May 23, 2011

Kings, Jacks and Noblemen: For the doubting Tom

Money and Happiness: We Do the Math

Experts agree that a lifetime spent chasing the almighty dollar rarely raises Subjective-Well-Being (SWB). Research by Ronald Inglehart, PhD, found that once middle-class comforts are in place, the link between the two "is surprisingly weak (indeed, virtually negligible)."

"The first 40 grand makes a dramatic difference, but after basic needs are met, the next 10 million does almost nothing."

"The jury's been in for a while," says R. Adam Engle, whose Mind and Life Institute sponsored the recent conference between the Dalai Lama and a group of top scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology on the subject of Buddhism and its relation to how the mind works. "We can't hang on to the idea that if we get more stuff we'll be happier."

Oh, you want more, do ya?
In his recent book, The Art of Happiness at Work, coauthored with the Dalai Lama, psychiatrist Howard Cutler, MD, reports three basic approaches to work, whatever the profession. "People tend to see work as a job, a career, or a calling," he tells me from his Phoenix office. In the job approach, work is seen as a means to an end (money), offering no other reward. Career-minded folk have a deeper personal investment in their profession, marking achievements not only through monetary gain but through advancement within their chosen field. Finally, those who view their work as a calling show passionate commitment to "work for its own sake," focusing as much on fulfillment—human relationships, how what they do affects the world—as on monetary gain.

In 1997 Amy Wrzesniewski, PhD, who is now an assistant professor of management and organizational behavior at New York University's Stern School of Business, coauthored an important study of people in various occupations, from so-called menial to high-level professional. The reported levels of SWB were consistent with the approach each individual took toward his or her work. Those subjects who felt it was a calling had "significantly higher" SWB than those who saw it as a job or a career.

And you know the best part? I found this article, after I finished Part 3 of this post. I feel vindicated.

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The Pious Hippie by Ms. Pious Hippie is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.