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Is this your job, or is this your calling?

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From the October 2009 Issue of Senior Market Advisor Magazine

If you’re happy and you know it … so do others. We’re attracted to happy people–not frenetic, false-sounding, “things are perfect in my life”-styled people–but rather authentically happy people. Truly happy people are like magnets to clients, coworkers and friends.

We can sense when someone is authentically happy. Deep in the folds of the limbic system of our brain is a BS monitor that tells us when someone is honestly content. When we notice it, we are drawn to it and want to be around it because the halo effect of happiness gives us some of the same positive hormonal juice that is associated with feeling good about ourselves.

Signature strengths

One thing happy people have in common is that they work with their “signature strengths.” Those are inherited attributes. You can measure your strengths with several instruments that point you toward the things that make you tick. One way to figure them out without getting measured is to take stock of where you fit into the following model, which helps to measure how you genuinely feel about your work.

* Job. You do it to make money, so that you can do what you really want to do. It could be anything–selling cars, life insurance, retail sales–the content of the job isn’t important. It’s to make money.

* Career is where most of us end up. This is a string of jobs you actually like. They are typically professional in nature and related to your skills. But, you’re never really satisfied in your current job. It’s always about getting to the next one.

* Calling is where your natural strengths show up. Here you feel energized by the work you do. You learn rapidly. You like to show others how to do it. You might evolve to different aspects of your calling, but this is where you’ll stay until you retire or die.

Where do you find yourself in these categories? Happy people always seem to find their calling. Whether it’s in their work or in a hobby, they have it in some area of their daily life. In an upcoming column, I’ll talk about how to incorporate your signature strengths in any work you do. To measure them, take the VIA Survey of Character Strengths at Print off the results and, next month, I’ll tell you how to interpret and use them.