Yet not in a distant past, people who belonged to nobility or upper classes did not work for a living, they just had to make their life useful in some way but largely they were seeking the pleasurable life. Work was the life condition of the poor.
Now a day’s making money and earning a living or working are separate for those who enjoy some level of affluence. In western societies achieving self actualization through work becomes prevalent once the level of earnings allows for a middle class style of existence. Research findings indicated that above 50k$/ year in income; money stops being a reason for happiness, whilst below this threshold it is a reason for unhappiness.
So if today affluent people have more sources of income than through work alone; why are they working? Why aren’t they mimicking the well to do of previous centuries?
I believe it’s because they are seeking happiness. It’s not enough to lead the pleasurable life, you need the meaningful life and you need the developmental life.
You need the work life to fulfill the basic psychological needs of competence, autonomy and relatedness. Only work gives you access on a daily basis to an area of situations and challenges that could bring the best in you or at least engages you in a way that a life without stakes can’t.
Dr. Robert Biswas-Diener introduces the AIM model of happiness. He introduces the idea of a psychological timeline that’s the basis for constructing one’s happiness.
AIM is the acronym for Attention (present oriented), Interpretation and Memory (past oriented).
I would like to add to the aim model a future orientation with “Anticipation” to make it AIMA.
Attention: Being present, attending to what’s at hand, focusing and bringing to bear all that you’ve got to succeed can be found on a daily basis if you are pursuing a career of your choosing.
Savoring your wins, but also feeling the pain and effort are the building bricks for constructing your happiness.
The “simultaneity principle” from appreciative inquiry advocates that inquiry and change are interwoven. The inquiry needs to be in the area that requires our attention (where the change needs to occur). The area where we shed light will become clearer. Thus our life is made of what we pay attention to. It is based on our interest and sensitivity, but it is also based on our perceptual capacities and the way we frame people, things and situations. If you want your life to be filled with joy, pay attention to what is of essence to you, what brings you to life.
Interpretation: Martin Seligman talks about our interpretative styles in the attribution theory. That the optimists will attributes negative life events to external sources that are temporary in nature whilst the pessimist will attribute negative events to internal sources with a sense of permanence.
This does not mean that an optimistic interpretative style doesn’t hold the person accountable for what’s happening to him. Rather it is allowing this person not to fall prey to guilt and start acting to change the negative situation.
Choosing alternative ways to frame a situation allows you to escape conditioned response, guilt or beating yourself up and focuses your attention on what you want out of the situation and consciously selecting a course of action aligned with who you are, your values and your interest.
Memory: Is a wonderful tool that allows you to savor past events when your present is not so bright.
It’s an excellent technique for changing moods and emotional regulation. When you retrieve memories you are also re-writing them from your current perspective. It’s a very good way to re-actualize who you are and what you became.
Anticipation: Is rejoicing for what’s to come. It is a powerful motivation to keep on the journey while enjoying the trip. Generally when you do get what you want it stops being a motivator and you immediately start looking for the next thing.