How to Be Happy At Your Work? 10 Tips to Change Your Mindset
In the hustle and bustle of the modern workplace, finding happiness might seem like an elusive goal. In fact, according to a recent report, employees are the unhappiest they have been in three years with a steep rise from even the peak pandemic years. So what are people to do when the research itself paints such a hopeless picture? Give up, and settle for a life of dissatisfaction and discontent in the office?
The fact of the matter is, relying on management or outside forces for happiness may not always reap results. What workers need to do is take matters into their own hands by sticking to a personal checklist that helps ward off unhappiness and dissatisfaction. Holding yourself accountable for your own happiness is not just empowering, it helps build muscle for resilience even outside of the office. Here we have compiled a list of 10 concrete tips that will teach you how to be happy at work. Working on these tips over time will help make them into habits and eventually lasting peace at the workplace.
1 Focus on What You Can Control
This tip may seem like an obvious one but in our feelings of hopelessness at work, we often forget to identify what exactly makes us unhappy at work. This however is a critical and unavoidable step if we want to see a real, lasting change in our workplace mood. Once this identification is out of the way, you can better focus on things you can control and make useful changes. For example, a teammate not pulling their weight resulting in you getting overwhelmed is a problem with a solution. Negotiating with the boss for a long awaited raise you think you deserve on the other hand doesn't have as clear-cut or achievable a path.
It's easy to get overwhelmed by the myriad of tasks and responsibilities at work. But it's important in these situations, instead of fixating on things beyond your control, to shift the focus to aspects you can influence. By directing your energy towards manageable tasks, you'll feel a sense of accomplishment and reduce stress.
2 Find Meaning in Your Work
People who view their work as more than a means to an end or a paycheck are better able to tackle dissatisfactions related to salaries or bosses. When your happiness is tethered to a larger purpose or even a long-term life plan, you can take pleasure in the journey. Understanding the purpose behind your work and reflecting on how your contributions contribute to the overall goals of your team or organization will add meaning and depth to your daily rote tasks. For example, looking at the hard work you are putting in contributing to a 5 year plan and addition to your CV will help you bear difficult colleagues or problems with more ease. Similarly, looking at the challenge of correcting a junior's work as less of a chore but a key mentoring opportunity will make it less of a liability and imposition.
3 Cultivate a Positive Work Environment
As in life, so at work, the people you surround yourself can have a massive impact on your happiness and feelings of confidence. Positive relationships being key to human happiness is also backed up research. An 85 year old Harvard study for instance has found healthy relationships to be the number one key to happiness. And considering that adult humans spend at least one third of their life at work, cultivating positive relationships seems to be a no- brainer priority for workplaces happiness.
Making the extra effort to cultivate relationships with colleagues both junior and senior will help you get through tough days. Sometimes this may involve reframing your relationship with them as potential competition. Make an effort to interact with colleagues outside of the workplace and work towards a non work goal together for bonding. While it's not always possible to choose your coworkers, you can control your reactions and interactions to them. Limit time spent with negative influences and seek out those who contribute positively to the workplace culture.
4 Take Breaks and Manage Stress
Sometimes difficult situations at work can make you take impulsive steps like deciding to resign or losing your temper. Instead, when you feel yourself on the brink, choose to take a break off work to rejig your brain and prevent burnout. This may involve taking some time off work for a holiday but can also include short breathers during the actual workday. Use stress management techniques like deep breathing, journaling, animal therapy or even a walk in open air to clear your head. Sometimes it even helps to use company provided resources. For example you can use corporate mental health support or even employee engagement seminars to crystalize your issues and concerns and channel them in more productive ways.
5 Promote Work-Life Balance
This may be easier said than done but when your entire source for happiness comes from your work, it can be easy to feel dissatisfied and discontent. Instead find sources for happiness and accomplishment outside of work. For example, working towards a marathon, weight loss or hobby can compensate for any loss of happiness within the workplace. Take time out with family seriously and proactively share your problems to reduce the burden. It's also important to set clear boundaries for when work ends and personal time begins. This balance will not only enhance your well-being but also improve your effectiveness when you are on the job.
6 Learn and Grow
Looking for opportunities within the workplace for learning and growth within the workplace might help you feel more inspired and motivated. This will also add another reason for you to enjoy work. Proactively look for opportunities for learning and development within the workplace. Whether it's attending workshops, taking on new challenges, or seeking mentorship, continuous growth contributes significantly to job satisfaction. The feeling of progress and improvement can boost your overall happiness at work and help with crucial goal setting.
7 Give what you want to Receive
The answer to how happy are you at work is oftentimes directly correlated with whether people like or support you. The work environment can often feel hostile or unproductively competitive. And yet, acknowledgment from peers is something we all aspire to. Work towards building healthy communication lines with your colleagues and seniors and take matters into your hands. Unhealthy communication can build over time leading to stonewalling. To ensure you feel good about yourself in the workplace, return the favor and start the chain. Compliment juniors on job well done, cheer on colleagues on their accomplishments and you will find the sentiment and support returned. If people feel you are someone they can turn to for venting or support, they will more likely have your back if needed. This camaraderie is an important investment in you future and a critical safety net for challenging times.
8 Celebrate Achievements
What makes you happy at work? Chances are you've never given this question real thought. Most of us spend our time at work fixating on things that are not going our way. Reframing your brain to look at achievements and accomplishments however minor will make you more content in the long run. Celebrating smaller wins will turn happiness into a habit. Looking at success and failure as a week by week series of events reduces worry about longer term goals. Make a conscious effort to celebrate your achievement and share them to double the happiness.
9 Routine Check-Ins
When it comes to problems at work, small things can add over time. To ensure you don't suddenly find yourself feeling dejected, overwhelmed and hopeless, build routine check-ins into your schedule. Ask yourself what's most important for you to be happy at work. Is it more money or can you wait for a raise? Is it a promotion or do you think you can do more to earn it organically? Crystalizing your workplace issues into concrete facts will help you deal with them in an organized and productive way. A happy workplace is not achieved over a week of conscious effort, it's built over weeks, months and years. Remind yourself of that when you feel like throwing in the towel.
10 Help People Help you
An important step towards achieving happiness at work is being clear with people in charge of said happiness. Preparation is key to cracking the code of workplace satisfaction. For example having a clear set of answers for bosses during performance appraisals will help them help you better. Instead of vague answers, collect material over the months to make your case. Need a third a party to deal with a difficult teammate or junior-say that in so many words. Providing supervisors a clear evidence backed list of issues will help you get the resolution you think you need. Try to voice your issues routinely instead of bombarding seniors with a list of mounting issues in a single go.
Happiness at work is not an unattainable ideal; it's a mindset cultivated through intentional actions. Putting yourself in the front seat of your own happiness journey will empower you and build resilience. Remember, happiness is a journey, not a destination, and each small step you take can lead to a more fulfilling and joyful professional life.