Career Balance: People Are Happiest When Working?

work life balanceA couple of weeks ago, one of my friends – who is a full-time recruiter – was telling me that studies show that people are happiest when they’re working, especially when it’s something they care about.

I definitely agree with this idea.  Call me a nerd, but I often feel extremely happy while working towards something and after I’ve accomplished that task, project, or goal.  And when you look around and see almost everyone working towards something – a goal or self-improvement or creating something – it starts to makes sense that various types of “work” are what makes us happiest.

For me, a great example of work creating happiness is Blonde & Balanced.  I love B&B dearly.  It brings me a lot of happiness, but it’s definitely work.  However, if I could, I would probably spend 80 hours a week blogging, writing, social media-ing (is that a word yet?), and connecting with others.  Blogging is work and it’s work that makes me extremely happy – a close second behind family and friends.

I think the theory even holds true for chores like cleaning.  Although G and I procrastinate on cleaning days, once we get started, we are seriously in it to win it.  You can’t even break us from our cleaning zone once we’ve started.  And after we’re done, we marvel for days about our clean house and how happy it makes us.

If the work/happiness concept is true, it’s no wonder we’re all striving to find our perfect job, the perfect work balance – because we’re happiest when we’re working hard at something we love.  I know I am.

And, by the way, if you’re wondering about the study, I actually looked it up.  A psychology professor named Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (say that three times fast) has spent a lot of time studying the topic.  He claims that people are happiness when they’re in a state of “flow” and working is something that provides that “flow”.  Interesting, huh?

Do you think work brings happiness?  Does your work (full-time, part-time, hobby, etc.) bring you happiness?


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  • I think you are right. I don’t think not working is the answer. Yahoo had an article yesterday about how Americans are happiest on the weekends. We might be happy to have the time off, but we would go crazy if it was that way every day. Work provides us an outlet for our passions and desires. We work because we want to be a part of something in the world, and make a difference. My job currently does not provide me much happiness, but I think it will be a stepping stone to future happiness.

    • I know I went a little crazy on my honeymoon just lounging for 2 weeks. By the 2nd week, we had to start picking up activities — tennis, biking, various tours, etc. I think we’re happiest when we’re engaged, and if you’re engaged in your work, then I think you’re happy. But … a little lounging after a good amount of work is always enjoyable, too. 🙂

  • I think I like the social interaction of work but I would much rather be traveling or doing something….. different. I guess if I was passionate about my job, REALLY passionate about my job then it could potentially make me happy. But for now my mind keeps wandering to bigger and better things that don’t really include working. Well at least not in the US. I am a crazy one though! 🙂

    • Ohh, I’ll be interested to read about your adventures on your blog if you do end up taking that leap! 🙂

  • Hi! I always wonder if I turned a hobby into something that made money, if I’d like it as much? Meaning if it paid me enough money to support myself. To your point, I think that when we’re working towards something that we enjoy, regardless if it pays us money, that’s what makes us happy, the feeling of getting stuff done. Not “work,” aka your job, in the traditional sense.

  • I think it’s definitely true, work can bring happiness as long as you do what you love the most. That way it’s doesn’t feel like work at all. I definitely love working and staying busy, because there was a time in my life where I didn’t work for 2 years and I was extremely depressed, I didn’t know what to do with my self.
    I also have a tendency to work too much without realizing that’s it’s taking a huge toll on me, then I crash. So it’s good to have balance :).

  • Hmm, while I enjoy my work, I think the perfect balance would be working maybe 25 hours a week. But it’s really the simple things outside of the office that bring me the most happiness: travel, reading, baking.

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