Work to Live or Live to Work? Best Happiness Advice

Should you live to work or work to live? Obviously, in an ideal world we wouldn’t have to work at all. However, if we have to choose, then the best case scenario is to choose a job that we enjoy doing and that earns enough money to do whatever we want to do in our free time. In other words, the ideal job is one where:

We enjoy our work and we earn enough money.

Unfortunately, we aren’t always lucky enough to do what we want to do and we aren’t always compensated enough for the work we are doing. For example, a lot of people choose a profession based on their passion, knowing full well that they are unlikely to earn a lot of money doing that work. Think of musicians, painters, hairdressers, or cooks who can spend a lot of time doing things they enjoy, but they simply don’t get enough money out of it.

This is obviously an issue since the financial pressure will eventually make itself known, affecting the work they love, as they won’t be present enough to do their work, as their mind is pressured by regular stress and anxiety caused by the lack of money.

Certainly, there is always an exception to the rule and there are successful and rich people who beat the odds; however, generally speaking, for every one of these success stories, there are a thousand people who fail to become wealthy working on their passion. In other words:

There are people who work doing their passion but don’t earn enough money.

In the third scenario, we have people who spend a lot of time doing something they don’t necessarily love, but they get wealthy because of it. This could be a factory manager, a sales representative, or a dentist. They work to build a life that they want, even if building this life will be hard, stressful, and without entertainment. They work hard now to enjoy their lives later, but often they are so stressed by doing something they aren’t passionate about that they can’t even enjoy their hard-earned money. 

Often, these people try to “buy happiness” by buying an expensive home, car, vacations, and otherwise gadgets and experiences, while these things are known to bring only a limited and temporary happiness at best, often leading to more complicated forms of stress, anxiety, and depression related to having everything people think is supposed to make them happy, while reality proves to be different. In other words, these are:

People who earn money, but they don’t enjoy their work.

work to live or live to work, People who earn money, but they don’t enjoy their work.

Of course, the worst case scenario is to be unable to earn enough money and to do a job that one hates. Here I’m thinking of minimum wage job employees who accept these jobs to provide for their basic necessities. Most people take these jobs on a temporary basis, but some get stuck in the low-wage cycle and they never transition to something more substantial, which makes them unhappy.

To the group above, we could also add people who don’t work at all and in their free time they don’t do anything interesting either, just getting stressed over the fact that they don’t have anything happening in their lives, but not doing anything about this situation. These are:

People have no money and no purpose.

Lastly, there is a fifth group of people who are happy no matter what. This group especially exists in Japan where culturally speaking, people perform all sorts of tasks with complete and total dedication. Be it a doorman, a security guard, or garbage collector, Japanese people do whatever they need to do and they give it 110%. They don’t hate their jobs even if they do jobs that are typically associated with low satisfaction in the West. They bring a certain zen-like, purpose-driven ability to do their jobs and they aren’t miserable doing them.

And the best part of it all is that we can all learn to approach our jobs and improve our lives by adopting the same zen-like idealism, by doing whatever we find ourselves doing, no matter how great or bad these tasks are. In other words: 

We can learn to be happy regardless of what we do.

To learn this zen-like presence is to learn to be unconditionally happy no matter what we do and we can do it by learning to combine mindfulness, meditation, and loving our chores

Mindfulness and meditation are concepts that are a bit more difficult to explain, so I will touch on them later. Learning to love our chores isn’t necessarily bad, even if we end up doing things we dislike. The best way to think about this, in my experience, is to recognize that every job in the universe must have something that people don’t necessarily like to do. Call these things chores, if you like. We need to do them regardless of whether we are rich, powerful, or known. 

It is a fantasy to think that we can always do things that we want to do and never have to do anything we dislike. No one is exempt from this, even rich and famous people spend a lot of time maintaining their looks, status, and affairs by doing things they don’t like to do. 

For example, a lot of these so-called rich and famous people still have to go to the gym, follow a strict diet, spend countless hours picking and choosing clothes that they will wear, look after their skin, go to the toilet, etc. In an ideal world, they wouldn’t need to do these things, but since it is virtually impossible to outsource these basic necessities, they still need to do them despite their high access to resources. 

On a higher level, some of the richest and best-known people are constantly annoyed with problems related to their businesses, relationships, other people, and general life. They may not want to have these problems and they may have enough money to try to shield themselves from some of the world’s problems, but ultimately there is no 100% protection from life’s volatility. 

It may sound ridiculous, but people often don’t want to have any problems and they get upset when their problems finally appear, as they were meant to, thinking that in an ideal world they would spend 100% of their time doing exclusively things they love. And if they aren’t living this perfect life, they believe that they must be living second-grade lives and this is why they are miserable, which, on a side note, is why many people in the world are unhappy. 

The solution for all this is, of course, to learn to enjoy the ups and downs of life, enjoying doing our chores, getting our hands dirty on a regular basis, knowing full well that in order to enjoy a fun slide, we first need to climb a hill.

Become a Part-Time Entrepreneur

work to live or live to work, Become a Part-Time Entrepreneur

Still, even if today we aren’t doing exactly what we want to do, we need to put plans in action to get where we eventually want to be, by becoming a part-time entrepreneur. By “part-time entrepreneur” I don’t necessarily mean starting our own business, although it is certainly a great way to grow as a person. Simply, we need to dedicate a part of our lives to reading, learning, and increasing qualifications aiming at our ideal lives, designing and executing plans that would lead towards an ideal future. 

We also need to learn to enjoy the journey, as happiness only exists in the now, and future happiness is never guaranteed, meaning that happiness is a journey and not the destination. 

Sure, we can count on luck and others giving us exactly what we want in life, and while it can work for some people in some parts of life, generally speaking, for the vast majority of us, waiting and hoping is a sure way to failure, unhappiness, and getting something else that we didn’t really want to have. Certainly, we can get something we want in some parts of life, but most of us can’t expect to get exactly what we want in every domain of life, meaning that it is a better tactic to be proactive, instead of reactive, to get exactly what we want from life.

So even if today we have a busy schedule, it seems like there is no space for any more input and learning, we still need to find some time to move towards our ideal life, as if we aren’t exactly where we want to be today, it is highly improbable that we will be there tomorrow, unless we put some plans into action to get the desired result.

What If You Don’t Know What You Want To Do?

Interestingly, a lot of people don’t even know what they want and sometimes they aim at completely wrong targets, such as wanting to be lawyers, business owners, and public speakers, never really realizing what really goes into having such a life. 

To these people, I recommend trying to live their desired lifestyle as soon as possible, at least trying a sample of this life, to see if it is really what they want. In fact, before settling for something concrete, it is important to try many different things, keeping on aiming, re-aiming, and experimenting, all in an effort to learn who we like and dislike to do.

And it is completely possible that once we achieve our goals, we realize that wasn’t really what we wanted, so it is important to never really settle for a finish line before getting what we wanted, aiming to always continue to look for the next level, no matter how far we get in life.

To do so, the first thing I encourage people to do is to get to know themselves. What kind of person are you? I want you to know this answer in as many details as possible. For example, are you more logical or creative? 

According to Myers-Briggs, we are all both logical and creative, but we have a clear preference towards one extreme. There are a million other ways that we are unique, and taking Myers-Briggs can be the first step in learning who you are, but there are many other ways to learn who we are. 

Simply, we can just try different things to see if you will ultimately like them or not. For example, I remember working in a restaurant and hating that job, and a month later trying a job in a hotel, realizing that this social environment made me happy. This knowledge led me eventually into sales, which was a lot of fun for me, but could be a nightmare to many other people.

On a different level, despite my extrovert orientation, I never was very good at group sports and I always preferred playing games where individual contribution is more highly appreciated rather than a contribution of many people at the same time. 

So, learn as much as possible about who you are, what you like and dislike, but do it as soon as possible, as while the learning is life-long, we should at least get some understanding of who we are so we can choose a respectfully correct job that makes us happy.

Success May Have A Different Face

And for people who find themselves particularly stuck, unable to change their life in the short-term due to age, health, social obligations to provide for their family, etc., I would still question whether this person is chained to these responsibilities forever and there is no other way around the current situation. 

Way too often, people feel too afraid to go out and explore what’s possible, staying in a given job for years, before daring to look around, only to find out that a desired alternative was just around the corner. 

Still, in the short-term, we should all do our best to meet our obligations. However, this doesn’t always mean that we are forever chained to a life of unhappiness and doing something we don’t want to do.

In fact, living in the fast-moving world of today, many opportunities that didn’t exist in the times of our fathers and grandfathers are now available to the general public and people can become famous, rich, and successful in completely unexpected ways. For example, people now make careers by becoming influencers, crypto managers, AI tool experts, and niche specialists on every topic they are the most passionate about.

Roman Russo: Author of Optimal Happiness

Roman Russo: Author of Optimal Happiness

Roman Russo wasn't always happy and struggled with his own negative emotions, anxieties, and depression, until one day he pledged to resolve this part of life, whatever it took. The journey took 6 years, but it was worth it. Today, Roman considers himself to be one of the happiest people alive, part of the 1% of the happiest elite, and he now teaches others a working and universal happiness formula to reach a similar goal. He offers his best advice on Optimal Happiness social media, newsletter, blog, and books, and teaches a complete and unconditional happiness formula in his online courses.

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“The problem is that of optimization,” states Roman Russo, author of Optimal Happiness: The Fastest & Surest Way To Reach Your Happiest Potential. There is plenty of advice on how to be happier or less sad, but no one is speaking about how to become the happiest we can be. And this is the difference that makes all the difference. By not looking at our maximum potential for happiness, we fall short of achieving it. After all, we all have hundreds of ideas on how to be happier or less sad, but most people still feel like they are not living their best lives. As such, Optimal Happiness explores the question of how to be the happiest we can be, regardless of who we are, where we are from, and what our life circumstances are. It proposes a complete and unconditional formula for happiness and explains how you too can become happy today and forever, inviting you to join the 1% happiness elite and become one of the happiest people alive.

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