The Research We’ve Ignored about Happiness at Work

Being happy is of course a good thing, but the correlation between happiness and productivity is still uncertain. In an article for Harvard Business Review, André Spicer and Carl Cederström discuss how our attitudes toward happiness could be self-sabotaging. In fact, whether calling it “happiness” or simply “job satisfaction,” the data is ambiguous.

The authors claim that the research on the subject offers contradictory results, where sometimes job satisfaction increases productivity and sometimes being miserable inadvertently improves profits. Furthermore, pursuing happiness can be “exhausting.” When happiness is explicitly emphasized as something people should strive for, the notion goes to the forefront of their minds and they become frustrated when they cannot obtain it. In other words, happiness needs to just be something that happens to someone in order for it to be effective; actively chasing after it could have the opposite intended effect.

The authors go on to explain several other ways that so-called “happiness” can impede work, but my issue with some of their views is that they often treat “happiness” and “in a good mood at that particular moment” as synonyms. It further muddles what is already an awfully muddled data set. Nonetheless, you can view the full article here:

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