Are making a difference and happiness linked? Adam Grant, a researcher at the University of Michigan who has done numerous studies on the connection between the two, thinks they are (I posted about some of his work before here). Here, he is quoted in a USA Today article.
"You need to know your work is making a difference, and for whom," says Adam Grant of the University of Michigan. Firefighters who say they're motivated to work by economic need or excitement are much less satisfied than those who say they're driven by making a difference in people's lives, Grant says.
And apparently a personal connection with the difference you're making makes a difference as well.
Personal contact with beneficiaries seems to make people happier and boost performance. Cafeteria line workers are significantly happier than those who do "back kitchen" tasks, Grant's studies show. Line workers like to see the happy customers, who are missed by those in the back.
Not only are people happier when they have that personal contact, they seem to be more motivated to help as well. For example...
In another study, he invited a scholarship student to spend 10 minutes telling university fundraising solicitors about his life. Another group only saw a letter from the student. And a third just kept making phone calls as usual. In the next month, those who met the student raised about twice as much money as the other two groups.
Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM