Workaholics, rejoice, it's now proven that hard work could be the end of that long hunt for ultimate joy

This is for all those who can't tell if it's day or night, office or home, work or life. It's for those who move around like mobile gadgets, are wired, connected and available. And those who believe they have no business to `be' if they are not `productive' - completing projects, cornering markets, composing music, choreographing musicals, compeering shows or championing causes. If you are a certified workaholic, take time off for a treat today. Hard work could be the end of the long hunt for happiness. Hard work makes people happy. There is proof of it now. It is not moderation, but martyrdom that keeps you healthy.According to `BBC News Online', researchers from Gothenburg University in Sweden have been studying published data - hundreds of interviews with people across the world to find out what makes them feel genuinely happy and fulfilled. Of course, there were responses such as "winning a lottery" or "achieving a goal at work" or simply "love." But these, the team said, gave a temporary high.

Staying active

Years ago, writers Charles and Mary Lamb had said something similar. They started poor and as they worked their way up, they wanted to buy a painting they both admired. They pinched every penny for years and finally brought the picture home. They said the effort and the expectation were far more enjoyable than gazing at it on their wall. That's it. Working to achieve a goal, rather than attaining it, makes people more satisfied. The creative process is more challenging than the conclusion. Working for a promotion is more gratifying than the cake, handshake and the garland. Wooing is more thrilling than winning the perfect mate. We started hearing the diktat `work hard' in kindergarten. Mom and teacher, if you remember, had the same, limited vocabulary of two words. Praise or punishment, the mantra was the same. "Success is not just about how smart or strong you are, it has a lot to do with how much time and effort you put into a task." Sounds familiar? And what did dad say when you left home on your first job? Slack away? Naah. Scores of volunteers across the world would rather spend their two to three weeks off every year working with NGOs than wading in the waters of a remote beach or keeping pace with a glib-talking guide around a monument. The compensation for their work? Happiness. But be warned of the small print in this prescription for lasting pleasure. According to Averil Leimon of the British Psychological Society: "Hard work is satisfying, but only if it suits you. The work has to use a person's strengths, otherwise it can be demoralising." And most important, see that you soak in that happiness before hard work kills you. S. Krishnaswamy, project consultant, is surprised that the topic is even being discussed. He says: "There are famous lines in the Bhagavad Gita that say doing what you need to do is its own reward. Do it without worrying about the fruit of your labour." Is that his happiness quotient? "Look, I do go on holidays. The meaningful work I do 24/7 makes it worthwhile. Prolonged holidays can only get boring."When you're busy you feel wanted. Your self-esteem gets a leg-up. Enjoy what you do, work without cribbing. When work is fun, why do you need a holiday?"GEETA PADMANABHAN

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