Work makes you happy, at least the challenging, meaningful sort

In article on work and happiness in Sonja Lyubomirski’s (professor in
psychology) and Signal Patterns’ iPhone application “Live Happy”, they
write:

/”Positive Psychologists are often asked, ‘What makes people happy?’
Until a few years ago, the answer always reflected the common wisdom
and empirical findings of the field – ‘It’s relationships, stupid.’
That is, our interpersonal ties – the strength of our friendships,
familial bonds, and intimate connections – show the highest
correlations with well-being.

However a meta-analysis (a “study of studies”) of 225 studies of
well-being conducted by Sonja Lyubomirsky, Laura King, and Ed Diener,
proved otherwise. What they expected to discover was that social
relationships – more than any other variable – would be both causes
and consequences of being happy. However, what they observed was
something rather different. One factor towered over relationships in
its connection with happiness. That factor was work.

The evidence, for example, demonstrates that people who have jobs
distinguished by autonomy, meaning and variety – and who show superior
performance, creativity, and productivity – are significantly happier
than those who don’t. Supervisors are happier than those lower on the
totem pole, and leaders who receive high ratings from their customers
are happier than those with poor ratings.”/

This, and the book “Flow” which I also recently read, gives a nice
framework to explain what I have known intuitively for a long time
(and probably share with many others): That meaningful, challenging
work is not only important, but essential to a life of well-being.

What amazes me that it has an even greater impact than social connections.

For me personally, this is a strategy that can help me lead other
areas of my life. If I have meaningful, challenging work I will be
overall happier, thus attracting more social connections, thus
creating an upward spiral of happiness.

By focusing on where my natural preference for happiness lies (work) I
can, through conscious effort use it to leverage other ares of life
(social).

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