Finding happiness at work
Updated: Jun 4
Our jobs are such a big part of our life and when we are not happy at work, it can colour every aspect of our lives. Work defines a large part of our life, precisely because we spend so much of our time there. Yet, when we look around, we find many people are very dissatisfied with their work; feeling trapped and unable to see beyond their current circumstances.
Happiness and Work are rarely used in the same sentence. In fact, our level of dissatisfaction with work is widespread. According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) over 25% of us are unhappy at work. One in four of the working population really wish they were somewhere else.
We can however turn what appears to be a negative into a positive. We can learn to enjoy work, leave the pressure of it at the office and then come home ready to fully engage in family life.
To do this, we need to embrace the habit of happiness. Far from being an emotion that is dependent on our external circumstances, happiness is a choice, a state of mind and an inner practice. True happiness always comes from ourselves, rather than from our environment. We have the power and the ability to bring happiness into our life not only every day, but in every moment, through the simple practice of welcoming it in.
My own journey to happiness was a long and arduous one. I grew up in a very unhappy household, became a rebellious teenager, leaving school without any qualifications and started to drink heavily. In my younger days, I associated happiness with external circumstances, such as being out with my friends, having money to buy things I thought I wanted or being praised by others for my actions or abilities. The difficulty with this kind of conditional happiness is that it is completely out of our control; we have no real say in when or how it happens. When we observe the animal or natural world in its natural surroundings, we do not see the same need for approval from its own kind. A tree strives to be the best version of itself it can be; it does not look at the other trees and make comparisons that turn into a negative self-image. The same is also true in the animal kingdom.
Making a choice about happiness For happiness to be part of our lives, we must first make a choice about it. Do we for example, want to be happy? How would we recognize our own happiness? What in ourselves helps to maintain this happiness? By looking more deeply within for the source and opportunities for happiness we start to reverse perhaps a lifelong trend of looking outwards for its source.
Once we have gained some insights into our inner source of happiness we can then look to how we can change our habits and behaviors to make room for happiness in our life. If we know that we enjoy sports, getting creative or have a passion for writing, we can start to set some time aside to follow these passions.
Finding Happiness at Work One of the traps many people fall into about their work and their satisfaction with it, is to assign conditions which, when met will bring them happiness. They say; “If only: my boss/colleagues would leave; I’d get promoted; I could have a pay rise…” In the long run however, these conditions fail to satisfy. They are transitory victories, which are swept aside as soon as a new cause for unhappiness settles in. Happiness, real happiness, has little to do with external factors. It is an inner space and place, which has a constant smile and self-assuredness. Once we arrive at this place, which requires no external conditions, we can find happiness in the most unlikely workplaces.
Our life purpose will be found somewhere in the simple act of giving and contributing. What we give will depend on our talents and gifts, but all of us have something to offer. Work is one of the places outside of the family where we can share our gift. If we arrive at our work happy, kind, considerate and compassionate, we make our day and everyone else’s enjoyable; we contribute. We don’t look around and feel resentful if someone else has a more favorable relationship with the boss, or compare our salaries, or workloads. We simply smile and look at how we can do the best job possible or how we can help our colleagues with their work.
Look at ways you can bring your talents into your work life. If your talent is numbers, offer to support the accounts department, or perhaps build up meaningful reports on performance and data, which will help your team to work better. If it’s music, but your day job is in elsewhere, perhaps start a community choir, which can raise money for good causes and give other colleagues an outlet for their creative talents.
Start your happiness habit today Some simple practices that will welcome happiness into your life include:
Smile. This one simple act has an immediate effect on our own sense of well-being and a positive impact on our relationships. Practice your smile today and make it a regular habit throughout your day.
Start a gratitude Journal. On a daily basis, write down all the things that you are grateful for in your life. Your health, your family, your work, having money to pay bills, your food. The list is endless. Taking time to acknowledge all the things that make your life better is a great shortcut to happiness.
Get close to nature. Our natural world is one of the best antidotes for depression or unhappiness. Use your lunchtimes to walk in a park, or at weekends take a walk in a forest, near a lake or by the sea if its close by. When we spend time with nature, we can put our life and our worries into perspective when we look at the greater majesty of life which abounds all around us.
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