The Simple Changes That’ll Make You Happier at Work
Whatever you might think about happiness, it is most certainly a state of mind. That means that if you can change your state of mind you can change how happy you are. Now, I’m not going to claim that ‘it’s all in your head’ like so many do. That’s obviously not true, as evolution made your mind a reflection of the reality around you. It wouldn’t be much use if it wandered off on its own all the time, feeling things that had no basis in the world around you. Who cares if a grizzly is chasing me? Today I just feel good about things.
Yes, a reality most certainly has an impact. The thing is, you can re-align that impact. You can learn to see the world in a way that will let you be happier. Here we’re going to cover some of the best ways that you can do exactly that.
Success and happiness
If you want to read a great book about being happier at work, consider picking up The Happiness Advantage, by Harvard Psychologist Shawn Achor. In it, he claims that we’ve put the cart in front of the horse by believing that if we can be successful, we’ll be happy. But just thinking back to your successful and your less successful friends will show you that this isn’t true. Some are happy, some are not and whether they’re successful rarely has anything to do with it.
What Shawn proposes in his book is that if you reverse cause and effect and work on being happy, then you’ll actually end up being far more successful. So, for the first change, you’ve got to change your perspective. Stop focusing on being successful first and work on being happy. If you can do that, then you’ll be successful as a matter of course.
Use your holiday days
Many people have this weird idea that if they want to get ahead, they have to sacrifice and one of the first things they sacrifice is their holidays. And yet, the research is pretty unequivocal in this regard. Holidays are actually good for your career. They offer you a chance to get away, recharge, get distance from what you’re doing and rearrange your priorities. Even better, they give you the opportunity to realize what you’re all doing it for.
For that reason, a simple change you can make is to stop feeling guilty about taking holidays. Instead, see them for what they are – happiness boosters that advance your career as well.
It turns out that how you frame the world around you both seriously impacts how well you do in certain jobs and how happy you feel. To find out how you frame things, consider this little thought experiment.
You enter a bank filled with people. Right behind you, a bank robber enters. He fires off one shot and hits you in the shoulder before he’s overpowered. Do you consider what has just happened unlucky or lucky?
Most people will say they’re incredibly unlucky. They will say ‘why was it me that was shot in the shoulder? Wasn’t there somebody else that could have been hit?’ Those are people who frame things negatively.
A smaller group frames things in a more positive light. They see this as extremely lucky. They could have been hit in the head or the chest, but weren’t. Other people could have been killed, but they weren’t. And now they’ve got an amazing story they’ll be able to tell at the next cocktail party! These people frame the world positively.
If you’re in the latter group, then you’ll find that setbacks are a lot easier to deal with. The good news is that you can move from the negative to the positive group. All you need to use is the following your ABCDs:
- Adversity: this is the problem that hits you.
- Belief: This is the belief that you hold that belief. Is it the end of the world or is it not that big of a problem after all? Again, these beliefs are generally knee-jerk reactions.
- Consequences: Your belief will guide your consequences. If you hold onto a negative belief, then the consequences will be more severe both mentally and circumstantially, as you give up, get depressed or otherwise allow the event to exert a great deal of control.
- Disputation: Here is where you take action. When a negative event has hit you and you hold a certain view about it, you need to question that view. Ask yourself ‘is it really as bad as I make out? Is there an opportunity to take this failure and take this as an opportunity to learn? Where is the positive in all of this?
Speaking out loud can often help you sort through this more easily. Note, when you first start to do this it will be hard. You will want to be unhappy and despondent. And to a certain level, you should allow yourself to feel that way. After all – contrary to how they’re portrayed in popular culture – negative emotions are not bad. But after you’ve given yourself a good moment to be miserable, it’s time to start to dispute the negative view. In that way, you’ll be able to get past the problem a lot faster.
Happiness is most certainly influenced by matters in the real world. At the same time, we still have control and if we can nudge our lives through outer and inner actions, then we’ll be able to be far happier. You don’t need to be successful for this to be the case. Quite the contrary. Happiness breeds success.
So, stop waiting for happiness. Instead, make it a part of your life by taking the actions outlined above. For what’s the point of life if you’re not happy or fulfilled?