Hard work equals happiness

ENJOY WHAT YOU DO Be active to remain happy

ENJOY WHAT YOU DO Be active to remain happy  

When work is fun, is there a need for a holiday?

The important thing is to remain active. Research shows that the people who were most active got the most joy This is for all those who can't tell if it's day or night, office or home, work or life; who move around like a mobile gadget stand, wired, connected and available; and who believe they have no business to be if they are not being "productive" - completing projects, cornering markets, composing music, choreographing musicals, compéring 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. 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 like "winning a lottery" or "achieving a goal at work" or simply "love" but these, the team said gave a temporary high. Lead researcher Dr. Bengt Bruelde, from the university's philosophy department concluded, "The important thing is to remain active. From our research the people who were most active got the most joy. It may sound tempting to relax on a beach, but if you do it for too long it stops being satisfying." Because of the "habituation effect", the joy of a pay rise or a holiday wore off after a few weeks. Peer groups in the U.K. agreed.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 is it. "Working to achieve a goal, rather than attaining it, makes people more satisfied." The creative process is more challenging than the conclusion. Running is more exhilarating than breasting the tape. Working for a promotion is more gratifying than the cake, handshake and the garland. Wooing is more thrilling than winning the perfect mate. What do you like more? The treasure hunt or the treasure? Hard work, of course, doesn't mean the "motivational" hard work as in "It's hard work sticking to a veggie diet" or "it's hard work convincing the wife I had to meet a client on her birthday".

The mantra for success

And guess what? We started hearing the diktat "work hard" in kindergarten. From both sides of the school experience. 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 2-3 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. Ask those who sign up for the deer count at the Guindy Park. That must be some back-breaking work on a Sunday. "I continue to do this as it has been one of the most rewarding and stimulating experiences I have had," they have said. 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." If work matched one's capability and inclination, she said, "Happiness is not even linked to the rewards that are on offer." But she added, "Relationships can also have a significant impact. Strong relationships whether through family, friends or work can inoculate you against feeling low." 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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