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Are you happy at work?

Do you love what you do?

If so, what impact do you think that has on how well you do your work and, how you are perceived by others?

If not, how is your lack of happiness affecting your health, your relationships and work performance?

Because no matter how smart you are, how many degrees you hold, what expertise you have, your contribution, discretionary effort and ultimate success very much depends on your state of mind.

Feeling happy impacts how well we think.

The brainy benefits of happiness include:

  • Increased possibility thinking and curiosity
  • Increased creativity and innovation
  • Increased generosity and collaboration
  • Increased mental energy
  • Increased optimism and gratitude
  • Increased resilience to dealing with life’s curveballs
  • Increased drive/motivation and engagement
  • Increased consistency in work performance and good decision-making
  • Being a better team player when negotiating and problem solving
  • Higher levels of success
  • Influencing others to be more positive
  • Decreased intolerance, irritability, hostility and judgment

It’s been estimated we spend over one third of our lives at work. While work provides us the means to pay the bills and put food on the table, what if you knew how to spend more of that time feeling happy?

Happiness is often described as a feeling of pleasure experienced when we undertake an activity that brings us joy, contentment or satisfaction. It puts a big fat smile on our face.

What is your definition of happiness?

It could be witnessing the birth of your first child, getting married, passing an important exam or being in a place of extreme natural beauty.

It’s also something we can consciously create through our actions.

Shawn Achor author of the Happiness Advantage defines happiness as “the joy we feel when striving for our potential.”

Alex Kjerulf Founder and Chief Happiness Officer of Woohoo Inc says happiness at work is “an emotion. It comes from inside you, and like all emotions is difficult to define, but inescapable when present.”

It’s time to ditch the notion that emotions including happiness are soft skills that get in the way of good business. Science has revealed emotions are essential for decision making. This implies successful business requires emotional input in addition to technical expertise, logic and reasoning.

This is not about expecting to be happy all the time and happiness is not just about thinking happy thoughts.

Happiness is only one of the emotions we can experience. To know what true happiness is, it’s essential we know how to feel and deal with the full spectrum of both positive and negative emotions appropriate to a particular situation.

For example you might expect to feel happy when you’ve just landed your dream job.

But if a friend has confided in you they are in a dark space, this is the time for empathy and concern,

Or, if a family member has just died you may be feeling very sad and unhappy.

Our feelings are temporary and work by Sonja Lyubomirsky and others has revealed that our happiness set point is determined partly by our genetic makeup (50%) partly by circumstance (10%) and partly by our environment (40%) meaning we can influence our own level of happiness through our choice of thoughts, actions and behaviours.

Nudging our behaviour to higher levels of happiness in this way provides a distinct advantage. In 2015 The University of Warwick’s Centre for Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy back revealed happy, healthy people are up to 12% more productive at work. Being happy is good for the individual and for the bottom line.

Conversely unhappy people who dislike their job, find little meaning in what they do are more likely to be disengaged, feel discouraged and are up to up 10% less productive.

Which workplace would you rather be a part of? One that is supportive, nurturing and cares about its individual staff members or one where the focus is purely on output and meeting KPI’s.

It’s the little things that count.

It may seem so obvious, yet it’s the small stuff that can have the biggest impact, beginning with hello.

We’re all busy, but that small acknowledgment takes just a second. So why not try it and greet allyour fellow colleagues with a hello, using eye contact, a cheery (and authentic) smile to establishing a more positive office vibe.

Set your intention.

Attitude is a choice, so why not choose to lead your day with the positive intention of keeping an open mind, focused on your priorities and spirit of generosity towards others.

Set time aside to reflect and think.

Taking 10 minutes to step off the hamster wheel provides the time needed for quiet reflection. This helps to calm the mind, keep things in perspective and keep you focused on what matters.

Be mindful.

Similarly regular mindfulness meditation has been shown reduce stress, hone attention and boost creativity. Feeling calm is pleasurable and keeps us in a positive frame of mind.

Help others.

Our greatest reward comes for helping others, whether as a random act of kindness, calling out the good or choosing to do something nice for a friend or colleague for no other reason than because we can.

Be grateful.

Gratitude boosts our level of optimism. Noting what we are grateful for has been shown to elevate confidence and performance.

If you’ve been wondering how to be more successful in life and work, start by choosing to be happy.

Dr Jenny Brockis

Dr Jenny Brockis is a medical practitioner and internationally board-certified lifestyle medicine physician, workplace health and wellbeing consultant, keynote speaker and best-selling author. You can now pre-order her new book ‘The Natural Advantage’ due for publication in October 2024.

One Comment

  • Joy Turvey says:

    Thanks Jenny – just what I needed for today – was feeling rather down coming back into the office after the long weekend, so your piece gave me a reminder that I can choose, so I did. Even while I write this comment I can feel my mood lighten – I think simply because I have decided to take a positive action. Thank you for making a difference.

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