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  • Writer's picturesuelawlorrod

Careers: Freedom, Happiness, & Money

When I discovered my true work personality and my professional calling, I gained a sense of freedom because I knew I could move confidently in the direction of my passion, at my own pace. I am not alone in this experience. This result is often found within the realms of positive psychology and career exploration. I believe career exploration, career counseling, and a potential career reboot is worth the effort.

In fact, I enjoy reading about psychology in my spare time. Here I sit at a coffee shop considering another topic I found in the book I’m currently reading about psychology and money by Morgan Housel, referenced below.

Results - Expectations = Happiness

Imagine you have just been hired for what you believed was your dream job. You show up on Monday morning only to find the office mantra is “if you don’t show up on Saturday, don’t bother coming in on Monday.” The author had this sort of experience in the world of finance. He lasted a month even though he truly enjoyed the work; he had zero freedom. Now imagine you had just enough freedom to take weekends off, vacation time, or sick time. Using money to buy time or freedom will likely have greater wellness and happiness benefits than most luxury purchases.

Work Example: The author shared a story of a successful entrepreneur. He told of saving his modest income diligently with thoughtful financial calculations and sacrifices for two years in order to gain the ability to make the jump to his dream career. Later he became a successful entrepreneur. He reflected that it was not more money that made the biggest difference in his life. Instead, it was the leap he made in his early 20s which gained him freedom that created the greatest difference in his life.

Life Example: Imagine your morning is going well, as expected. You have time for a cup of coffee and hop in your car as expected. Then things change. The traffic is unexpectedly backed up for miles! You arrive to work late and agitated by your logistics and everyone on the road. You rush to your desk without a smile or a greeting. As the day goes on, you are able to accomplish all of your work tasks on time as you expected. During a meeting you participate in a conflict of ideas that feels uncomfortable to you. You expected to have a conflict free day.

In the field of positive psychology, it is encouraged to practice mindfulness. By practicing mindfulness we aim to notice the most pleasant experiences that make up our existence. We may take a minute to greet a friend and share a laugh then tuck it away in our memory. We may notice the aroma of our favorite coffee or the music we play during the day. This, in turn, will enhance the reality we remember. Additionally, desires are not equal to expectations. By embracing simplicity and the mindset of accountability, we can observe the differences in our happiness. So, we may not expect the highway to be clear, but desire it to be, and experience gratitude when it is. We may not desire conflict, but realize that constructive conflict can be helpful to growth and solution finding.

In the world of positive psychology it is encouraged to take accountability or ownership for one’s mindset. This discourages uninvited feelings of envy and disappointment.

Result (a beautiful & productive day) - Expectations (a beautiful & productive day, plus expecting acknowledgements from colleagues) = Happiness (-in a deficit)

Result (a beautiful and productive day) - Expectations ( a productive day) = Happiness (+ in a surplus) as you took time to notice the beautiful day.

Action and Application:

  • Learn about you and your work personality

  • Freedom and having a strong sense of controlling your life is a positive predictor of feelings of well-being

  • practice accountability and ownership of your mindset (Results - expectations = happiness)

  • Observe beauty and notice positive experiences: smell of coffee, a beautiful sunrise, sounds of nature, etc. to create a happiness surplus

  • Embrace simplicity to meet expectations with greater ease

  • Expand happiness to include gratitude, satisfaction, exuberance, and joy


Housel, Morgan: The Psychology of Money: Timeless lessons on wealth, greed, and happiness. Hampshire, Great Britain : Harriman House, 2020

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