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Ways to be Happy

5 Tips to be happier in the workplace

Ways to be Happy

5 Tips to be happier in the workplace

Finding ways to be happy at work matters. As we discovered in our article: what causes happiness?, there is evidence that we can choose to be happier. But there is also growing support for the view that a happy person is likely to be more successful in the workplace. So how can we become happier and more productive at work?

Here we suggest 5 key areas:

  1. Strengths
  2. Service
  3. Relationships
  4. Performance
  5. Balance
1 – Build on strengths

Firstly, in what causes happiness? we highlighted the need to build on strengths. Research into both effective management and happiness suggests that there is real value in a focus on strengths.

It is far more effective to help people get better at what they are good at, rather than concentrating on weaknesses. Research into positive psychology has especially highlighted the value of a strengths focus. This is a key element in developing a balanced, healthy, happy life.

Try to build more activities into your work which you enjoy, engage your strengths, and lead to meaningful results.

2 – Serve others

It seems that the old saying: “it’s better to give then receive” has some basis in fact. There is growing evidence that we’re happier when we do things which helps others. When our strengths are used to serve others we are more likely to cultivate happiness. Imagine if this kind of approach was adopted more widely in your organisation. How would it impact your customers if you were able to demonstrate real concern for their needs? How would it help colleagues to develop and grow? What would it do for the synergies to gained from teamwork, a sense of togetherness or camaraderie? Serving others is not just good for your happiness, it’s good for business.

3 – Create good working relationships and connections

There are a number of sources and surveys that suggest we’re far more affected by relationships with our immediate manager, than with the wider organisation. It’s managers that make the difference. It’s easier to endure a difficult situation when we are managed well. We’re equally more likely to put up with a poor organisation if we have a good manager, than vice versa. However good the organisation, a poor working relationship with our line manager will eventually have the biggest impact. So the relationship people have with their manager really matters.

But it is not the relationship with our bosses that matters. Ask what is most likely to help others find happiness in life and work and the answer is surprisingly clear. It is our relatedness and connected-ness with others. The bonds we form with others make a big difference to our happiness.

Happy people seem to have better social connections. Creating the conditions for good relationships at work is perhaps more important than we think.

4 – Think about your performance

There are significant performance benefits when the activities we choose to do combine: challenge; using our strengths; and doing something we love. This can lead to a feeling of being “in-the-zone” or “in the flow”. This is when things seem easy to us, yet we are also very productive. Mihalyi Csíkszentmihályi (pronounced: Chick-sent-me-high-ee), who developed the idea of “flow”, states that we’re happiest when absorbed in activities that balance challenging tasks with appropriate skill levels (our strengths).

He found that when people say they love what they do, they are often engaged in work or other activities which they find intrinsically rewarding. They are in a state of effortless concentration which he calls “flow” – an easy metaphor with which to identify.

5 – Build balance into what you do

Our final suggestion is perhaps the most important. It is to make sure you build balance into what you do. Happiness at work should flow from being happy in life. For many reasons it is important to not let yourself become defined by your work. Happy people, it seems are more able to cope with difficulties at work often because they are rounded people, with a strong social network and have other roles outside of work.

It is all too easy to let a long hour culture masquerade as a productive workplace. We often need to be reminded that it is not the quantity of time you spend at work that matters, but the quality of work you do with your time. There is much to be said for John Ruskin’s wise words:

“In order that people may be happy in their work, these three things are needed: they must be fit for it; they must not do too much of it; and they must have a sense of success in it.”

It seems that people are happier at work when they use their strengths, matching the right degree of challenge with their skills. When they serve others, achieving meaningful results, in an atmosphere of camaraderie. And happier people contribute more to the success of an organisation.

So finding ways to be happy at work is definitely worth the effort!

Workplace well-being resources

Workplace Well-being e-guides

For more resources on this topic, take a look at our great-value guides. These include some excellent tools to help your personal development plan. The best-value approach is to buy our Workplace Well-being bundle, available from the store.

We’ve bundled together these five e-guides at half the normal price! Read the guides in this order, and use the tools in each, and you’ll be well on your way to achieving your personal development plan. (6 pdf guides, 138 pages, 24 tools, for half price!)

Have a Good Workday (16 pages, 4 tools)
How to be a Happy Manager (15 tips with action checklists)
Workstyle, Lifestyle (31 pages, 5 tools)
Managers Make the Difference (27 pages, 5 tools)
Managing from Strength to Strength (22 pages, 5 tools)
Making Change Personal (22 pages, 5 tools)

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