Finding Happiness at Work

What’s the key to finding happiness at work?  Is it a great boss?  Wonderful perks?  Flexible hours?  Top salary?  Nope!

According to a recent article by Jon Gordon at Guideposts, happiness isn’t determined so much by external forces, but by internal ones. “Happiness is an inside job,” Gordon said.  “Our happiness comes not from the work we do but from how we feel about the work we do.”

I guess this explains why I’ve met lots of people who have seemingly great jobs and get paid lots of money, but are unhappy.  And people who are as happy as could be, but have a job that others would find menial and low-paying.  What about you?

Increase your Happiness at Work

So, if it’s not all about the money, perks and how great our boss is, how can we increase our happiness at work? Gordon offers several tips:

  1. Focus on the things you GET to do, not HAVE to do. See your work as a gift, not an obligation.
  2. Quit comparing yourselves to others and instead track your own personal growth and potential.
  3. Tune out negativity and focus on the positive.
  4. Work, and live, for something greater than yourself.

What I like about these tips is that they remind me that happiness is a choice.  My happiness doesn’t have to be dependent on my present circumstances at all.  I can choose to live with intentionality, instead of just letting things happen to me.  And when things do happen, I can choose how I respond.

I’ll never forget this lesson from one of my mentors:

“If you allow what others do, say or think to negatively impact your words and actions, you’ve just given them power and control over you.”

Personally, I’d rather stay in control of myself, thank you very much.

But what if you feel stuck in your job?

I believe we can feel happy and content no matter our job or circumstance.  But I think we’re the most happy and fulfilled when we’re doing the work we were meant to do.

So if you feel trapped in a job you hate, or one that just isn’t fulfilling anymore (if it ever was), it’s probably time to find work that lines up with your gifts, talents, passions and interests.  Maybe that means a new job, or maybe starting your own business.

One of my favorite resources that can help is Dan Miller’s book 48 Days to the Work You Love.

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  1. Vivienne Scarborough says

    Thanks for this article — I agree completely. I believe that how we feel *at* work is often a reflection of how we feel *about* work. As you point out, when I find myself feeling irritable or grumpy or powerless, I remember that I can choose how I want to feel — ala the quote attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt: “No one can make you feel without your permission.”

    I find, though, that many of my co-workers can’t or won’t hear this message. Perhaps it’s due to a kind of “societal agreement,” but it seems to me that many people would rather blame and complain the external surroundings than claim responsibility and choice over their feelings. It often seems the adage “Misery loves company” runs rampant in the workplace — in a rare self-reflective moment, one co-worker mused, “If everything was running well, what would we have to share about?”

    I think the feeling of “stress,” in all its manifestations, is a more valued and acceptable state of being in American society than happiness. I look forward to the society that places higher value on the human *being* over the human *doing*.

    Thank you for your time.

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