Going through a divorce can be a trying experience, especially in the case of a high conflict divorce. Child custody battles and the financial battles of a high asset divorce can take their toll on the well-being of people who are in the midst of ending a marriage. Given all this, it may come as a surprise that getting fired can have an even worse effect on a person’s life, according to a new study.
Losing a job is a terrible blow to anyone’s self-confidence, but new data out of the United Kingdom suggests that men suffer longer after being fired than women do. Getting fired also triggers a bigger drop in life satisfaction than getting divorced or even being widowed. The findings are part of a review that was carried out by the What Works Center for Wellbeing together with the University of East Anglia.
The What Works Center for Wellbeing is an independent body founded by the U.K. government to assess what government, communities, businesses and individuals can do to improve wellbeing. The center reviewed more than 4,000 research papers and found that using mental health, self-esteem, and satisfaction with life as measuring posts, people who are fired never really recover to the same level of well-being.
If it takes a few years to find another job, unhappiness grows over that period of time. For men, well-being can remain on a downward trend for more than four years after losing their job. Conversely, the data revealed that their well-being recovered only two years after losing a partner. Young people also suffered more from being fired, the research showed.
Tricia Curmi, from the What Works Center for Wellbeing, attributes the findings to the importance we attach to work and having a meaningful job. To most people, working is a way of contributing to society, which is an essential element to living a fulfilling life. Unsurprisingly, one of the things that can relieve the shock of being fired is finding a new permanent position that is both prestigious and high-paying.
Divorce and death are also major events, but people recover from both faster. Surveys reveal that after a significant dip, well-being in divorced individuals eventually recovers to normal levels. The thrill or prospect of meeting someone new could be a factor. Counter to that, being unemployed is a continual struggle.
According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, a U.K. human resources association, only 25 percent of workers expressed dissatisfaction with their jobs. Despite the tendency for many to complain about going to work, nearly 50 percent of employed people report they are satisfied. Work provides a social network of co-workers and sense of well-being derived from making a contribution.
Even if they did not recover to previous levels of well-being, extroverts were able to recover more quickly, according to researchers. Also helpful for lessening the impact of any major life event, including divorce, are having a network of family and friends, and attending church regularly for those who are so inclined.
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