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The Happiness Track: Finding a Dream Job

fitting the pieces


Discovering your strengths and passion.

Shortly after graduating from college, I was at a loss. My friends were in medical school or getting law degrees, others worked in finance. A professor encouraged me to complete a PhD in Comparative Literature, my major, but though I loved reading and writing, the doctoral route in literature did not feel quite right. So I began teaching Pilates while I contemplated my next steps—and life changed. As I began teaching, I awakened to a sense of timelessness and happiness I had never before experienced. No matter how I felt before class, I always felt fantastic during and after—and it wasn’t just exercise endorphins. This was the first work experience where I didn’t feel the time go by or even look at the clock. In fact, I had to be careful not to go overtime. I could have gone on for hours. What I felt was nothing short of fulfillment. Wow—had I found my dream job? What would my parents say if, after supporting me through four years at Yale, their daughter announced that she was going to become a professional Pilates instructor? They could have saved themselves a lot of money. Over ti …

About the Author

Emma Seppala

Emma Seppälä, PhD, is author of The Happiness Track, founder of, and Science Director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education.

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