How to become a happy Academic

The majority of academics in several different countries keep complaining about the quality of their lives. In all fairness, being an academic is not a small feat. The constant demands on our free time (if any of it is left), the ever increasing number of publications we should produce, the intense effort to enhance the cognitive abilities of our students, the regular trips abroad and, last but not least, the low quality of cafeteria food are the main factors for becoming discontented with our jobs. Evidence of a general unhappiness is visible almost everywhere. Despite our wildest hopes, the system will not change in the near future. So, what is there to be done?

For the past few months I have been thinking about the problem and I came up with one very simple solution. Let us all pretend that we are on holidays every time we enter the department! Imagine that your office is a bungalow by the sea. In fact, buy a cd that simulates the waves of the ocean. Block your window with a poster that shows an exotic location. Since in the UK the quality of light is very low, you will not be missing anything. Alternatively, buy a few flowers and pretend that you are sitting in a beautiful garden. Remove from your doors all the “Do Not Disturb” signs. Let your colleagues and students enter your office freely. And, then, pretend that they are old friends. Have a chat about their interests, share your latest information on Roman excavations or arrange for another meeting after the weekly seminar. Buy some cookies and offer tea in order to add to the experience. Visit the administrator’s office in order to share the latest news (gossip). Every time you receive an urgent email from another colleague, just remember that they are poor stressed academics who cannot enjoy their jobs as much as you do. Help them find happiness in their lives by showing how excited you are about your work. When you are trying to keep up with the administration, pretend that you are just solving another puzzle. There is no point in getting irritated about it. After all, it is just a game!
And then, maybe, the atmosphere will change. There will be no need for holidays because every day will be a holiday. Academics will shave off their long (imaginary) beards and, hence, they will look less old, less serious and less unhappy.

This is the strategy I will follow the new academic year. Wish me luck!

Economic historian and numismatic consultant


  1. I’d give it a week at the most before you’re back being as miserable and ground down as the rest of us.

  2. hmmmm…. my office *does* have a sea view (OK, in winter when the leaves aren’t getting in the way, but still…) Can’t see the holiday cottage illusion working, though…..

  3. Way to go, Constanti(Polyan)na!… : )
    All the luck in the world!

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