My career story (stay tuned for my answer to the money/happiness question at the end):
When I was 16, I worked in a child care center. After graduation, I got my certification as a preschool teacher and did this for another year or so. I loved working with the kids so much, but I was literally going into debt working there. I was making just above minimum wage and had no benefits...no health insurance...(I was always sick while I worked there)
I eventually started resenting the job, even though I loved the kids & work that I did. I quit.
I needed a big change so I started doing office work. I was making lots more money. I usually enjoyed the work but didn't like the people who told me what to do all day. And I didn't like being chained to a desk.
In between all of this, I met my husband, who loved me enough to dig me out of debt.
I worked really hard to move up the ladder in the office I worked in and I did...but didn't get more money to show for it - and I was working even harder. It didn't take me long to get a bad attitude about that and I quit.
I decided at this time that I could no longer work for other people. I was stressed out all the time and my health wasn't good. My husband was supportive of me so I decided to get my certification as a bridal consultant (yes...I was a wedding planner). This was so exciting to me. I went into business with another person, and that was fulfilling (but stressful) until she ended up screwing me over really really bad.
At this time we decided we wanted to get pregnant and I was going to stay home and raise our baby. I was tired of the corporate stuff. I needed something more fulfilling. Raising a baby fulfilled that for me.....until I got anxious to get out of the house again and interact with adults and make some of my own money.
....Fast forward to 9 months after our son was born and I started doing my skin care and cosmetics business. It has now been a year since I started and I am FINALLY saying "I don't care if I make a dime at this business, I love what I do!" I can see myself doing this for many many years. I don't have anyone breathing down my neck telling me when I can and can't take a lunch break, when I can take vacation, when I can get a raise, etc. I call the shots. I work hard when I want to. I have independence! That's something that's very important to me. Plus, I get to play with makeup, help people feel & look good & help fight animal cruelty. AND I get to be at home raising my son. Bonus, bonus, and more bonus!
Unfortunately, as far as the money/happiness thing goes, I feel that a person can be very underpaid but love your work/job. If being underpaid is causing strife in your life, then you're probably not too happy. Having more money coming in could really affect your happiness. But I don't think that if I earned a million dollars a year I'd be any happier than I am now, if that makes any sense.