Workplace Happiness

Dwayne Greene October 18, 2006 Professional Studies: Ethics & Issues Professor Tom Russell Position Paper 1: Workplace Happiness Abstract: Explores how various philosophers clarified questions concerning happiness. Specific questions address: What is happiness? Does everyone experience the same level of happiness in the workplace? Traces the history of happiness, by illustrating the meaning of happiness. Demonstrates several views of philosophers including Aristotle, Stuart Mill and St. Augustine on happiness. Observation of Christianity position revolving happiness.

Obtaining happiness at work, and how Job satisfaction hould be at the top of the list. Introduction As the New Year of 2007 approaches, many will celebrate the New Year by wishing others “Happy New Year”. Even the popular 90’s song was titled “Don’t Worry be Happy’ addressed happiness. Most have experienced the Joy of the moment; rather, the beauty of the sunset or a great tasting meal. Then, what is happiness, does everyone experience the same level of happiness. Yet few would equate the passing pleasures of the moment with happiness.

For employees, work is an important domain of life and feelings of satisfaction at work are of obvious mportance in living a good life. For employers, too, employee satisfaction has significant benefits. Happier employees tend to take fewer sick leaves, are less often absent, have lower turnover rates and are more committed. By tracing the history of happiness, examining the views of influential philosophers and by probing the meaning of happiness, the following discussion will explore the revolving questions of happiness related to workplace satisfaction.

Literature Review Over the past 30 years there has been a significant volume of writing in social science literature relating to happiness at work. Much of it is concerned with working hours, stress, expectations, Job characteristics and social recognition. Some scholars have undertaken research into the relationship between happiness, work and leisure. With the topic of happiness, what is the real meaning of happiness? Why does happiness have such a profound affect on Job performance? What is the driving factor behind happiness? One must begin evaluating previous philosophers to strong view on happiness.

However, there are other philosophers, such as John Stuart Mill’s who go against an encouraging view of happiness. Mill’s, view tacked the onnection between possession of natural things and happiness. This discussion will illustrate various positions of happiness related to the workplace. Working lives are not Just a means to pay bills and to get the most out of our time and effort. There are other important aspects to the experiences of work, such as contentment and enjoyment. Consideration by work force administrators should be given to how people can be happy with their work.

This is extremely important because work is a very significant facet of most people’s lives. Position In order to fully appreciate the challenge of clarifying happiness, one must nspect the word, happiness. The ancient Greek word for happiness is eudaimonia, which is related to eutychia (lucky), olbios (blessed) and makarios (blissful). The meaning of all these terms signifies good spirit or good god. In colloquial terms, to be eudaimon was to be lucky in a world of constant disorder. To have a good spirit working on one’s behalf was the ultimate mark of good fortune.

In a world governed by supernatural forces, human happiness was a spiritual force from the gods, beyond one’s control. However, when viewed through mortal eyes, the world’s happenings and thus happiness could only appear randomly. Although, this meaning held true to Greeks, other philosophers challenged the meaning of happiness and the worthiness of happiness. Most are familiar with the paragraph of the Declaration of Independence. “We hold these truths to be self-evident”, “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. This phrase was reminiscent of a similar phrase by John Locke. Locke, however, did not use the word happiness; he spoke of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of property. ” Locke declared that property was the greatest of the three qualities. Although, personal well-being may involve ownership, something was more important than property in the achievement of life’s goals. Ancient agreements discussed the nature of happiness rarely failed to notice the connection between virtue and happiness. However, ancient agreements recognized that happiness was the byproduct of something else and not something to be sought for.

For the Greek philosopher Aristotle, happiness was impossible without virtue. Aristotle contended that behavior is the largest single factor in determining happiness. Furthermore, he argued that happiness was an incidental experience resulting upon pursuing what is good and true. One of the places in which Aristotle speaks of happiness is The Politics, where he is discussing his best form of government. He wrote, “Now it is evident that the form of government is best which every man, whoever he is, can act best and live happily’. Reminiscent of Plato, Aristotle distinguished among external good, goods of the body and goods of the souls.

Likewise, the happy man must have all three. External goods come of themselves, but the most important goods are those who ust be cultivated. For example, no one is fair by chance. According to Aristotle, with those who are most highly cultivated in mind and in character, and have only a moderate share of external goods, than among those possess external goods to a useless extent, but are deficient in higher qualities. ” Happiness is the outcome of steady moral behavior tied with a life of the mind, an intellectual life, and a contemplative life in which one seeks knowledge.

All moral or intellectual virtues are long-lasting habits that are gradually acquired by repeating the same acts. Furthermore, a virtue, rather intellectual or morally, is a good habit, that is acquired through use and practice. There are habits of the intellect, such as science and wisdom, and good habits found in the will, such as Justice and courage. Aristotle believed that “each person has Just so much happiness as he has excellence and wisdom,” and these do not depend on external goods.

Furthermore, Aristotle addressed the connection between friendship and happiness. Friendship is desirable at all stages of life. However, friendship is not an essential ingredient of happiness. Happiness remains bound to one’s moral achievement to which friendship, bound to circumstances, contributes only incidentally. Establishing happiness relates to all relationships in the workplace. Although determinates of happiness in the workplace seem obvious. Jobs which provide intrinsic rewards such as challenge, meaning, variety and complexity are the most satisfying.

On the other hand, some Jobs are repetitive boring, involve minimal skill, enjoy little social recognition, involve little feedback and comprise the completion of only part of the entire piece of work. These Jobs are less satisfying. After a person attains a certain level of income, additional income does not necessarily add to their overall happiness. Contrary to what some, money cannot always buy happiness, and satisfying work can be more important than financial compensation. John Stuart Mill supported the value of utilitarianism as a moral theory.

Mill defined utilitarianism as a theory based on the principle that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. Mill defined happiness as pleasure and the absence of pain. He argued hat pleasure can differ in quality and quantity, and that pleasures that are rooted in one’s higher faculties should be weighted more heavily than baser pleasures. Furthermore, Mill argued that people’s achievement of goals and ends, such as virtuous living, should be counted as part of their happiness.

But happiness is not only independent upon reaching goals. Mill continued to argue that utilitarianism coincides with natural sentiments that originate from humans’ social nature. Therefore, if society were to embrace utilitarianism as an ethic, people would naturally internalize these standards as morally binding. Mill argued that happiness was the sole basis of morality, and that people never desire anything but happiness. He supported this claim by showing that all the other objects of people’s desire are either means to happiness, or included in the definition of happiness.

Mill explained at length that the sentiment of Justice is actually based on utility, and that rights exist only because they are necessary for human happiness. The theory of utilitarianism has been criticized for many reasons. Critics hold that it does not provide adequate protection for individual rights, that not everything can e measured by the same standard, and that happiness is more complex than happiness and virtue. Similar to Aristotle, the Stoics identified happiness with a virtuous life, recognizing that happiness is not to be confused with a momentary or subjective feeling.

A Stoic proverb stated “Call no man happy until he dies because one who is apparently enjoying a good life may be doing so only temporarily; things may yet go wrong. ” A good life is a morally good life. The Stoic defers from Aristotle in the meaning of the word good. According to the Stoic, the possession of natural things was thought to be irrelevant to happiness. To live according to nature”, was to recognize that man’s rational nature directs him on some occasions to accept what is contrary to his primary natural impulses.

However, Stoic philosophers, Cicero and Epitcteuts analyzed the question of “how to ensure happiness despite what may happen to us, despite the unpredictability of luck”. Where Aristotle left a least some room for the play of chance in determining happiness, Cicero and Epictetus attempted to rule out the influence of chance altogether. If the man of virtue is the happy man, they argued, then the man of perfect virtue should be happy come what ay. Happiness is a function of the will, not of external forces. Cicero concluded that even the most extreme physical suffering should not prevent happiness of the true Stoic stage. Happiness will not tremble, however much of happiness is tortured. ” On the other hand, a Christian view point, represented by Saint Augustine, drew upon Aristotle, Mill and the Stoics, St. Augustine asked, “Why are so few men happy when all want to be? ” It is by living rightly that men merit a happy life. Happiness and unhappiness are a mater of reward and punishment. Those who live a virtuous life are those who are happy. Furthermore, those who lead a life of intellect in pursuit of truth and wisdom will experience happiness. St. Augustine linked the happy life with freedom.

This happy life illustrated that the desire for worldly goods is superseded by a desire for truth and wisdom. Like, Plato, Augustine affirmed the significance of education. “The highest good must be known to be pursued, but mere knowledge alone is not enough, the will must be rightly directed. ” Another Christian philosopher, Aquinas, expanded more than Aristotle. Aquinas wrote, “the ultimate happiness of man consists in the most perfect contemplation, he object of which is God, the highest intelligible thing that can be contemplated in this life.

Beyond this happiness there is still another which we can look forward in the future, whereby we shall see God as He is. This is beyond the nature of any created intellect. ” (2) In the Christian explanation, happiness was death. Therefore one’s imagination could be set free to reflect in the delights of the kingdom of God and fantasize the total fulfillment that would Justify one’s earthly pains. In heaven, the happiness of paradise would be eternal, endless and complete. Additionally, there are three categories of happiness. First, the pleasant life consists of smiling, feeling good and being cheerful.

The problem with the pleasant life is that not everyone can experience this type of happiness. However, everyone can experience the second form of happiness, the good life. The good life consists of knowing one’s strengths and reorganizing one’s life to use in work, love, and friendship. The third level, the meaningful life consists of identifying one’s signature strengths and them using them in the service of something bigger than one’s self. But, one does not have to be conventionally happy to achieve it. For example, Lincoln eaningful life.

No matter how refined, the notion of human happiness is not a simple notion that could provide a criterion for making key choices. There are too many different conceptions of happiness and too many different modes in which happiness may be achieved. The happiness associated with one way of life may not be that associated with an entirely different mode. Happiness may consist of recognizing that one cant always be happy. However, work place happiness can be practiced and mastered by applying the philosophies of Aristotle, St. Augustine, Aquinas and the Christian movement.

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