What does it mean to be happy in workplace?
Are we setting ourselves up to fail?
Many of my friends and colleagues discuss happiness in the workplace. These discussions often list an increased wage, new title, promotion, first property or a similar aspirational life goal
Imagining happiness tends to track down a familiar path;
“I will be really happy when this <Insert achievement> happens”.
Research illustrates that this does result in a level of happiness, generally a short-term moment, a spike of happiness on the radar, that then quickly dissipates as you “crack on with it” and level back to your happiness average. Generally, this means we end up feeling no better off than before.(1)
Research(2) shows that rather than stopping to enjoy an achievement, many people quickly move on to the next goal. This means we are always preoccupied with our latest frustration, like work stress, competition, workload, annoyances and other complaints, instead of enjoying our achievements.
To find happiness in the workplace, it helps to consider these 4 simplified definitions and identify where your jobs sits;
4 different categorisations of work;
Hobby – Doesn’t Pay, but is a passion of yours.
Job – Pays the bills - but does not inspire you.
Career – Combination of the above 2 - passion and bills being paid.
Vocation – your calling in life.
Not everyone will find their Vocation, and sometimes you just need a job between careers (and that’s okay!). Happiness starts with understanding the difference between these categories and knowing what your current work means to you instead of forcing it to be something else.
However, with every role there is something to learn, so it helps to be mindful that you’re still progressing and benefiting your future self in some way.
Renowned author of ‘The Happiness Advantage’, Shawn Anchor(2) discusses this commonly perceived formula for success; If I work Harder I will be more Successful, if I’m more Successful then I will be Happier.
This formula underlines most of what we do, it underlines our managerial styles, our parenting and dictates how we motivate our personal behaviour however, it is fundamentally counter intuitive from a science perspective for 2 reasons.
1. Every time we achieve a success, the goalposts for what success looks like move further; if we achieve high marks at school, now we need better grades. If you started good job, now I need a more senior title, if we were given a pay rise, not long after we want more.
2. If happiness is on the other side of the equation to success, our brain never gets to it.
By no fault of our own, we have fallen into a trap trying to discover this near impossible feeling of happiness within success, which instils a sense of negativity into the brain, subsequently dropping our professional performance.
Now that the formula has been mapped, it is possible to flip this, and enable our happiness fuel our success.
Taking the time to stop and enjoy your happiness in the moment or celebrate the journey, greatly progresses your success and positivity. This can then translate to your team, workplace and career.
In addition, the activities listed here have been shown(2) to bring about positivity and fuel happiness and are regularly lauded by life coach to the stars, political leaders and top sports players.
Exercise – health and energy
Meditation – stop and recharge
Random acts of kindness – help others
Journaling and focusing on positive experiences including reaffirmation
Taking time to articulate gratitude to anyone; your networks to the local café staff.
Try these out and see if this helps you focus on strengthening your happiness, positivity and how your office reacts to you.
Keep your eyes peeled for my next article that discusses the importance of a good work culture.
For further information see Useful links/Podcast found here:
1) Helen Tupper and Sarah Ellis - Squiggly Careers Podcast – How to be happy at work.
2) Shawn Anchor – CEO of Good Think – The Happy Secret to better work - https://www.ted.com/talks/shawn_achor_the_happy_secret_to_better_work?utm_campaign=tedspread&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=tedcomshare
By: Lachlan Pigott, AREA3 Project Manager