A Paycheck Or Happiness? The Sad Truth

Dr. Purushothaman
October 3, 2013

How would you prefer to be paid for your work? Would you prefer cash or happiness? Remember, you can’t have both so you will have to make a choice here. And don’t delude yourself into thinking that when you get paid money for working, that happiness is a by-product. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The fact of the matter is that over a lifetime, employees have been sold a “bill of goods” from friends, family, society, the media and even their employers that when an employee finds the perfect job, then they will be happy. More and more organizations are doing what they can to provide a productive and positive working environment for their employees but not once has any company installed a happiness bar (think juice-bar). You don’t dispense happiness from a tap.

Whether in sales, customer service, management, a staff meeting or in safety, there are two choices that can be made on a daily basis with each and every human interaction: to be right or to be happy. But you can’t be both. Although for some, the thought of being right “makes” them very happy. That is not happiness. Happiness is not the end result of making someone else wrong and in order to be right, someone must be made wrong.

Admit it; there is little if no happiness in your job. Feel free to picture the vast majority of your co-workers to evidence that fact. Just look around at the long, tired, exhausted faces of your workmates to see the proof for yourself. Why would you think that happiness can be attained at work? It can’t be attained at work because it doesn’t exist at work. That’s because happiness is not a result. It’s a choice.

To explain that happiness is simply a choice, picture the following. You’re driving down a busy highway in the morning on your way to work when suddenly someone cuts you off in traffic. At this point you have a couple of choices don’t you? One is to let it all go. The other choice, unfortunately, is the one we see being made with increasing frequency: giving the finger, honking horns, or trying to cut them off. Then you get to work and tell eighteen people about the jerk on the road that cut you off today. Then you get home and say, “I had a bad day.” And yes you did have a bad day – by choice. You have the choice to feel angry, mad, upset, disillusioned, devalued, taken advantage of and yes, even happy.

You see, like every simple choice in life, happiness is a choice too. Holding a door open for someone is a choice. Saying “good morning” to someone is a choice. Getting a cup of coffee for someone else is a choice and being happy is a choice. The truth is that if you bring happiness with you to work, then you are more likely to bring happiness home at the end of the day.

Happiness is not a result of anything you do. It is simply a choice. So never try to find happiness in your work. You won’t find it there. It’s not an end-result. You may find satisfaction. You may find joy. You may find comfort. You may find a peace of mind but that’s not happiness.

Happiness is not a new car, a new home, losing thirty pounds, getting an erection, getting a new outfit, buying yourself toys or finding the perfect spouse. People get these things and are still miserable. As a matter of fact, although wealthy people may be more comfortable, many are still not happy. Trying to find happiness in a certain dollar figure is a recipe for disappointment.

If you’re waiting for happiness to be found in your job, your relationships, in a certain amount of money or in retirement, you will have spent your working life attempting to attain something that was unattainable. If you’re sixty-five years old and not happy, you’re not going to start being happy now. You’re still going to be the same miserable person you always were with no job to go to.

Just choose to be happy and grateful for what you have right now. It’s where you need to be on your way to where you are headed. The choice to be victimized by your own choices or to view them as a learning opportunity is simply a matter of attitude. You can be happy or you can whine. I know that you, like me, get tired of people whining about their jobs. But people blame their jobs, their lack of success, their lack of finances, and their lack of opportunities for their lack of happiness.

As an author and keynote speaker, I consult with a lot of different organizations and businesses. In all my time of visiting workplaces, conference centers, hotel meeting rooms, and job sites, I have yet to see a white panel van pull up in front of a business, dump a body out on the sidewalk with hands bound behind their back, a blindfold over their eyes and a gag over their mouths. People show up willingly to work. No one forces them to go. But many treat their jobs like they’re being forced to be there. Try this strategy if this is you: quit right now. You’re making it miserable for the people you work with and they will despise you for it.

Happiness is a choice, not a result. It’s a matter of attitude and how you wish to view the concept of happiness. Your current attitude has gotten you your current results. The world doesn’t stop because you’re miserable. This life is yours. You’d better get out front and start leading your own life if you ever want things to be better. You will get what you give. Be happy first. It comes back to you.


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