How Connection Builds Resilience


Have you ever thought about how your “work” may either lift your resilience or put a drag on it?  And by work, I mean what you do with the bulk of your day, whether that’s being a stay-at-home parent, a student, a community volunteer or working outside the house.

A few years ago I began to research what makes people happy with their work.  I found that people were in their jobs for three main reasons.  Some were just there for the pay & the benefits.  Others needed the money, but they also enjoyed their work and their colleagues.  And others were there – yes for the money and yes they liked the work – but most importantly, they felt that what they did contributed to a greater good.  Their organization helped their community or even their nation.  And this can hold true even if your “work” doesn’t come with a weekly paycheck or take you to an office.

It turns out these three levels of connection matter for your happiness.  If you’re just in it for the pay and benefits, you’re the least happy.  If you like the work, you’re in the happiness middle.  And if you’re connected to a greater good, you’re much happier than the rest.

If you’re a stay-at-home parent, it’s easy to get bogged down in the daily grind of picking up toys, preparing meals, and watching TV shows about bears who go shopping.  It’s easy to lose sight of the important job you’re doing.  You are raising the next generation of contributors to our community!  You’re determining just how productive and civil and happy our next generation will be.  There’s no bigger contribution than that.  And if you are a student maybe you feel like the exams and classes will never end – but when they do, you are ready to begin the next phase of your life and take what you have learned to make the world a better place.  If you are participating in your community as a volunteer or you are managing your household finances the day-to-day logistics can easily take you away from the bigger picture about how you are contributing and who you are supporting.

So whether you’re the VP of sales at a Fortune 500, a third year law student, the head of your local museum, the CFO of your family or a parent with two toddlers – when things get bleak, focus in on how important your contribution is.  Find those highest level connections and remind yourself that what you do matters.  Enjoy the happiness that flows from that realization.

And enjoy the resilience, too.  Because my work shows that the higher we can get connected to our “work,” the more resilient we are too against the stuff that life throws at us.

Here’s to your greater wellness!

— Dr. Andrew Shatté, Chief Scientist,

Key Thought:

There are three levels of connection to our work:
Level 1 – pay and benefits
Level 2 – like the work, like the people
Level 3 – contribute to a greater good