Is Happiness at Work Essential?

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I've researched natural ways of achieving health and balance for over 15 years. I first noticed the need for balance in high school when I had a job at the National Processing Corporation. It was good pay and a good addition to my resume. Unfortunately, the cubes, the lights, the ringing phones, and the lack of sunshine and fresh air left me miserable. I felt like a rat in a cage.

I knew I would slowly suffocate there. So I left the reliable job to work at a local gas station. The pay wasn't great, my boss was a jerk, the gas fumes not much better than canned air, but I was outside, I was getting exercise, and although I didn't have much of a chance to be creative, I learned how to deal with new and unexpected situations. In college I succumbed to reliable, good paying office work again. I built a great resume, was a valued employee, maximized output, and was utterly miserable. My mind and my body were stressed, I was constantly sick, and I was unhappy. After a decade in the corporate world, I knew I needed to find balance in my life. Making the change to freelancing didn't come easy. There were issues with health insurance, uncertainty about pay, and the unending concern of motivation and procrastination (my two biggest enemies). The changeover took almost three years.

Despite the struggles, if there has been one all-natural, alternative change I've made that has improved my health, it has been leaving a career that made me unhappy for one that did. Today I can honor my natural biological clock by working in the evenings instead of waking up early. I can work outside if I'd like. I can watch my 1 year old grow and learn. I can take a walk to improve my mood, my back, or my creativity. These concerns aren't important to everyone, but they are important to me.

I re-learned what I knew back in high school while I was working at the gas station–sometimes comforts such as money and reliability and resumes aren't worth the impact a miserable job can wreak on your health.

That's not to say my 10 years in corporate was a wasted effort. Without that income and experience I wouldn't have a home to write in, and I might have allowed the trials of working as a freelancer to send me back to a more reliable job.

When someone tells me that they're miserable, stressed, sick all the time, and then talk about how much they hate their job, I ask them to reconsider how important their hours, their pay, their career is to their health and the health of their family. The thought of making a lateral or downward move on the career ladder understandably comes with resistance, but allowing yourself to think about what might bring balance to your health and happiness is a good step in the right direction.

After all, I had always known that I wanted to share my experience in life with others through my writing. And that's why I'm here today.


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