The pursuit of happiness (at work)

On average we spend almost 40 hours of every week at work. With such a large percentage of our lives spent working it makes sense to try to make sure we’re as happy as we can be while we’re there. The International Week of Happiness at Work website tells us, “When you’re happy, you’re healthier, more vital, more cheerful, more social and more successful.”

Some studies have shown the key to being happy at work is resilience. Resilience is broadly defined as the ability to bounce back and adapt to hardships and set-backs. At work, resilient people are better able to deal with the demands placed on them, especially where those demands might mean dealing with constantly changing priorities or a heavy workload.

How do we become more resilient?
We’ve all been there – getting annoyed at something or feeling stressed at work. It’s completely natural, but it’s how we manage these feelings that can be really beneficial.

A healthy overall lifestyle can help – plenty of exercise and a healthy diet, but the key to greater happiness at work is becoming more resilient in the face of adversity. Developing an awareness of what we can and can’t control can help us manage how we feel and in turn build resilience.

In his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey identifies the circle of control, the circle of concern and circle of influence. He highlights that proactive people focus on what they can do and can influence (circles of control and influence) rather than focusing all their energy on things beyond their control (circle of concern). This can help avoid feelings of victimisation and blame.

Covey believes reframing things we’re annoyed about, seeing them as challenges to be embraced and focusing on what we can control, will actually enable us to make effective changes. And if you do this you’ll find your circle of influence starts to increase – others will see you as an effective person.

Getting social
Just as important as taking positive actions to address problems is developing relationships with others – cherish social support and don’t be afraid to ask for help. You may not have direct influence over something you’re concerned about, but you may know people who do. Your team can have a wider circle of influence than you as an individual so build those communication skills – they really are important.

As well as building your support network you should also set goals, both individually and as a team. This also helps improve transparency and communication within the team. And celebrate reaching your goals, give yourself the credit you deserve and recognise your achievements.

Something on your mind
Mindfulness, amongst its many benefits, can also help build resilience. An awareness of the moment can help you stay present and manage your reaction to challenges.

Mindfulness doesn’t need to be 90 minutes of meditation, it can be as simple as taking a minute to pay more attention to the present moment and to your own thoughts and feelings. Apps like Headspace and Calm have loads of mindfulness exercises to suit you and your lifestyle.

What do you think the key to happiness at work is? Share your hints and tips in the comments below.

1 reply
  1. Melissa Blissett
    Melissa Blissett says:

    This is a really interesting article Allan. We measure wellbeing against 6 pillars and consistently find financial wellbeing to be one of the lowest scoring of these. In a recent survey we found close to 20% of employees reported asking their employer for financial support.

    My suggestion would be to highlight financial concerns with a trusted Manager, as without the awareness of what difficulties employees are facing, it’s hard for HR Teams to ensure this is covered in benefit packages and workplace education.

    Even little reminders help e.g. putting through claims on a cash plan policy, getting financial counselling through some EAP’s or wider financial education available through many pension providers.

    Being in more financial control, can help improve happiness too!


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