It is a great happiness when men’s professions and their inclinations accord.

— Francis Bacon

Over 41 million Americans work as freelancers, according to Forbes, and despite a booming job market—the best in five decades—most want to stay put.

In a recent survey, 82% of fulltime freelancers said they’re happy working on their own and 76% said they’re satisfied with their careers. Only 7% said they planned to look for a permanent job.

Forbes attributes freelancers’ job satisfaction to the risk-taker’s mindset and a penchant for control. The magazine makes no mention of happiness—the sweet spot where, in the words of British painter Francis Bacon, professions and inclinations accord—but I think that has a lot to do with it, too.

You could accurately say I’ve had two professions and am now engaged in a third. For two decades, I was an ad man; for two more, a copywriter; and now I’m an artist, a profession I love and hope to pursue for at least two decades, although you never know. I have to say being an artist accords with my inclinations.

Social scientists have studied artists and concluded, despite the stereotype of the “suffering artist,” they’re happier in their jobs than most people. That finding shouldn’t surprise you.

But what might surprise you: happiness isn’t the artist’s aim. Misery is. Because, without it, you’re just a Sunday Painter. You paint, paint, paint; but never improve.

“An artist must be nourished by his passions and his despairs,” Bacon also said.

“The feelings of desperation and unhappiness are more useful to an artist than the feeling of contentment, because desperation and unhappiness stretch your whole sensibility.”

Above: DeKooning’s Danish. Oil on canvas board. 8 x 10 inches.