Why the Happiest People Have the Hardest Jobs

Posted on 04/18/2013

Fast Company: “The happiest people I know are dedicated to dealing with the most difficult problems,” Rosabeth Moss Kanter writes for HBR. Whether reversing schools’ struggles, making unsafe water potable, or helping the terminally ill, “they face the seemingly worst of the world with a conviction that they can do something about it and serve others.” Kanter pulls in a number of anecdotes, including that of her friend, the Pulitzer Prize-winner Ellen Goodman. Upset by the care her dying mother received, Goodman left her syndicated columnist gig to start The Conversation Project, which aims to get every family to talk about death and end-of-life care. While Kanter doesn’t quote Goodman in the piece, we can infer that Goodman is doing emotionally fulfilling work–which, as positive psychology tells us, is a key to enduring happiness, as opposed to the fleeting nature of pleasure.

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