Embrace Joy Chapter 13


Job Satisfaction

We have all heard our share of complaints about the responsibilities of the working world. But being engaged in a satisfying profession, caring for family members, or doing meaningful volunteer work make a real difference in your sense of well-being. What is it about having meaningful day-to-day responsibilities that improves our lives?

PART 1

You Need Your Job

No matter what your day-to-day responsibilities are, your work is what you spend most of your time doing. Because your occupation consumes so much of your life, it's clearly a place where being happy matters very much. And yet, when asked “Do you like what you do each day?” only 20% of respondents answer with a strong “yes,” according to the Gallup Healthways Wellbeing Survey. READ MORE

When we lose a job unexpectedly, it is difficult to recover from the loss. A 2008 study published in The Economic Journal shows that unemployment is one life event from which a person may not recover his or her well-being within 5 years. Of course, people have varying levels of resilience, and some recover within a year. Perhaps some of those 80% who are not very happy with their jobs would embrace an opportunity to look for a new one! But on average, people were found to recover more quickly from the loss of a spouse than from the loss of a job. LESS
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PART 2

Rewards of a Job Well Done

The workplace is where we are rewarded for our skills and effort. The process of setting a goal and reaching it engages a pleasure pathway in your brain, much as other rewarding behaviors do. One important component of doing well at your job is being compensated with money. READ MORE

Neuroscientist Brian Knutson of Stanford University monitored the brains of test subjects anticipating a reward. His research subjects played a video game while researchers monitored their brain activity via functional magnetic resonance imagining (fMRI). Winning the game resulted in a small cash payoff. When the game was nearing a successful finish, so that the player knew he or she would receive the money, activity picked up in the brain's nucleus accumbens. The nucleus accumbens, near the bottom of the brain, is part of the rewards pathway involved in processing responses to food, sex and other pleasurable experiences. What Knutson found is that the anticipation of receiving the money—and not the reward itself—resulted in positive feelings. Put simply, it seems that successful work is its own reward. LESS
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PART 3

A Good Job Can Make us Healthy

Finding a job that draws on our strengths and allows us to accomplish our goals is not just good for our mood, it's good for our health. A Gallup study tracked workers for 2 years, assessing whether each one was highly engaged at work, or not. The researchers found that those who reported becoming more engaged at work during the time of the study also had significantly lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels by the end of the study. Also, people who felt disengaged with their careers, not enjoying each work day and watching the clock until quitting time, were nearly twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression during the study than the highly engaged research subjects. READ MORE

Researchers have known for decades that being engaged at work can prolong your life. In a 1958 study, in-depth interviews with Americans aged 95 and older revealed that most of the workers did not retire until they were 80 years old, on average. Most said it was because they had fun at their jobs and, 93% reported high satisfaction with their work. LESS
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