Why You Must Choose Career Happiness

You have lots of control over whether or not you will become happier. According to happiness researchers, it helps to think of a pie chart. I prefer a pizza as my metaphor.

Three-and-a-half slices worth.

That’s how much life satisfaction you can directly control.

If the pizza has eight slices, it’s four slices of heredity (your happiness “set-point), half a slice of life circumstances (stuff that is out of your control) and three-and-a-half slices of intentional choices that you make.

Why choose your own toppings in the pizza of life?

It probably will not come as a surprise to you that happy people are generally more successful and also happier at work, according to many measures. Happy people, for example, are already primed to make and pursue new goals, and are more likely to exhibit adaptive behaviors in the workplace. Leaders like this in others, so happier workers find it easier to both acquire and retain employment.

Positive emotion also protects against job burnout. This is one of the most widely cited reasons that people leave a career, even one they have invested heavily in with extensive time, money and education.  Instead, happy people report higher job satisfaction, which is correlated with staying on the job longer.

Happier workers also are reviewed more favorably by others on less objective measures, or the ones we call soft skills. These include decision-making, interpersonal skills like empathy, and emotional self-regulation. Teaching happiness strategies to workers can even keep them on the job longer.  This is generally better for organizations and their workers, who go on to develop work companionship. That’s a more important reason for going to work than the job is alone, even when accounting for money.

Those interpersonal connections reap even more happiness rewards. As a result, happy workers are more likely to help out others at work, even on tasks unrelated to their jobs, and they are less likely to exhibit withdrawl behaviors such as absenteeism or quitting. They’re sick less often and get better faster when they are unwell.

Would you rather work with a happy person?

Happy coworkers are more likely to

    • be collaborative as opposed to competitive. Imagine teamwork: competing together.
    • be cooperative and therefore less contentious. You’ll get to the job at hand sooner.
    • be optimistic about likely outcomes and therefore are willing to persist at difficult tasks longer.
    • rate coworkers (like you!) more favorably.
    • find mutually beneficial solutions when conflicts do arise.

In other words, your happier coworkers are more likely to exhibit collective efficacy, the belief that the performance ability of the whole group will make it possible to organize resources and execute tasks necessary for success. In businesses, this translates into higher worker engagement, and in school settings it leads to measurably higher student performance.

Positive emotion even increases flexibility and originality of thinking, key elements of the creativity needed for out-of-the-box thinking and leadership.  When you are ready for a new challenge, positivity will help to fuel you.

What must go on your happiness pizza? Researcher Sonya Lyubomirsky offers 12 small research-based ways to add to your Positivity Pizza. You get to try them out to see what works best for you. (Coaching can help if you have trouble getting started.)

  1. Expressing gratitude
  2. Cultivating optimism
  3. Avoiding overthinking and social comparison
  4. Practicing acts of kindness
  5. Nurturing relationships
  6. Developing strategies for coping
  7. Learning to forgive
  8. Doing more activities that truly engage you
  9. Savoring life’s joys
  10. Committing to your goals
  11. Practicing religion and spirituality
  12. Taking care of your body

Those little bites add up. Bon Appetit!


Learn & Flourish coaching offers unique, personalized college and career planning that embeds Positivity; Optimism and resilience; Strengths; Emotional intelligence; Decision-making and change strategies; Goal-setting, Grit and growth mindset; and Engagement and exercise. We call this the POS-EDGE®, and it’s a holistic well-being language and toolkit for your school and career success. Make your appointment here.

Ready to Unleash Your Epic Self? Get your coach in a workbook here.

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