How To Be Happy? The Only Justice in the World.

Updated on January 18th, 2024

August 7th 2020

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This text was fully written by humans.


  • This article lists a few key findings from the last few decades of research on what determines happiness.

  • Meaningful relations with people and sense of purpose are the key ingredients to happiness.

  • As humans, we have the ability to foster happiness by actively reinterpreting what happens to us.

  • In the famous Dunedin study, self-discipline turned out to be the best predictor of life success.

How To Be Happy in Professional Life?

In general, this world is not just. Some people are born wealthier than others. Others are born prettier than others. Some people naturally have more energy than others. Others learn faster than others. Some people receive more recognition and appreciation for their work than others.

But, there is one thing just for all. That one just thing is that none of the factors mentioned above substantially influences how happy you are or for how long you will live. So, how to be happy – in professional life and beyond?

There was a lot of research dedicated to what makes people happy, and what makes them live longer and in good health. This article lists a few key findings from the last few decades and sums them up to arrive at just one common conclusion.

1. Meaningful Relationships With People.

The Harvard Study of Adult Development was running for over 75 years. In this study, 724 men enrolled at the point when they were reaching adulthood. (hence, “adult development“) They were then tracked for decades concerning their health, relationships, and overall life satisfaction. 

According to Robert Waldinger, the chief researcher in the study, it turns out that it is not fame, wealth, or cholesterol level at age 50 that best predicts health at age 80. It is the quality of relationships with family and friends.

The same study also revealed that job satisfaction has little to do with salary or social status. In fact, the jobs which make people unhappy are usually those that isolate them from others.

The study by Hilbrand et al. (Evolution and Human Behavior, 2016) also referred to this point. Namely, according to Hilbrand’s study, elderly people who are casual caregiversboth within and beyond their familylive longer than their counterparts who don’t carry out similar activities. 

It’s hard to disagree with this finding—people met on the way often become the only capital that you gain from your projects. (as also reviewed in the blog post entitled “People Is the Answer“)

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2. The Purpose.

A recent research study by Alimujiang et al. (JAMA Network Open, 2019) showed that elderly people who believe that their life has a purpose, live longer than those who don’t hold such a belief. “Community, achievement, reputation, relationships, spirituality, kindness — all these can feed into any one person’s life purpose.

So, there is not one specific definition for any one person.” — says the study’s lead author, Leigh Pearce. This might also explain the results of the studies mentioned in point (1). Namely, building meaningful relationships with other people is just one of many possible ways to develop a sense of purpose.

3. Active Reinterpretation Of the Situation.

According to Dan Gilbert, the author of the book “Stumbling on Happiness,” humans, as the only species in the world, can synthesize happiness. Namely, if we don’t have something we want, we can reinterpret the situation so that we can feel better anyways.

And, we should actively use this ability to feel happier in life. It’s an interesting concept hard to disagree with. As research clearly shows, even after extremely lucky or unlucky events, the level of happiness always relaxes to the same baseline.

For example, a famous study conducted at NYU by Brickman et al. (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1978) has shown that as soon as a year after winning a lottery, the lottery winners typically feel the same or less happy than before their lucky day.

On the contrary, paraplegics don’t seem to experience a long-term decrease in happiness despite their tragic health condition. Happiness is like a thermostat and single events only pull you out of your homeostasis for a little while. Thus, you need to work on leveraging your homeostatic happiness level than chasing after lucky, joyful events that are short-lived and passing.

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4. Self-Discipline.

The famous Dunedin study is yet another study worth mentioning here. The study started in New Zealand in 1971. In the study, unlike in the Harvard Study of Adult Development, the subjects were tracked from the very day they were born.  

The major purpose of the study was to find early life predictors and determinants of overall life success. We are now talking about “life success” in the broad sense — from health, through relationships, to financial wealth.

So, what came out of this huge, 50-year-long research initiative? As it turned out, the best predictor of life success is self-discipline in children (Moffitt et al., PNAS, 2011). As it appears from this study, self-discipline matters much more than your IQ, the social status of the family in which you were raised, or even your emotional intelligence.

5. Patience.

“Follow your passion!” — this cliche sentence is a nightmare of every career advisor. In fact, passion is not a vision hanging in the sky or an item that you pick up from the street. 

In fact, passion is a great REWARD that waits for those who sweat for it over the years and win it via: (1) curiosity, (2) patience and resilience, (3) diligence & integrity. So, if you’d like to feel more passion for your work, brace yourself, stop looking around and start working on your “project passion” today!

Summary: So, How To Be Happy in Professional Life?

When looking at the list above, one thing comes out as a striking common factor. Namely, all these things depend on us rather than on external factors!

  • No one will choose our life purpose for us. 
  • No one will build relationships for us. We need to reinterpret our misfortunes to our advantage by ourselves. 
  • No one will push us to wake up in the morning and go through our morning routine.
  • No one will choose things well for us in the long term over quick gratifications.
  • No one will work on our professional development in our name.

These are all our own decisions.

We tend to be so occupied with everyday struggles that we often forget about the most important things in life including personal development as well as professional development.

And sometimes, it’s good to get back to the basics and think about these simple truths. After all, happiness — both at work and in life — is the ultimate goal of us all yet we often make it harder for ourselves.

Lastly, instead of chasing after one big goal and sacrificing everything else, it is good to invest in harmonious developmentVarious areas of life support each other, so if you let go of excellence in one of them, all of them will deteriorate. And vice versa: if you work on one of the pillars of your life, all of them will strengthen.

For instance, taking care of your health gives more energy and enthusiasm to build other pillars properly (well, that’s the obvious one). Taking care of your spirituality makes you more sensitive and attracts other passionate people to your life, so your social and professional lives will thrive. Satisfaction with your career leads to more happiness, less stress, and in turn, longer and healthier life. Et cetera.

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You can find more information on how to be happy in the books: “Be Happy: A Little Book to Help You Live a Happy Life” by Monica Sheehan and “Mindset: Changing The Way You think To Fulfill Your Potential” by Carol Dweck.

Please review also our article on related topics: “How To Live a Good Life? A Note On Confucianism and What Can It Teach Us When It Comes To Building Professional Networking Strategies

Can you think of anything else in this world that is just? If so, please drop your comment below! 

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Please cite as:

Bielczyk, N. (2020, August 7th). How To Be Happy? The Only Justice in the World. Retrieved from https://ontologyofvalue.com/how-to-be-happy-the-only-justice-in-the-world/

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