What does happiness mean to you?
Are you happy at work? Happiness is an implicit life purpose for most of us. We aspire to achieve this state of emotional wellbeing intuitively. Yet much research shows that many of us aren’t as happy as we wish to be, so perhaps we should be more intentional in our pursuit…
Most of us aspire to achieve happiness intuitively without too much reflection.
Eleanor Roosevelt famously said that “happiness is not a goal… it’s a by-product of a life well lived.” I agree, so there is little point in putting in place goals to directly achieve happiness. So how can we be happier? Many of us focus on how external drivers affect our mood and, more broadly, our pursuit of this illusive feeling: if only I had more money… if only I had more time… if only that person weren’t nagging me all day… if only…
In fact, our thoughts and actions typically have much more impact on our overall wellbeing than our life circumstances do.
To be happier we need to think and act in ways that actually lead to happiness, not let our surroundings dictate how we feel. A mindset which typically increases happiness fosters behaviours such as intentional practicing of gratitude, savouring, kindness and connecting. In other words, being deliberate and reflecting on the outcomes of spending time thinking of what we are grateful for, enjoying what we have achieved or felt, being kind to others without necessarily disclosing ourselves, and connecting with others we wouldn’t normally connect with. We can each work out whatever the balance of ‘behaving to be happy’ means to us.
I get it – but how does this apply at work?
So back to the opening question: are you happy at work? Without reducing happiness to a mere tool for professional achievement, I suggest that we would all be better off if we could create working environments that supported, or at least didn’t hinder, the individual pursuit of happiness.
I’ve always found that people who appear happier ‘achieve more’ and ‘do better’ at work too.
We could try having SMART corporate goals for happiness, but I imagine that wouldn’t work! Let’s simply look at the workplace as a group of people, each of whom can adopt a mindset and behaviours to increase individual happiness. With each of us feeling happier, we will emanate more positive emotions; by doing so we will create surroundings that other people will want to be influenced by; this in turn will make them feel happier. So we create a kind of virtuous cycle of contagious happiness…
All of this may feel a little alien to your specific working environment, particularly in these times of remote working. Well, just give it a try. Reflect on the fact that you have a role that allows you to work remotely and reduce your exposure to the ongoing pandemic – feel grateful? Think of all your professional achievements, big or small, over the last month – does savouring them feel good? Call a colleague for a chat and compliment her or him on a recent achievement – how does that feel?
Behave this way at least once a day and you will notice a change in your own overall wellbeing. I did, anyway. So, just for yourself, choose to be happy today!
And I imagine you and your colleagues will see changes for the better at work too!