I know that it’s supposed to be everyone’s dream to win the lottery and permanently kick their feet up in some tropical locale — and, admittedly, that doesn’t sound terrible, especially since the offer would likely come with unlimited margaritas. But lately, I’ve noticed an interesting correlation in my life between how much work I do and how happy I feel.
If I’m honest, I’m prone to dilly dallying. I can waste hours online, or just wandering around my apartment, and I’m extremely susceptible to offers like brunch, coffee or a matinee — even when deadlines are looming. But when those unproductive days turn into nights, I often lie awake thinking about what I should have done and kicking myself for not tackling more than a BLT before moving on to a coffee date in the park.
But then there are those days that I actually manage to tick most things off my “to do” list. When I finish an assignment and I’m really proud of it. When I take on those things that I’ve been putting off. I’ve noticed that I feel a lot happier when my head hits the pillow on those days.
Of course, there are all different kinds of happy. Working hard doesn’t induce a euphoric bliss that I get from travel or just the right combination of flavours or a perfectly placed kiss. It’s more a sense of satisfaction, pride and accomplishment. I feel happy with myself when I work hard, and it’s nice to be bolstered by something that doesn’t depend on any external factors. The recognition that you’ve worked hard and done a good job with something is one of the best ways to bolster personal esteem. And it’s all up to me.
Hard work is usually considered a virtue — and I strongly believe that a fair amount of vacation time is also necessary to happiness — but key to this equation is the fact that I really like my work. Years ago, in a boring editorial job at a marketing firm, I didn’t derive any satisfaction or happiness from working hard; I simply wanted to get out of there as soon as possible. I didn’t feel like I contributing anything worthwhile, and I didn’t enjoy the process.
Consider this as a litmus test for the career you’ve chosen: Does working harder at what you do make you more or less happy? And if the answer is less happy, then maybe you could be doing something that makes you a lot happier.