The Happiness Formula

By Rob Shaul

Doing Work you Love +
Living in a Place you Love +
Being near People you Love = Happiness

If you can get 2 out of 3, you’re doing good.

Doing Work You Love
“Doing work you love” involves work that is “worthy” of your talents, you’re naturally good at, is challenging, and fulfilling.

Doing work that is “worthy” of your talents is especially important. Never have I met someone who is ashamed of their job, and is still happy. Getting stuck in the rut of working at a job or career not worthy of your talents is one of the great traps in life, and obstacles to happiness.

I heard a rut described as a “grave that is open at both ends.” There’s enough pain to tell you something is seriously wrong, but not enough pain to force you to change. The individual must risk financial and other uncertainty to dig themselves out and many can’t muster the bravery or stomach the risk.

Nothing is worse than being bored at work. Nothing. Yet many suffer this every day. These are those who live for the weekend and vacation – they are the clock watchers. Some spread their misery to others in the workplace.

Expect Doing Work you Love to change as you grow and mature. Often, the perfect job or career field for your 20’s won’t be for your 30’s. The perfect job or career for your 30’s won’t be for your 40’s, etc.

Some can stay in the same career field over their work life and move up the chain in responsibility to find career and job fulfillment. Military, medicine, business and academic careers are good examples of this.

Craftsmen and tradesmen in all fields can hone their craft, continue learning, and eventually transition to artistry, and do the same.

Others, entrepreneurs, can find fulfillment in the creativity and scary excitement of business development and growth.

I’m on my third career – all in completely different fields. My career changes have all been by choice, and each has been terribly stressful, yet incredibly invigorating. I hope to have two more, at least.

Living in a Place You Love
Hate the traffic, but commute to work everyday? Hate the cold but live in the North? Hate the heat and humidity but live in the South? Love to hunt, but live by the sea? Love to surf, but live in the mountains? Love to shop, but live in the boondocks? Live in the city, but want a dog and chickens?

There’s no escape from this disconnect between where you live and where you want to live and it’s constant reminder eats at happiness.

Many, many times, people I’ve spoken to have told me upon discovering I live in Jackson, Wyoming, how lucky I am, and how they would love to do the same. I tell them they can, and the excuses come rolling back at me.

Wish you lived somewhere else? Move there and start building a life – one step at a time. It’s that simple, and that hard. But it is possible.

Many times, “Living in a Place You Love” involves more than outdoor recreation, environment, and entertainment. It involves a deeper connection to the place.

Often this is heritage – I’m the fifth generation of my family to live in northwest Wyoming, and I hope my sons are the 6th. I always knew I’d make a life here.

Sometimes this deeper connection is spiritual. Jackson is full of people from other places who find solace and fulfillment in the Mountain Life. This is where they belong.

The Florida Keys is full of people from other places who find solace and fulfillment in the Salt Life. This is where they belong.

Some are lucky, and can be happy living anywhere. But most are not, and long achingly for their “place.”

Where do you belong? Move there, and you’ll be happier.

Living Around People You Love
Sometimes this is friends, but mostly this is family – wife/husband, brothers, sisters, parents, children, grandchildren.

In my early 30’s I divorced. My ex remarried and moved my young sons across the country to upstate New York. Many have experienced something similar, and we will all tell you separation from children is crushing.

Deployed military and others understand this first hand, and must also endure the separation from their husband or wife.

Physical separation from people you love can never be fully overcome through frequent phone calls, and holiday visits.

Of the three, Living Around People You Love is the most impactful key to happiness. No amount of career achievement and success will fully overcome the loss of this separation. No great hunting trip, incredible mountain alpenglow, or perfect surf break can completely make up for it.

Without my sons I threw myself into work and the mountains with desperate intensity. I had two out of three, and was doing pretty good.

But I missed countless special moments with my sons and I’m still scarred by this loss.

Closing the physical distance between you and the people you love is the best thing you can do for your own happiness.

 

One thought on “The Happiness Formula

  1. Rob,

    I will never forget this advice from you in 2017 after attending your programming course (highly recommended btw) and having painfully left the Army – which was my life and identity.

    I continue to use these beautifully simple metrics to measure my life satisfaction.

    Thanks for sharing this with me Rob!

    Best,
    Scott

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