Who is the happiest of the them all?

Mirror, mirror, on the wall….
Who is the happiest of them all?

Turns out the answer is clergy.

According to the BBC, the government is beginning to include measures of happiness in what it attempts to do and part of that has been trying to quantify who the happiest people are in society. Turns out the answer at the top of the list is “vicars/priests”.

I’m not at all surprised. Oh, but there’s so much to say about it – not least the fact that I know plenty of clergy who are very far from happy. My hunch is that those who are unhappy in this job tend not to be unhappy about the essence of the job and are frustrated because they can’t vicar enough to fulfil the hopes that they once had. (My apologies for verbing the noun in that last sentence).

The list itself is fascinating as it lists job categories by average income too. Second most happy people are CEOs bringing in lots of dosh.

Here’e the top ten happy categories:

(Rank) Occupation Mean income (£s)
(1) Clergy 20,568
(2) Chief executives and senior officials 117,700
(3) Managers and proprietors in agriculture and horticulture 31,721
(4) Company secretaries 18,176
(5) Quality assurance and regulatory professionals 42,898
(6) Health care practice managers 31,267
(7) Medical practitioners 70,648
(8) Farmers 24,520
(9) Hotel and accommodation managers and proprietors 32,470
(10) Skilled metal, electrical and electronic trades supervisors 35,316

I’ve been asking myself why it is that clergy come out at the top. Some combination of the following factors is probably at work:

  • Very high degree of autonomy – notwithstanding bishops, presbyteries and other forms of oversight, clergy have to be very self-motivated.
  • We are in the joy business.
  • There’s a relatively high level of vocational testing before you get in – the churches try to select those who are most likely to cope with a very odd life.
  • High satisfaction levels around being with people in trauma and emotional need – you know you are doing good very often
  • High level of variety in daily life.
  • It is a life not a job.
  • Inner calling is a greater motivator than money – you don’t go into it for more money.
  • Lots of opportunity to develop a life where internal reflection allows you to work through your own stuff.
  • The job involves telling people they are loved and learning how much you yourself are loved too.
  • You get to walk into places and situations where others are frightened and help them deal with their fears.
  • Worship.

I’ll write sometime about why clergy are not happy. But for today, I’d be interested in any further comments about why clergy are happy.