One thing that comes up a lot is happiness, yet, when discussing the idea of happy people in academics I think there is a group that is forgotten often: construction workers.
Construction workers, although not perfect, could actually make a solid claim for some of the happier people in society. As long as happiness for an individual means having a sense of community, being active and creating. Construction workers have all three of these, or at least can.
Honestly, the active part I feel like that is obvious enough, they actually walk and do not look at a computer all day. Creating is pretty easy too, take a group of workers who are tasked with building a house. They start with nothing and each day they get to visibly see their progress on the house until it is finished. Plus, in their creation they have a craft that they can take pride in. A carpenter is a carpenter, they specialize in a specific craft that (at least for union members) they have to go to school for and practice and apprentice in before they can become just a plain worker. This craft takes specific skill sets and a certain amount of creativity to deal with unforeseen problems on the job too. On top of this they get to do this with others, some of whom they can be quite close to.
Community, one of the biggest buzz words that seems to be arising. Presumably, we do not always feel like part of a community in our society anymore. Something which, construction workers may not, or at least I think, they do not have a problem with, or at least not as much of a problem. It’s amazing how close you get when you have to work with a person every day for weeks or months on end, create something together and have to be careful of each other’s safety.
That last comment opens up a different discussion, but next time looking at construction, think about it, that worker may be happier than you are in your office job.