Skip to content

Serve Others at Work; Reap Happiness and Fulfillment in Return.

Rebecca Picciotto, "Harvard happiness expert says these 2 common pieces of job advice are ‘both terrible’", Published on May 16, 2023.

Harvard professor Arthur Brooks offered unconventional guidance for achieving happiness at work during his keynote speech at the Catholic University of America's 2023 commencement. Contrary to commonly heard advice like "find a job you love" or "save the world," Brooks warned that these approaches often lead to dissatisfaction and unrealistic pressure. Instead, he proposed two main components for true job satisfaction.

The first concept is "earned success," which is about producing something of value and fully investing in your work. Brooks emphasized that happiness at work isn't about job title, perks, or even if it aligns with one's major or dream job. It's about the commitment and dedication we put into our tasks, aiming to perform them with love and excellence.

The second principle is the "service to others." This is not about solving all global issues but about making a difference in the lives of individuals through our daily work. Regardless of our job nature - whether banking, construction, or parenting - serving others can and should be done. According to Brooks, deeper satisfaction comes from this service, which doesn't depend on the fun or world-changing capacity of our jobs.

In Brooks' perspective, caring for each other is a responsibility we all share. And the way we perform our daily work can be an act of service to others. As he puts it, "service to others is loving everybody with your ordinary, sanctified work." He believes that this act of service in our work ultimately rewards us with happiness and a sense of fulfillment. His advice advocates for a service-oriented work mindset that contributes positively to individuals and society.