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  Category: Articles » Careers & Jobs » Employment » Article

Does Your Work Make You Happy?

By Keith Lee

What is the real difference between "work" and "a job"? You labor at both of them. You could make money at both of them. But there's a real difference! A job only pays the rent. After that, it might have no further meaning to you. But your life's work feels worth doing. It's all meaning, whether it makes money or not.

"Meaning" is a very big word, a lot tougher to unpack than "job" or even "work." Let's take a little time to talk about it.

What do you think makes work meaningful? Do you want your work to be meaningful like Mother Teresa's work with lepers? Or Einstein's theory of relativity? Will you save the world from destruction or create an illuminating work of art? Or do you have to make millions of dollars? Inside most of us is the feeling that truly meaningful work has to be on a giant scale, or has to lead to a kind of worldly "greatness," like an Olympic medal. You need to find out what kinds of thoughts come into your mind about that phrase "meaningful work."

Take out a piece of paper and write down as much as you can about what you think the world calls "meaningful work," If you wish, name some people whose lives seem especially significant and explain why you think so. Ask yourself what makes work really worthy? Don't worry if anyone else would agree with you. You can't make a mistake here. Now read what you've written. Do your thoughts resemble this?

"Meaningful work has to do some good in this world. It has to help mankind in some way." Or this: "To be meaningful your efforts have to make a splash. You have to be successful. No matter what the field." Or: "I think people who have meaningful work are totally driven. They can't eat or sleep because they have discovered something, like Columbus, or Newton, or they have a huge vision, like Beethoven." Or: "Well, I think the world finds it meaningful to do your best: have a family and a home and a good job. Be a pillar of the community."

If you're one of those people who thinks you have no problem with meaningful work, that you'd be thrilled if you could find anything to make yourself happy, don't be so sure. Every time you worry that you could get trapped in some kind of work you don't care about, you're dealing with the problem of meaningfulness. I guarantee that in the back of your mind is the thought that somehow you have to make a contribution to something, be acknowledged, do something that matters - or you're just fooling around.

About the Author
Keith Lee is a Motivational Speaker and a Life Coach for more than 10 years.
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