Tag Archives: Happiness

Do You Have a Job, a Career, or a Calling?

BY

Your answer to this question is crucial.

It can determine whether or not your life’s work is contributing to you living to your full potential. In his book Springboard, Wharton School Professor G. Richard Shell argues that this question is essential to finding personal meaning and satisfaction. And that’s not as simple as most people think.

To illustrate, imagine three people who have been working hard for several years — Alex, Ben, and Catherine.

  • Alex has a job he does for the paycheck. He clocks in for the hours he’s supposed to, and he puts in the minimum effort to get the job done. Sure, he might perform relatively well in his role, or he might go through the motions of socializing with the people he works with, but he can’t help feeling like a cog in a machine. He puts up with it though, as he’s motivated by the security that comes with having a stable job and a steady paycheck. He doesn’t view his job as much more than a chore. ‘Life’ is what happens when he gets home after work and picks up his guitar, or on weekends when he can spend time with his partner. He is always wishing that it’s Friday already, and he dreads Monday mornings.
  • Ben feels dedication and loyalty towards his career, and to an extent, his employer too. He sees himself progressing in his defined role, towards more status and responsibility. His pride in his job is apparent in how he introduces himself to others at parties: he says his name and what he does. He has spent countless hours building up his skills and knowledge within his field. He envisions himself in his manager’s position on a daily basis, and then progressing to his manager’s manager’s position, and so on. He works hard because he wants to be better, and sometimes he does things he doesn’t want to do, like work long hours, so that he can reach the ‘ideal’ future he envisions for himself.
  • Catherine wouldn’t call what she does ‘work.’ She feels lucky to have found her calling, and to get paid for it too. She’s keen to get out of bed every morning, excited about what the day will bring. She genuinely feels that she is making a difference. There’s hardly such a thing as a holiday, because she just works whatever hours she feels like to get the job done, motivated by the knowledge that what she’s doing is worthwhile. She is able to express herself though her work — using that creative spark she’s had since she was a child. She spends every day in alignment with her values, which include serving the community, even in her own little way. Instead of a cog in a machine, she feels like she is the machine.

Who do you identify most with?

Notice that there isn’t any mention of each person’s pay or profession. Research conducted by Yale University Professor Amy Wrzesniewski showed that most randomly selected groups divide themselves up almost exactly into thirds, no matter what they do, or how much they are paid. Indeed, some people from exactly the same workplace felt differently about the same job. It’s not always so clear-cut.

For example, Ben could be a trainee lawyer who feels like he has his whole career ahead of him. He’s only worked for two years, and has shown promise. Maybe he’ll make partner one day, if he just works hard enough. He’s proud of his profession, even though the hours exhaust him. He would say that his career is his priority right now. His best friend in the next cubicle feels differently. He finds the work tedious and pointless.

Catherine could be a doctor working in a ward that is always full of sick children. She works long hours, sometimes with only a few hours of sleep, but it’s worth it if she gets to save lives. She can’t imagine doing anything else. It’s her calling. Yes, she earns a fair amount, but it’s not the money that’s most important to her. Last night, she was bonding with her best friend Karen about how much they love their jobs. Karen is an administrator for the local government.

You might imagine that most people on lower incomes would consider themselves as just having a ‘job,’ but down the hallway from Catherine the doctor, the janitor finishes up cleaning the floor. Nobody really pays attention to him, but if they did, they would hear him humming away happily. Even though his job can be tiring at times, he loves it because the ward needs to stay clean so that the doctors can properly do their jobs, and the janitor gets to do his part in saving lives. It’s his calling too.

In fact, people can feel differently about their work at different times in their lives, and their perceptions can shift over time as their personal lives change and they seek different goals than when they first started in a job. Ben could focus on his law career for 10 years, and then realize that he has sacrificed a lot for the sake of it. He loses sight of why he wanted to be a lawyer in the first place, and over the years his career has become just a job to him. Now he’s just doing it because he doesn’t know anything else, and the money is good, but perhaps there are more important things in life than living hard and fast. He’ll be looking for his calling soon.

It’s not easy to work out whether you have a job, a career, or a calling. Things that matter to you now might not matter as much later, and vice-versa. In the long run, only you will know what is right for you. If you’re lucky enough to find your calling — work that you enjoy and that can support you financially — then you are better than two-thirds of the people in the workforce. And you’re well on your way to finding success and happiness.

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What I Learn About Happiness

There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will.” – Epictetus

3 Secrets to Happiness

By Craig Ballantyne
One morning, a friend called me in distress about her relationship with her boyfriend. There was one misunderstanding after another, and now they weren’t talking. After 20 minutes we worked out a plan and I’ll share it below. But it got me thinking about how easy it is for us to slip from what I call, The Simple & Happy Life Plan.

The source of this plan, one that has made me happier and less stressed than any other resource, is called, The Art Of Living.

It’s a series of short lessons translated from the ancient Stoic philosopher, Epictetus, and it gave me the 3-C Formula for life:

  • Control what you can

  • Cope with what you can’t

  • Concentrate on what counts

I take this to mean:

  • You can only control your thoughts, words and deeds. What you say, how you think, and what you do can make a situation better or worse, so choose wisely

  • You can’t control other people or their moods, or the weather, or traffic. That means we must be prepared to cope with the wild and wacky ups-and-downs of friends, family, and yes, even the weather. Always remember: You control your reaction. You can raise your voice, or you can be calm. It’s your choice.)

  • You must concentrate on what counts. Focus on what really matters in life, not the things that won’t matter in 3 months, 3 weeks, 3 days, or 3 hours from now.

But wait, what really matters?

The answer, according to science from Harvard University, is that we must focus our time and energy on people and experiences — these two things matter more than anything else in life when it comes to our happiness.

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In a study that started all the way back in 1938, and has since tracked over 700 people (including JFK!), if you want to be happy, don’t chase money or fame. Instead, spend more time with others that you love.

The most important factor in happiness, long-term health, and wellbeing is:

The strength of your relationships with your family, friends, and spouse.

The study has also led to other interesting findings such as:

  • The #1 thing you can do for your health is to avoid smoking.

  • Alcohol was the primary cause of divorce.

  • Alcohol abuse often precedes depression.

But most importantly…

“The people in the strongest relationships were protected against chronic disease, mental illness and memory decline — even if the relationships had ups and downs. Those good relationships don’t have to be smooth all the time,” said Dr. Robert Waldinger, the current leader of the research study.

“Some of our octogenarian couples could bicker day in and day out. But as long as they felt that they could really count on the other when the going got tough, those arguments didn’t take a toll on their memories.”

So what does the Harvard study suggest we do?

Well, it’s the same sort of plan I gave my friend to help her relationship… (yep, I’m a regular ol’ Dr. Phil here, ha!)

The Plan for My Friend to Regain Her Happiness & Relationship

  1. Stop trying to have the difficult conversations via email. You must talk things through face-to-face. When he gets home tonight, go for a walk. We communicate — and understand one another — better in person, especially when the conversations are difficult.

  2. Once you sort out the issue, do something new together. The Harvard study recommends livening up stale relationships with long walks or date nights. My good friends, Bedros and Di Keuilian, go out every Tuesday for a date night. It’s one of the foundations of their strong marriage.

  3. Don’t ignore conflict. The old saying about “Never go to bed mad” is great advice that stands the test of time. This goes for family relationships, too. According to the Harvard study, we should “reach out to the family member we haven’t spoken to in years — because those family feuds take a terrible toll on the people who hold the grudges.”

No one’s perfect, myself included, and we won’t ever live a life free of conflict, but as long as we work to strengthen the relationships with our loved ones, and focus on people and experiences, we’ll live a long, satisfied, and healthy life.

That’s what it’s about, not money in the bank, job titles, or hours spent at work.

About the Author: Craig Ballantyne is the editor of Early to Rise (Join him on Facebook here) and author of The Perfect Day Formula. His straightforward, sometimes “politically-incorrect” advice has helped millions of people transform their lives both physically and financially. Craig’s secret weapons for success include his personal commandments, his 5 pillars, and his Perfect Life vision. Click here to learn more about how you can implement his 3 secrets to success and live your Perfect Days.