September 19th to 25th is the International Week of Happiness at Work.
Are you happy in what you do for work, beyond a paycheck?
Happiness at work is not an oxymoron, though if you’re not happy at work you might think so.
Being happy at work is far more than tolerating spending a third of your adult life doing something that pays the bills.
- It’s about finding meaning in what you do.
- Feeling that your work has purpose.
- It’s about making progress and seeing the visible results of your work.
- That you are continuing to learn new skills and challenged to step up to shine.
- That you get to work alongside others who you like, respect, get on well with and like to work with.
- It’s feeling appreciated for your efforts, being noticed, and supported.
- It’s knowing you belong
It’s doing work that feels worthwhile.
But if happiness at work is something that doesn’t come your way often enough, is there something you can do to raise the bar and make your work something you look forward to doing, to experience being ‘in flow’ more often and welcoming Monday mornings?
Making happiness sustainable.
Happiness is a positive emotion that puts you in a positive frame of mind, helps you feel more confident and capable and to get more out of life (and work).
It can be fleeting, as in a moment of pleasure.
But it can also be a deeper, longer-lasting sense of joy, contentment, or calm.
The science has revealed that making your happiness sustainable is the key to better health and wellbeing.
Dr. Catherine O’Brien from Cape Breton University is a leader in this field.
She defines sustainable happiness as the
“Happiness that contributes to individual, community or global well-being and does not exploit other people, the environment, or future generations.”
In other words, it’s about striving for greater wellbeing for yourself, for others and for the planet.
Why does this matter?
Because we are all interconnected. Your choices and actions impact others and the world around us and vice versa.
You can increase your own level of happiness, because while you have what is known as a happiness set-point partly influenced by your genes and external circumstances, 40% of the variability in your own level of happiness is under your own control.
How good is that!
Reason to be cheerful
Happy people are healthier, don’t get sick as often, recover more quickly and live longer.
But don’t just take my word for it. There is a wealth of research showing happier people have lower risk of heart disease, have a stronger immune system, can manage chronic health challenges including chronic pain more effectively and a reduced risk of developing a mental mood disorder such as depression.
Creating greater happiness at work matters because you spend so much time there! Around 90,000 hours on average. That’s far too long to endure being unhappy at work.
Plus, being happy at work increases your efficacy, your collaboration, desire to contribute and ability to deliver your best work.
It’s good for you and it’s good for the business too.
Creating a positive workplace culture
The caveat here is that with all the good will and intention in the world, while you can do so much to elevate your own happiness and wellbeing, it is only through the creation of a positive workplace culture that will lead to a sustainable version of happiness at work for all.
It takes time, up to five years to achieve, because it requires everybody’s buy-in and participation.
But what an achievement to then have in place a workplace everyone loves being part of, takes pride in and attracts other top talent. Woo hoo!
Tips for Raising Sustainable Happiness
1. Seek the positive
Experiencing more positive emotion more often shifts your psychology towards seeing the good around you, helps you to express gratitude for what you have, to call out the good in others, to focus on what you can do to help others, and to lighten up, with a smile, a laugh and spend time with those who brighten your day.
This makes you more generous, more open minded, more tolerant, more inclusive, more creative, more insightful and a person others will want to spend time with.
It’s not about ignoring bad things, or times of adversity. But even in the darkest of times, there will still be moments of happiness.
2. Nurture small shifts in your perspective
It’s easy to jump to conclusions or make assumptions around events that we don’t have all the facts for.
Rather than passing judgement, (which we’re all super good at) try a reframe or ask, not to apportion blame, but to be curious to what really happened and to understand.
Giving others the benefits of doubt, a presumption of innocence until proven guilty will keep you out of conjecture and opinion, that is frequently wrong, and can suck you down into a downward spiral of negativity.
3. Become a HERO
This is not about being a superhero, but please feel free to wear a cape if you so wish.
A HERO is someone who adopts more positive emotion into their life because it makes you happier, helps you to procrastinate less and keeps you aligned to your purpose and passion. This model is based on positive psychology principles designed to raise psychological capital.
A HERO employs HOPE. Being more hopeful makes you better at problem-solving, facilitates effective brainstorming to come up with fresh ideas and nurtures the idea that things will ultimately get better.
A HERO has EFFICACY. You’re effective and feel empowered to continue to learn, to nurture a growth-oriented mindset and readily adapt to change.
A HERO is RESILIENT – in a sustainable way. You’re aware of when to step back and ask for help, to change tack when needed, to be flexible, while also good at persevering with a challenging task.
A HERO is OPTIMISTIC. This is not blind faith, rather a realistic approach to know when you’re heading in the right direction, and less likely to assume the worst.
Nurturing sustainable happiness starts with you, the HERO, seeking to utilise more positive emotion to bring about the changes needed to create a kinder, more equitable world for all.
How will you embrace greater sustainable happiness in your place of work?
Dr Jenny Brockis is a medical practitioner and board-certified lifestyle medicine physician, keynote speaker and best-selling author. Her new book Thriving Mind: How to Cultivate a Good Life (Wiley) is now available for purchase
If psychological safety, burnout prevention and mental wellbeing is something you’d like to find out more about, please contact me to set up a time for a chat.