Are You In The Flow?

Are You In The Flow?

Are you in the flow? Do you know anyone in the flow? Think to yourself; do you know someone who is not happy with his or her job, despite earning a ton of money? Most of us can name at least name one person…maybe it’s you? Studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between income increase and happiness. But here’s the dirty little secret; those were only short-term studies.

Happiness-Income Paradox

One study analyzed the happiness and income relationship across a worldwide sample of over 30 countries over a period of over 20 years.

The researchers explain the paradox:

“…the happiness-income paradox is this: at a point in time both among and within countries, happiness and income are positively correlated. But, over time, happiness does not increase when a country’s income increases…where does this leave us? If economic growth is not the main route to greater happiness, what is? We may need to focus policy more directly on urgent personal concerns relating to things such as health and family life, rather than on the mere escalation of material goods.”


The Influences of Increased Job Contentment and Joy

We all now know that money really doesn’t buy happiness. Sure, it matters. We need it to survive. We need it to pay our debts. We need it for doing things we enjoy. We need it to purchase nice stuff. But our job satisfaction and, in turn, our contentment does not depend solely on it. There are other factors to consider.

A pleasant working environment, increased autonomy, opportunities to grow and excel are all components of job satisfaction. A significant aspect of job satisfaction is also how people feel about their company’s mission, vision, and values.

When people weigh two jobs at two different companies, the first is for the Mothers Against Drunk Driving campaign to discourage teenage drinking, and the second is for a travel industry campaign to encourage it. If asked which is more desirable, almost everyone would be in favor of the former job. Not much of a surprise.

But possibly one of the most important elements of satisfaction and finally, happiness is doing something you really, really love. Psychologists have identified flow as one of the most sustaining human psychological experiences. You experience it when you are so immersed in an activity that you lose the feeling of time and of what is happening around you. During flow, people experience deep gratification and inspiration. People who do jobs they are passionate about attest to experiencing those exact feelings.

Have a Job You Love and Money Won’t Matter

Who doesn’t hope to experience those kinds of feelings every day? Particularly when you think of how much time you spend working. Now I am not decrying the importance of money. After all, you need it to live in this post-enlightenment world. And as I mentioned, we need it to pay for everything we own. But as the researchers mention:

“…social science findings establish clearly that once you have met your basic obligations, it’s possible to live a very satisfying life even if you don’t earn a lot of money.”

 If you are someone who has already found the job that has both earnings and satisfaction, thumbs up to you, and if you are someone who hasn’t, it makes even more sense to do work you truly love until you reach your goal.

Regardless, keep searching. Find that flow. It will be worth it.


Frank Hopkins is a life coach in Baton Rouge who is certified as a Professional Coach (CPC) by the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC). Frank has helped numerous people to go through emotional change in a way that is positively transformative.