Friday, December 27, 2013

New York Times: Work Makes you Happy

A New York Times Opinion by Arthur C. Brooks called "A Formula for Happiness" discusses the contribution work can make toward happineess.  The author believes that happiness is determined by genes, life circumstance and work.

About 48% of your happiness is determine by your inherited traits.

About 40% is short and medium term rewards such as buying stuff, family events, or graduating high school. The effect wears off quickly.

The remaining 12% are discrenary activities that include faith, family, freinds and work.  Friends and family are obvious, but work is the most interesting. Meaningful and fulfilling work can deliver personal happiness and financial reward.

The American Enterprise Institute calls this happiness effect "Earned Success".  The times editorial is light on the AEI philosopy but you can get a bigger dose on YouTube. Arthur Brooks: The secret to happiness.

The video on youtube discusses happiness and the it's AEI pro entrepreneurship (pro business) philosophy. The AEI promotes free enterprise as a "moral goal."

Here is another reseacher, Dan Gilbert talking about synthentic versus real happiness. Ted Talks: Dan Gilbert, the surprising science of happiness.

There are two issues we have with the reseach: 1) The low value given to work as a generator of happiness, 2) second is the twist the American Enterprise Insititue gives the reseach at the end to support their position.

First, we can't believe work contributes only part of the overal all 12% happiness.  For many of us the work is also closely entertwined with self esteem, financial empowerment and health.

Second, the reseach all makes sense up until when the AEI tries to slip in it's economic message.  Work has a value above it's financial return. Work in all forms is valuable: private, public and non-profit.

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