While staying happy at work is important, work itself is associated with numerous positive physical and mental benefits. Navigating the social norms, customs and culture of the workplace helps to keep the brain active and healthy. Listening to the opinions of others and empathizing with their needs also activates networks throughout the brain. Researchers have also found that social engagement at work helps maintain brain functions and protects against cognitive decline later in life.
Staying happy at work means finding and maintaining purpose and meaning in what one does. Spending long periods of time with no purpose is associated with poor quality of life and unhappiness. Staying happy at work also means having genuine relationships with others and experiencing honest and frequent communication. Researchers have shown that healthy relationships protect the brain, maintain better memory, and improve overall health.
Happiness at work also involves social inclusion, which has been found to be a core component of optimal aging. Multi-generational inclusion may possess the greatest benefits, as older workers interact with those from different generations. Social inclusion is associated with greater psychological and physical well-being.
The benefits of work-related happiness have been studied for many years. People who are happy at work possess a greater sense of self-worth and accomplishment. Their work means something to them and is a part of their personhood. Those who work later in life report less depression and anxiety, better physical health, and greater well-being and life satisfaction.
Meaningful and happy work is so important that many older adults who retire, unretire, and seek employment that provides a sense of purpose and offers opportunities for socialization and the ability to use their brain. Many great thinkers throughout history have proclaimed that love and meaningful work are the two most important things in life.