Do you think that it’s possible to love your day job? I’ve met many people who believe that such a thing is unattainable – that work is work and can never be anything more; much less something that brings any kind of joy.

Well, I want to disagree. And it seems that I’m on the right track according to a recent Time article on life lessons from older people: the most important lesson they wanted to pass on was, “Don’t stay in a job you dislike”.

To be honest, I didn’t see that one coming; I thought they’d focus on something to do with relationships or family. However upon reconsidering, it’s easy to see how connected work is to happiness (as well as to other factors like relationships), and therefore how important it is to appreciate your job.

Think about it – of maybe 112 waking hours in the week, perhaps 40 hours (for normal full-timers) are spent at work. It’s one of the biggest chunks of our lives and generally the centre of our routine. If we’re not enjoying such a huge part of life, there’s a strong probability it will bring our overall life satisfaction down as well.

The golden oldies highlighted a few more main things (and they should know – they’ve been there and done that!). For one, choose a job or career for the intrinsic rewards rather than the financial: it’s much more fulfilling to have a sense of purpose and passion for your work rather than a big paycheck that leaves you unhappy. Another point was to make the most of a bad job – while your current job might not be your dream, it is one step closer to it, and also has valuable lessons and skills to teach. And lastly, emotional intelligence trumps all other kinds of intelligence: dealing well with people and respecting your colleagues will get you much further than all the qualifications in the world.

Tamara El-Rahi is an associate editor of MercatorNet. A Journalism graduate from the University of Technology Sydney, she lives in Australia with her husband and two daughters.