underpaid.
Not many people are saving enough for a ‘retirement’ no matter how hard they struggle.
Values and morals are plummenting as evidenced by TV, music and video. Violence is common and almost accepted as the norm.
And millions of people tune into ‘reality’ shows because they do not have a reality of their own.
All of this I see daily although our family has not had programmed TV in our house in 15 years, nor do we get newspapers or magazines (except National Geographic), our two children have been homeschooled from the very beginning, and we live on a horse farm where labor and participation by all is mandatory.
Which brings me back to happiness. What is it and how do you define it – for you?
Does your work help create happiness in your life? Or take it away? How do you define happiness?
I would love to know. Please leave your comments here.
Until next time.
Don’t worry, be happy!
Miami, that was most interesting. I have two jobs now and I still like my own business, but really don’t like the other one. I have a micro manager that likes to dial for dollars (250 cold calls a month). I have absolutely no time to do anything except work. However, I am forever searching for a way to make more money and enjoy the process more. I think I might have found it in developing a new franchasis opportunity.
Since there is no option to working, what would you suggest?
Have a great day,
Well actually Lynn – is there truly no option to working?
I wonder. My question is what is work? Is work what we do to pay our bills? Is work what we do to find ourselves?
Until each of us defines the meaning of work for us as individuals I do not think you can say with certainty there is no option.
For example: if a person had no or very little expenses – like when we owned a sailboat – and it cost little to maintain, and other expenses were low – what would work look like at that point?
In my opinion we have created a world where each of us is defined by work we do (as in “What do you do?”) and this work has altered our lifestyles to such a degree that unhappiness is a easily seen consequence.
This is the theme of my book BeDoHave several years ago and I have become more convinced since then…
Thanks for your comment Lynn!
This discussion is one that I run into frequently in Leadership Training; usually the question is “what motivates people at work and is money really a motivator.” It typically leads to looking at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs which assumes that people do what they do to meet their core needs. Generally his studies show people have these basic needs and in this order:
Survival needs – Food ,Water, shelter
Safety needs – Life & Limb are not threatened
Belongingness needs – Love, companionship, social interaction
Esteem needs – Adequacy, independence, confidence, strength,appreciation
Self Actualization – Fulfillment, developing full potential, skills and
It seems to me that people work for all of these things. What is really interesting is that the intensity of each need changes based on how much it is satisfied. As the lower needs are satisfied the higher ones become more important, we are never satisfied.
But then money seems to affect many levels of needs:
Base pay – Survival
Benefits – Safety & Security
Bonus – Esteem
Stock Options – Esteem & Belonging
So yes, people work for money to satisfy many levels of needs and it seems that if the money doesn’t meet their expectations, they become dissatisfied and work harder to reach that belief of what it should be. I think people who work to collect “Stuff” (most of us) are satisfying their esteem needs, feelings of being successful. However, lose a job and the need becomes survival and stuff isn’t really important.
Lynn is typical, she works one unfulfilling job to satisfy her survival needs and she seeks another job to satisfy survival and self actualizing needs but doesn’t “have a life” in the meantime.
You are correct, most of us unconsciously design our lives around work to satisfy our basic needs and then once they are met we do it to meet our higher needs. Happiness is another animal and becomes something different for each of us, but it can come from work. Ideally, work can satisfy all levels of needs, look at Sam Walton, Oprah, Bill Gates, Willy Nelson; all met their needs by doing what was right for them, what they loved to do and in the process accumulated lots of stuff. Also, look at Mother Teresa, Jesus and millions of missionaries today, they met/meet their needs by doing what was/is right for others with little regard for stuff except for survival. The difference it appears is focusing work for self vs focusing work for others. Most of us do some of both but mostly for self; when real happiness comes more from doing for others. As Jesus said, you can’t add an hour to your life by worrying about what happened yesterday or about what will happen tomorrow and you can’t take your stuff with you in the end. My mother’s death this week proves this clearly, all kinds of stuff going to others and even the trash bin. However she lived a happy life, much of which was devoted to serving other.
Mother Teresa discovered and Missionaries prove to themselves through faith what Jesus knew, you will find happiness by loving God and loving your neighbor and living your life that way,and the stuff you need will come.
It is interesting to see how when the really wealthy have gone as high as they can, they start giving it away to find real happiness, Oprah and Gates are great examples. When one is given much, much is expected of them?
Miami, it looks like you have it right,”BeDoHave” is really the way we’ll find happiness and most of have in backwards “DoHaveBe” and many of us never get to the “Be” part.
Expect the best,
Miami: My reaction to your most recent post from my heart is that no matter what I do ever since you helped me to stop working for the public companies and to have the strength, belief in myself, and the tenacity to make my own company work, my working with writers is bringing me happiness. I love fulfilling an empty place in other’s lives. To me it is very enjoyable to watch the books unfold and to watch an artist bring live to a children’s book that starts out as only words, etc. The challenge to me of not just being a self-publishing company but being a company that creates an environment of books that have life — shelf life — home life — office life — children’s toy box life — pass it on life. It is important to me to have books that will live forever. How could I not enjoy this no matter how many hours I work? I work because it gives me a sense of purpose in the service-work world that forever I have been a part of and my hope is that there will always be a way I can touch lives and help people find miracles.
Today, I took time to shut it all down and relax and took an 8 hour break to refresh and spend time with family and clean house. Afterward, I looked forward to returning to ideas that came about while I was on break. Would I rather be at the beach swimming or on a cruise or flying to South Carolina for a week? Yes, but am I content to be right here working with writers and artists and printers? Yes, I am, for now. Nothing is permanent, right?
Anyway – thank you for your encouragement throughout the years to do what I love best and yes, this has brought me happiness.