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Is Work Your Happy Place?

The stress gap between home and work

In a study, men over all reported being happier at home than at work, while women were happier at work than at home.

This speaks of the fact that women have more to do at home at the end of a workday and less leisure time. The extra stuff is like a second shift. There is something about combining work and family that makes a home less of a happy place.


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Is Work Your Happy Place?

Is Work Your Happy Place?


Key Ideas

People are more stressed at home

Researchers tested the cortisol levels of workers during the workday and on weekends and found the cortisol levels lower when the person was at work than when he or she was home.

The fact that stress levels go down when people are at work may indicate that there is something at work that is good for you.

The stress gap between home and work

In a study, men over all reported being happier at home than at work, while women were happier at work than at home.

This speaks of the fact that women have more to do at home at the end of a workday and less leisure time. The extra stuff is like a second shift. There is something about combining work and family that makes a home less of a happy place.


Our culture of work

Our culture claims that work is unavoidable and natural. The idea that the world can be freed from work, wholly or in part, has been suppressed for as long as capitalism has existed.

Exploring the abolition of work
  • In 1885, socialist William Morris proposed that in the factories of the future, employees should work only four hours a day.
  • In 1930, John Maynard Keynes predicted that advances in technology would lead to an age of leisure where people might work 15 hours a week.
  • Since the early 2010s, these ideas have been developed further, creating a growing critique of work as an ideology, and exploring alternatives to work.
  • Post-work offers enormous promises: In a life of much less work, life would be calmer, more equal, more communal, more pleasurable, more thoughtful, more politically engaged, more fulfilled.
Work ideology

The work ideology is not natural nor very old.

  • Before the modern era, all cultures thought of work as a means to an end, not an end in itself.
  • Once the modern work ethic was established, working patterns started to shift. Between 1800 and 1900, the average working week shrank from 80 hours to 60 hours, and in the 1970s to roughly 40 hours.
  • In 1979, Bernard Lefkowitz related in his book that people who had given up their jobs reported feelings of "wholeness." During the same period, because wages were high enough, it became possible for most people to work less.
  • During the 80s, work ideology was reimposed by aggressively pro-business governments who were motivated by a desire for social control.
  • By the early 21st century, the work culture seems inescapable.

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    Social jet lag
    A term describing the difference between people’s sleep schedules on workdays and free days. It highlights the difference between how they’d like to structure their days and ...
    4 Types of Sleeper based on Chronotype
    • Bear:  good sleepers with internal body clock that tracks the rise & fall of the sun. 50% of the population. 
    • Wolf: people who prefer to stay up late. 15-20% of the population.
    • Lion:  classic morning people. You read about them in all the productivity articles. 15-20% of the population.
    • Dolphin: light sleepers, who frequently get diagnosed with insomnia. 10% of the population. 
    Psychological Effects of Working from Home
    • Loneliness and isolation. And loneliness is associated with higher rates of depression, anxiety, and somatic symptoms like random pain.
    • Anxiety and pressure. The bounda...
    Symptoms of Depression
    • Angry outbursts, irritability, or frustration, even with unimportant matters.
    • Loss of interest or happiness in activities such as sex or hobbies.
    • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia and sleeping too much.
    • Tiredness and lack of energy for even the smallest activities.
    • Increased cravings for food.
    • Anxiety, agitation, and restlessness.
    • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions, and remembering things
    • Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches
    • Avoiding people.
    Take Care of Your Mental Health

    ...while working from home:

    • Create a schedule and stick to it. Scheduling your tasks (and breaks) will help you to mentally prepare for the day.
    • Have a dedicated comfortable workspace, with a door that closes, preferably.
    • Fight the urge to stay sedentary and schedule active time to get your heart pumping.
    • Foster social connections (on the phone or via the internet, if physical contact is not possible).
    • Learn to say no. Know your limitations, set boundaries based on your schedule and workload, and don’t extend yourself beyond them.
    Strengthening the mind
    Strengthening the mind

    Neuroscience research shows you can keep your brain sharp in much the same way you keep your body fit.

    • At work: Attack your big challenges first. Don’t waste your mornings with routine, ...
    Early times

    Before the Industrial revolution, everyone worked out of their home and sold their goods from there. With the Industrial Revolution came the need for automation and factories, and employ...

    From factories to cubicles to WiFi

    Just after WW2, there was a rise in corporate headquarters and larger office spaces and cubicles. During this time, the 8-hour workday was established.

    Then came the advancements in computers and technology that lead to remote workers of today. The internet and public WiFi allowed employees to do everything they would in their cubicle, but outside the office. They can also work all hours of the day.

    Remote work is common

    4.3 million people currently work from home in the United States at least half of the time, and this figure has grown by 150% in the last 13 years.  

    Remote workers tend to have higher engagement rates and higher productivity levels. Once they switch to remote work, they rarely want to become office bound again.

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    Difficult work and brain health

    Fast thinking, prioritizing, and decision making are actually making your brain stronger and preparing it for top performance for years to come. 

    The things you struggle with but ...

    Maximize your brain's performance

    Building a brain-exercise routine will probably be successful if it mirrors the most successful ways to create any other routine.

    The answer to maxing out your brain’s performance abilities for the rest of your life lies in how you exercise it—just like your body.

    Strengthen your mind every day
    • At work: Attack your big challenges first. Don’t waste your mornings with routine, repetitive tasks.
    • At home: Take on more challenging hobbies. Do a crossword puzzle, play Sudoku, make home improvement plans.
    • In relationships: Don’t shy away from difficult conversations with your partner or friends. Discuss big ideas and how to bring them to life.
    Understanding Stress
    • Dealing with Stress is imperative as it is unavoidable in modern life.
    • Our work, family and our finances create daily stress and other external factors (like politics and terrorism) co...
    Your Perception About Stress

    With stress, the mind and the body are intrinsically linked. You can view stress as something that is wreaking havoc on your body (and it can) or as something that is giving you the strength and energy to overcome adversity.

    Exposure to Stress

    Regular exposure to stress in small quantities can prepare us to handle a big stressful event in our lives. Prepare yourself for stress by self-education about the stressful event, by doing some physically stressful activities like completing a marathon, or something you dread, like giving a speech.

    Repeated exposure to mildly stressful conditions can alter your body’s biological response to stress, making you manage stress in a better way.

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    Curiosity leads us to generate alternatives
    Curiosity leads us to generate alternatives

    When our curiosity is triggered, we are less likely to fall prey to confirmation bias (looking for information that supports our beliefs rather than for evidence suggesting we are ...

    Curiosity and innovation

    Encouraging people to be curious generates workplace improvements.

    When we are curious, we view tough situations more creatively. Studies have found that curiosity is associated with less defensive reactions to stress and less aggressive reactions to provocation.

    Reduced group conflict

    Curiosity encourages members of a group to put themselves in one another’s shoes and take an interest in one another’s ideas rather than focus only on their own perspective.

    Thus, conflicts are less heated, and groups achieve better results.

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    Happiness and satisfaction are subjective concepts – while for some of us monetary benefits can be equated with job satisfaction, some might strive for recognition of their hard-work and los...

    Workplace Happiness defined

    In a fundamental sense, workplace happiness comes when:

    • We enjoy doing the tasks assigned to us
    • We feel right about the people we are working with
    • We are happy with the financial benefits we get from the job
    • We have the scope of improving our existing skills
    • We feel respected and acknowledged at work
    Importance Of Happiness At Work

    Happy employees are compulsory for a growing business.

    A study on organizational success revealed that employees who feel happy in the workplace are 65% more energetic than employees who don’t. They are two times more productive and are more likely to sustain their jobs over a long period of time.

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    Past predictions about the average working hours
    Past predictions about the average working hours

    Nearly a century ago, British economist John Keynes predicted this generation would only work 15 hours a week.

    In 1890, workers worked an average of 60 hours per week. By 1890, the aver...

    The rise in the average working hours: contributing factors

    The rise in average working hours a week can be related to three serious issues:

    • We celebrate "being busy."
    • We worry about losing our jobs in the current economic climate.
    • We use devices that make us always on.

    The rise of knowledge work has led to jobs with less structure, more demands, and higher pressure to be productive.

    Overworking leads to decreased productivity

    Studies show that working more hours increases productivity up a point; after that, the law of diminishing returns sets in. That point is around 49 hours per week.

    Research shows overworked employees have an increased risk of fatigue, general poor health, and cardiovascular disease. Another study showed that managers couldn't tell which employees worked 80 hours per week and who just pretended to.

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