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The Happiest People Pursue the Most Difficult Problems

Posted on 04/10/2013

Harvard Business Review: Lurking behind the question of jobs — whether there are enough of them, how hard we should work at them, and what kind the future will bring — is a major problem of job engagement. Too many people are tuned out, turned off, or ready to leave. But there’s one striking exception.

The happiest people I know are dedicated to dealing with the most difficult problems. Turning around inner city schools. Finding solutions to homelessness or unsafe drinking water. Supporting children with terminal illnesses. They face the seemingly worst of the world with a conviction that they can do something about it and serve others.

Ellen Goodman, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist (and long-time friend), has turned grief to social purpose. She was distraught over the treatment of her dying mother. After leaving her job as a syndicated columnist, she founded The Conversation Project, a campaign to get every family to face the difficult task of talking about death and end-of-life care.

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