Finding Happiness in the Workplace
Are you happy at work? If not, how can you shift the way you think about your work life and the way it meaningfully contributes to your happiness in life? There’s no simple answer, but with some understanding and practice, you can support, foster and build happiness at work.
Your core values determine your purpose, and we experience a sense of purpose at work when our daily decisions and actions correspond with those values. For individuals, adding more purpose and passion to your work life can mean asserting yourself in how you conduct and formulate your everyday tasks, rather than simply embracing your workplace’s status quo. For instance, if you value diversity and equality, you can do this by collaborating with and working alongside people from a diverse range of backgrounds. If you are a team leader, create purpose by practicing your values in the workplace and implementing policies that align everyday experiences with core values.
Do you enjoy the work you do? Are you part of the decision-making process when it comes to what, how and when you do certain tasks at work? Encourage others to take more ownership over their daily tasks, schedule and professional development, and add in opportunities for learning and growth. Make an effort to ensure that your workplace is less draconian, and make space for a more immersive, engaging and intellectually stimulating way of working. To make this happen, move away from the multi-tasking, hyper-busy, always-available and meeting-filled schedule work style, and instead encourage more downtime at work. Even avoiding emails after work hours can help you relax and recover, leaving you refreshed and ready for the next day.
Your ability to handle and productively learn from failures, roadblocks and disappointments in the workplace is key to happiness. I am not saying that you must prevent difficulties, avoid confrontation or stifle stress; I am talking about finding a way to manage challenges with grace and authenticity. One of the best ways to do this is by improving your mindfulness or in-the-moment awareness. Start by reflecting on your negative learned habits, such as blaming others or self-criticism, which can make it difficult to manage challenges. This also involves practicing detachment to some extent; that is, taking time away from work to pursue creative, social and perhaps charitable non-work-related activities, both on a regular basis and by taking restful holidays.
We are happier at work when we practice kindness towards others through our thoughts, actions and feelings. This kindness involves treating others with respect, extending support and compassion, managing conflicts constructively and creating genuine social bonds.
Today, it is not uncommon to experience disengagement, boredom, stress and even cynicism at work. I believe that happiness at work, as in life, is a basic human need and an attractive workplace perk to offer. Do what you can to create happiness, because it is well worth the effort and investment, and you will see your career foster and grow.