What Makes People Happy in Work

I posed a question recently through one of the many LinkedIn groups (btw, if you’re interested in a relatively safe environment to share ideas with peers and pose questions,  I highly recommend joining a group that suits your needs). I asked how people stay sane and positive during the work week.

The “happiest” bunch I came across were the entrepreneurs that worked out of their homes selling cosmetics after spending 8 hours at work or after 20 years working in corporate America, decided to try something different and start their own business. While each story was different, the thread tying all those stories together was the “I can do this on my own” factor.

Happiness has been on my mind a lot this month and while I’ve never been one to be overly enthusiastic about life in general, as I told my PIC (partner-in-crime), there are varying degrees of unhappiness. These degrees are usually exponentially related to the amount of work I get involved in, with regards to my full-time job/day gig.

It goes like this: The more responsibilities I assume in my day gig (x), the less energy I have left to pursue the writing that interests me (y) outside of my day gig, the greater my frustration and anxiety = the more unhappy I am. I have an hour commute to and from work each day, in which I mull over happiness – my own and others around me.

People who are passionate about what they do and approach their work with a more meaningful sense of urgency and purpose –  as an extension of their vision, will succeed and undoubtedly be more fulfilled in the work. This is  belief system I can buy into.

Jim Collins, author of “Good to Great” speaks of uber-visionaries and entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs at Apple and Yvon Chouinard at Patagonia – men whose companies and brands extended far beyond simply a “computer” and a “clothing store.” They wanted to reshape the way people think and feel about the world in which they live and the relationships they cultivate and grow.

I love listening to inspirational stories about what work makes people happy and why. I hope one day I’ll be able to put it together which as much self-assurance and determination as my peers. For now, I’ll settle on living vicariously.


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