Your happiness is everyone’s business now, and particularly, your employers. Contemporary organizational models are busy incorporating your satisfaction through personalization. Are you a happy low performer or an unhappy high performer? Their performance-happiness matrix has figured you out, far more efficiently than any kind of self-reflection. Their formula is simple – happier employees are more productive, and productive employees are happier, a supposed win-win solution for the employer and the employee.

This comes at a time where stress has become the most pervasive condition in the workplace. According to a 2017 Forbes report, between 60% and 80% of workplace accidents are linked to stress. In the Netherlands, 24% of employees who were absent from work in 2015 stated that their sickness were mainly or partly due to their work.

The solution? Architect happiness through open office plans for employee bonding. Hire ‘funsultants’ to design team activities to create that family feeling. There is a Chief Happiness Officer at places like Google. Our own university has instituted a Week of Happiness at Work that orients us toward, “enjoying meetings, turning stress into work flow, training your mind to dwell more on positive experiences and letting go of your tendency to worry.”

Payal Arora is an Associate Professor at Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

Behind this cult of happiness and mandatory positivity is much good intent, I assume.

The fact remains, however, that the nature of work has increasingly become more competitive, more cutthroat and ruthless, obsessively quantifying us employees through numerous standards of excellence. We are made to feel more and more disposable and dispensable given that supply overtakes demand, at least in academia, with the glut of qualified workers.

In which case, our happiness is really the antithesis of work. Let’s face the fact – meetings may at best be efficient or even unnecessary, but not fun.

If happiness equals to productivity, then let’s choose to be unhappy.

There is virtue in idleness, as Bertrand Russell long ago argued. We need to re-learn the art of laziness. Regular detoxing from academic work can sustain our sanity. Taking cooking classes or joining an activist movement, may enhance our happiness at the expense of productivity.

As academia narrows down the measure of self-worth to grants, we need to push even harder to broaden what makes us happy to that which is non-instrumental, non-utilitarian and most importantly, non-work related.

Payal Arora is an Associate Professor at Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication