It may sound counterintuitive, but your job can be a source of happiness and well-being.
Conversely, being unemployed has negative effects on health and well-being that are mitigated by having a job. This isn’t just because of the paycheck, either — having a high salary isn’t linked directly to feeling good. Simply having a job at all, even one that’s low-paying, increases our satisfaction with our lives.
So next time you hit your snooze button to put off heading to the office, consider that the daily grind might be contributing to your overall feeling of contentment. Here are four science-backed ways that your job is upping your happiness.
Having a Job Improves Your Well-Being
Remember this when you’re stuck in traffic on your morning commute: Statistically, you’re still feeling less stressed out and angry than those who don’t have a job to go to.
According to a recent Brookings Institute paper that analyzed data in the U.S. and Europe, your employment status is “absolutely critical” for feelings of positive well-being. (Long-term unemployment can have “psychological scarring effects.”)
Interestingly, the people who are most satisfied are the ones who work either part-time or full-time — but voluntarily. People who have the option to retire but keep working because they want to rank the highest for happiness, found study authors.
Our Work Can Positively Influence Our Daughters (and Sons)
Before you start feeling guilty for prioritizing your career, remember that working moms can have positive impacts on their daughters, according to Harvard Business School researchers. After crunching data from 25 nations to look at how working moms affected their children’s future, the study authors learned that working mothers raised more professionally successful girls than women who made caretaking their primary responsibility: They performed better in the workplace, earned more, and occupied more powerful positions.
Daughters of working moms also earned 23 percent more income than those who had stay-at-home moms growing up. Sons of working moms, too, bended the gender stereotypes: As adults, they tended to spend twice as many hours on family and child care thanks to the modeling they picked up from their parents. Knowing that you’re doing something right for your kids is bound to put a spring in your step.
Work Can Keep Us Healthy
Punching a clock is good for your physical health. A study conducted in the 1980s showed that that men who were out of work made more trips to the doctor, took more meds, and were bedridden more often than men who were employed because they had higher levels of stress, depression, and anxiety. This research squares with more recent findings concerning working women: Women with full-time jobs are healthier at age 40 than women who work part-time, are stay-at-home moms, or are persistently unemployed, according to a University of Akron study.
Work Can Make Us More Agreeable
Even when you’re feeling your grouchiest in that meeting or sending a passive-aggressive email to a vendor, you’re still probably more agreeable and easygoing than if you didn’t have a job. After British researchers followed nearly 7,000 German subjects over time, they learned that participants’ basic personality traits could change based on their job status. Unemployed men and women appeared to become much less agreeable and conscientious as compared to subjects who became re-employed.