Work and Happiness in Death of a Salesman and Remains of the Day

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Work and Happiness in Death of a Salesman and Remains of the Day

What a person does to make a living often defines who that person is. Because so much time and energy is invested into work, work is often seen as an extension of oneself. One of the first questions that someone asks after meeting you for the first time is about what you do for a living. The belief is that by knowing what you do, one should be able to tell something about who you are. People almost never ask the more telling question of whether or not you are happy. They rely on the nature of the occupation to tell them something about your happiness. If you are a doctor, lawyer, or celebrity, it is assumed you are happy because of the money associated with those
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Workers may need validation or appreciation, a sense of belonging, feelings of accomplishment or achievement, or respect or power. Jobs that provide these determinants or values in the quantities that the individual needs are good jobs in that the worker is going to be happy. Jobs that provide most of these determinants may still be unhappy jobs because the job may be missing that one value that a specific individual needs most. The same job is seen differently by two different people because the values of the individual are the most important determinants of whether or not the job is a happy one.

In finding happiness at work, there is a large but limited set of values or factors; the key is determining how much of each value is needed. The individual is the only one who can make the determination of how much of each value is needed. What makes one person happy at work is not the same combination for the next guy. One guy may value a big salary to be happy while another could be just as happy with a little less pay and a little more involvement. The right mix of variables is personal because priorities need to be set. Rare is the job that provides all the values that you need in the exactly right proportions. Because of the rarity of the perfect job, we need to decide on what values we could be content with upholding.

Happiness on the job is closely related to contentment of values. In fact, happiness could just be

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