What makes us happy might surprise you


Finding the right work-life balance is by no means a new issue in our society. But the tension between the two has been exacerbated by recent events, with workers increasingly focusing on the nature of their work, his meaning and purpose, and how these affect their quality of life.

Studies suggest that people are leave or intend to leave their employers in record numbers in 2021 – a “big resignationWhich seems to have been precipitated by these reflections. But if we all reconsider where and how work fits into our lives, what should we be aiming for?

It’s easy to believe that if only we didn’t need to work, or if we could work much fewer hours, we would be happier, living a life of hedonic experiences in all their ways. healthy and unhealthy shapes. But that does not explain why some retirees find freelance jobs and some lottery winners go straight back to work.

Finding the perfect work-life balance, if it exists, doesn’t necessarily mean changing when, where and how we work – it’s about why we work. And that means understanding sources of happiness that may not be so obvious to us, but which have crept into our sight throughout the past year.

Attempts to find a better work-life balance are well deserved. Work is constantly and positively linked to our well-being and constitutes a large part of our identity. Ask yourself who you are, and very soon you will be resorting to the description of what you do for the job.

Our jobs can give us a feeling of competence which contributes to well-being. Researchers demonstrated not only that the work leads to validation, but that when these feelings are threatened, we are particularly attracted by activities that require effort – often a form of work – because they demonstrate our ability to shape our environment, confirming our identity as competent individuals.

Work even seems to make us happier in circumstances where we would rather opt for leisure. This has been demonstrated by a series of smart experiences in which participants had the option of being inactive (waiting 15 minutes in a room for a survey to begin) or busy (walking 15 minutes to another location to participate in an experiment). Very few participants chose to be active unless they were forced to take the walk or given a reason (they were told there was chocolate in the other place).

Still, the researchers found that those who spent 15 minutes walking were much happier than those who spent 15 minutes waiting, regardless of whether they had a choice of chocolate or none. In other words, being busy contributes to happiness even when you think you’d rather be inactive. Animals seem to understand this instinctively: in experiments, most would instead of work for food than to get it for free.

1: Eudaïmonic happiness

Closely related to the psychological concept of eudaimonic happiness. It’s the kind of happiness we get from functioning optimally and reaching our potential. Research has shown that work and effort are at the heart of eudaimonic happiness, explaining that satisfaction and pride you feel at the idea of ​​accomplishing a grueling task.

2: Hedonistic happiness

On the other side of work-life balance is hedonic happiness, defined as the presence of positive feelings such as cheerfulness and the relative paucity of negative emotions such as sadness or anger. We know that hedonic happiness offers practical mental and physical benefits health benefits and that leisure is a great way to pursue hedonic happiness.

3: Experiential fulfillment

But even in the field of leisure, our unconscious orientation towards activity lurks in the background. A recent study suggested that there is such a thing as too much free time – and that our subjective well-being begins to decline if we have more than five hours of it in a day. Spending effortless days at the beach doesn’t seem like the key to long-term happiness.

This could explain why some people prefer to put in a lot of effort in their free time. The researchers likened this to compiling a Experiential CV, sampling unique but potentially unpleasant or even painful experiences – at extremes, this can be spending a night in an ice hotel or participating in an endurance race in the desert.

People who participate in these forms of “leisure” usually talks about achieving personal goals, making progress, and accumulating accomplishments – all hallmarks of eudaimonic happiness, not the hedonism we associate with leisure.

The real balance

This focus fits well with a new concept in the field of wellness studies: that rich and diverse experiential happiness is the third component of a “good life”, in addition to hedonic and eudemonic happiness.

Across nine countries and tens of thousands of participants, researchers recently discovered that most people (over 50 percent in each country) would still prefer a happy life characterized by hedonic happiness. But about a quarter prefer a meaningful life embodied in eudemonic joy, and a small number of people (around 10-15% in each country) choose to lead rich and diverse experiential lives.

Considering these different approaches to life, perhaps the key to lasting well-being is determining which lifestyle is right for you: hedonic, eudaïmonic, or experiential. Rather than turning work against life, the natural balance to be found after 2020 lies between these three sources of happiness.

This article was originally published on The conversation by Lis Ku at De Montfort University. Read it original article here.

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