About seven years ago I wrote an essay in which I explored the consequences of the American Protestant work ethic compared to different work styles in similarly developed countries overseas. I found a number of unsettling pieces of information as I carried out the research for this paper. Among them were the facts that the average U.S. employee spends more time commuting to work than rearing their children, more value is typically placed in a person's job title than their character, and that stress-related disorders and deaths are directly correlated with the number of hours we put in at work.
John De Graaf is one of the people who directly inspired my research into this topic. My outlook on work and the role it plays in our lives changed significantly upon reading Affluenza: The All Consuming Epidemic in my macroeconomics class. While I didn't know it at the time, as I started writing that essay, I was embarking on a journey to change my value system. Until then I was caught up in the acquisition of 'stuff.' Now, I realize stuff is just that—stuff. With the guidance of a few other leaders and mentors in my life (Notably Dr. Don Parks and Dr. María Lowe) I began making professional decisions that aligned with my values as much as they did my strengths.
Just under a year ago, by chance, I happened upon John De Graaf after a taping of an interview with Bainbridge Graduate Institute Founders Gifford and Libba Pinchot at KCTS Channel 9. This Saturday, I will have the opportunity to speak on the the role of messaging and media in the global discussion on happiness alongside De Graaf and several other esteemed researchers, practitioners, and academics at the Happiness 2012 conference held tomorrow and Saturday (August 24th and 25th) at Seattle University covering the topics of health, compassion, environment, emotional well-being, education, community, arts & culture, finances, time balance, government, and workplace satisfaction. I'm slotted for Saturday at 2:30 p.m. PST. If you find any of these topics interesting, there's still time to purchase your tickets. General admission is $55 and a discounted rate of $40 is offered to students and low-income individuals. Day passes can be had for $35 and $25 respectively. Today is the last day to purchase your tickets in advance on Brown Paper Tickets.