How much does it take to be happier at work? A little, maybe. Perhaps it takes plenty of effort. But being happier at work is possible.
Here’s a story I thought would be good to share – it’s about two industry professionals that I met some time ago in a departmental exercise where would speak with staff to understand the their job scopes. My role was as a scribe was to basically take down meeting minutes. Sounds dull but boy, did I (accidentally) learn something from two very capable ladies.
Let’s call them Helen and Grace. I met with each of them separately on different days but they left a really deep impression on me. These two professionals both understood the restrictions in their jobs, naturally. Both had to handle tasks that were out of their job scope and they both raised work related issues that didn’t sit well with them. But here’s what I noticed:
Helen walked in like a regular, busy person, if that even makes sense. She didn’t smile much and our conversation was well, ordinary. Minutes on it felt dismal. Helen was so resigned to her situation that it was displayed in the manner in which she spoke, her tone and expression. An hour passed and as we left the room, I thought to myself, “Man, she has to cheer up.”
A few days later I met Grace. They were in the same department and had similar roles but Grace was more “at peace” with her job. She could joke, her eyes sparkled and she was contented despite the nonsense she had to deal with. Most importantly, she mentioned that she had come to terms with things, and hence she could move on in work.
What caught my attention was how they handled the unpleasantness at work. That made the difference. Their attitudes and perspectives toward work transpired so much during the conversation that it wasn’t hard to see who’s the miserable one.
We believe that we should work to be happy, but could that be backwards? In this fast-moving and entertaining talk, psychologist Shawn Achor argues that actually happiness inspires productivity. – Ted Talks – Shawn Achor, The Happy Secret To Better Work.
What I took away from these conversations is this – the key isn’t to dwell on desolation but it lies in the effort to improve your situation. Or at most, understand it and accept/come to terms with the things you cannot control. It’s easier to live that way. I know it takes more effort in being positive and we all need to vent. But too much complaints would also mean that we’re constantly emphasizing the bad stuff. So for sanity’s sake, focusing on the good seems much more productive. Soon enough, being happier at work won’t seem like a huge feat.
Happiness is never a constant. We’ve to go through the bad to appreciate the good. And if you’re always finding yourself stuck in a rut, don’t despair – you’ve two options – change your situation and get out onto the mountains, or be consumed by the tapering valley. Which will you choose? Start developing thoughts that oppose negativity. These strong positive emotions are powerful enough to give you a new perspective. The glass half empty can always be refilled, remember that.