As a corporate worker, I’m one of the lucky ones who get to do something they really enjoy, and something I’ve wanted to do for many years. Some might even say “living the dream”. However when I draw the line at the end of the day, the answer isn’t always “happy”.
As a human being, I’m still searching. And I wonder – am I not fulfilled because, in fact, I’m not doing what I’m supposed to do? Is the “Holy Grail” of my career still out there in the distance?
Or, even worse, maybe I’ve got no clue about what what actually fulfills me?
I’m pretty sure many of you know what I’m talking about.
There are a few things quite important when talking about happiness.
1. First, and foremost, the place where most of our interest goes. Whether it’s clothes, shoes, furniture, homes, travel or the newest gadgets, they all come with MONEY.
It’s clear already – and a demonstrated fact! – that having money doesn’t bring happiness. In fact, there are hundreds (thousands!) of people who earn more than they need, and still feel unhappy, even depressed. Gretchen Rubin says it better than me in her book, and here on her blog:
Money is not a source of happiness (but yes, money does matter in ensuring a certain degree of comfort).
OK, now that money is clearly aside, then there’s the newest school of thought:
2. DOING WHAT YOU LOVE.
I’m sure you’ve heard about the saying “Do what you love and the money will come.”
Ok, what about happiness?
Doing that you love should certainly provide some degree of happiness, right?
Then how do you explain that most hermits live completely alone, in seclusion, don’t actually do much every day, or if they do, it’s regular chores like scrubbing floors or digging the earth, and are still completely happy?
Work may be purifying (“Arbeit macht frei”) or satisfying, or personally rewarding, or meaningful. It can make you feel remarkable, loved, or contributing.
There are even companies who deliver happiness solutions to employees, or articles to empower happiness at work.
But work in itself (read: a great career) is not a condition for happiness, either.
Shawn Achor says that instead of working to be happy, working environments should enable people to be happier in the first place – that’s how they will achieve more in their work.
So happiness is the prerequisite, not work in itself.
3. The third idea is the spiritual school of thought – happiness through love, given or received.
I would tend to kind of agree to this, because it’s clear that love is the main source of positive energy in the world.
I refer here to love not as infatuation, not as the fierce love at the beginning of a relationship, but the deep affection that resides after years of friendship.
Happiness through love is sharing a chocolate. It’s playing boardgames with my friends and not getting upset when the werewolves win again. It’s baking 5 trays of muffins for my birthday. It’s writing on the kitchen board “30 things I love about you.”
And none of the above are received. All are given.
I’ve come to a personal conclusion about fulfillment or happiness.
Happiness comes from the inside, from being who you are and sharing that around.
It does not come from work, which is an external factor. Even if I have a job that I love, if I lose it, I will still be happy, because I can find another fulfilling activity. In fact, if you do what you love, chances are, your self will get eaten by your work. What will remain of who you are, outside of your working activity?
The hint of happiness that can come to those of you/us who do what they love, is because we are able to show more of who we really are, most of the time. We’re able to share the spark inside to the people around. But fulfillment is not the activity in itself – it’s the spark. It’s the sharing.
Once more, I convince myself that the true career I’m pursuing is not the one in the corporate world, it’s the one to my heart.