Happiness. Zappos believes in delivering it. Coke wants you to open it. Countless books try to help you achieve it Research demonstrates that you are more productive with it.
And yet the truth is that so few people feel it at work.
Is it because leaders don’t create “happy” workplaces? Is it because work is inherently miserable? Or perhaps it’s because of our attitudes about work?
There’s really no definitive answer here.
A negative boss, bad working conditions or a toxic culture can certainly make people unhappy.
I’ve also seen how leaders can create happier and more productive employees by creating the right culture and work environment.
However, I believe the biggest determinant of our happiness at work is… us. Our happiness has less to do with forces outside of us and more to do with what’s inside of us. Happiness is an inside job.
Our happiness comes not from the work we do but from how we feel about the work we do.
I’ve met bus drivers, janitors and fast-food employees who are more passionate about their jobs and happier than some professional athletes making millions of dollars.
The way we think about work, feel about work and approach our work influences our happiness at work.
We can be happier by focusing on what we GET TO do instead of what we HAVE TO do. We can realize that the ability to work is a gift, not an obligation.
We can enjoy our jobs more by creating a new measuring stick. Instead of comparing ourselves to others we can measure ourselves against our own growth and potential. Each day we can come to work with the mindset that today we will be better than we were yesterday and tomorrow we will be better than we are today.
We can also enhance our happiness by tuning out negativity. Gandhi said, “I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet,” and neither should we. Instead of listening to the negative voices let us focus on our positive choices.
We can’t drive someone else’s bus. We can’t control someone else’s attitude but we can control our mindset. Our job is to drive our bus and make it great. If we focus on the positive and tune out the negative our happiness will soar.
Finally, we can energize our jobs by working for a bigger purpose. The research shows we are most energized when we are using our strengths and talents for a bigger purpose beyond ourselves. Every job will get old and mundane (if we let it). But purpose keeps it fresh. Purpose fuels us.
When we work for a bigger purpose we find an endless supply of happiness at work.
Happiness at work. It’s often elusive but very attainable. Best of all, we decide how happy we want to be. So whether we are delivering happiness, opening happiness, sharing happiness, or creating it, remember that happiness is an inside job that you can bring to work today!