Do You Have a Job, a Career or a Vocation? Or…Science’s Lessons for Putting “Meaning” Into “Work”

Feb 14, 11 Do You Have a Job, a Career or a Vocation? Or…Science’s Lessons for Putting “Meaning” Into “Work”

Posted by in Books, Psychology

Alexandra works in an office every day, from Monday to Friday, 9 to 5. Her first and foremost motivation is to earn enough money to be able to “live” after work – she uses her income to finance her hobby, painting, and to afford small joys – like going out with her friends, short weekend trips to the mountains and, once a year, a holiday abroad. If money were not a problem, she’d change jobs in an instant and do something different. To her, work is a necessity of life, like eating or sleeping, only less pleasant. She feels as if she pays a daily 8 hour fee in exchange for freedom after 5 pm. Alex is happiest on Fridays because the weekend is coming, and hates almost nothing more than the sound of the alarm clock on Monday mornings, announcing the beginning of another week. Diana enjoys her work, but doesn’t expect to do the same job a few years from now. Then she will definitely be higher up the corporate ladder, in a better paid position. She has clear objectives for her future and knows exactly what her next professional step will be. Even though sometimes her day to day work feels like a waste of time, the hope for promotion keeps her going. To her, being promoted is the ultimate recognition of her value and victory over the colleagues with whom she is competing. For Anna, work is a natural part of life. In fact, if you asked her, she’d tell you she’s not working, but is lucky enough to be paid for doing what she likes best. To her, there is no clear separation between work and leisure – the two make up a harmonious whole – and many of her friends are also colleagues at work. She would never conceive changing her profession, because it represents her and she honestly believes that what she does for a living actually has meaning and makes the world a better place. So…which...

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What’s the Connection between a Rider, an Elephant, New Year’s Resolutions and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part 2

Jan 06, 11 What’s the Connection between a Rider, an Elephant, New Year’s Resolutions and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part 2

Posted by in Books

I ended my last post promising I’ll write more about the role of the Elephant and the Rider in achieving happiness and here it is. Jonathan Haidt puts forth a very interesting hypothesis about what happiness is: H=S+C+V. That’s right! But don’t be scared if it doesn’t make much sense just yet – it’ll all get clearer in a minute. To explain this formula we need to invite another scientific actor on stage – enter Martin Seligman, the father of “positive psychology”, one of the newest and, to my mind, greatest branches of psychology, the one part of psychology which doesn’t deal with pathology and doesn’t analyze the many ways in which we are, if I may say so, screwed up. Instead, positive psychology is concerned with the many ways in which we are wonderful beings, full of potential and it’s main objective is to research how people can achieve that great potential that they all have inside. In case you’re wondering what that has to do with happiness, the fact is that happiness lies at the core of the research in positive psychology. The formula I was mentioning before stems from positive psychology and can be translated as: Happiness (H)= Biological Set Point (S)+ Conditions of your life (C)+ Voluntary activities (V) Let’s take these three parts of the equation and explain them in short: Biological Set Point (S) – there is significant research (much of it done on identical twins raised apart) indicating that we are all born with a genetic predisposition to a set range of happiness. In other words, if happiness is a thermostat with a range from 0 to 100, some people can only take theirs from 0 to 20, others have a set range of between 20-60 and some lucky ones between 60-100.  Now if you are naturally a happy person, you might say that you’ve won the happiness lottery – you’ll find it much easier to be happy. For those of you whose thermostat is in the...

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