Joy at work. Some people scoff at the very idea. Most likely, these folks have never been happy in their career. Maybe they do not even believe it is possible. Work is not fun, right? I have compassion. But while employers can make it easy to be miserable, people often choose unhappiness as well.
In fact, a pathetically low number of office workers say they love their job — just 24 percent. There is hope for improvement though. You can actually be happy and fulfilled at work — every day even — no matter what you do or where you do it.
Joy and work are not at odds with each other. In fact, I believe that meaningful work is one of life’s greatest gateways to lasting happiness.
I recently wrote about how company leaders can prioritize joy for the team. This means setting a clear vision, creating space for individual creativity, and prioritizing learning for everyone on the team — so everybody can be and do their best.
There is no meaningful threshold that separates work from life. Although it may run counterintuitive to what you have heard, work-life balance does not exist. Work is life, and life is work. Harmony is what we should aim for, and joy should be at the center of that pursuit.
It takes leadership — but it also takes individual desire. Desire to do well, be happy, make tomorrow better than today, and help others succeed as well. It takes the mindset that happiness is within reach.
If you want happiness in your whole life, you must make room for joy at work.
Think about it: We spend more time at our jobs than anywhere else and more time with our colleagues than we do with our family. Creating the frame of mind for joy is key to our well-being.
Now, I am not saying that you are going to love every minute of work or should cherish a cruel boss or toxic culture. But once you have found a team that generally allows you to thrive, you owe it to yourself and your company to feel better and be better.
It just takes a commitment to small actions that can help you get there:
You express gratitude to your co-workers when they go beyond what is asked. (At Aha! we call this “hatitude.”) But do you do the same for yourself? Humility is great, but do not take it too far. When you work hard and achieve exceptional results, take a deep breath and relish a moment of pride and thankfulness for yourself. Say it out loud even. Let that affirmation fuel you to tackle the next challenge with renewed passion and energy.
You will make mistakes. Be kind to yourself when things do not go right. If you have done the absolute best that you can with the information you have available, then let things fall where they may. And understand that if you never make an error, it would mean you were not pushing yourself hard enough.
It is true that not everything will go as planned. (Product managers know this well.) And how you respond to obstacles and challenges directly affects your ability to be happy. Will you focus on the negative and let it crush you? Or will you look for lessons in the experience and how you can use those to do better next time? By reframing positively you give yourself the chance to reclaim a setback as a learning opportunity.
Strive to be great in all that you do and help others do the same. It is the best way I know to experience joy and reduce suffering.
You want to succeed. Yes, that means trying to realize specific individual and company goals. But not everybody will take the same path to reach those goals. And that is where conflict sometimes arises.
Respect others. Help them do well and feel good that you did so. Because when those around you are performing at their highest level, there is more joy for all. Work hard and be happy at work. It definitely takes the right team environment, but it also requires you take action to make it so.
How do you find happiness at work?