Happiness at Work - - Is it Possible?

By: Karla Brandau


Do you ever feel lethargic and lost at work? Do you ever feel vulnerable and powerless, like a tiny cog in a huge machine? Do you wish that you could be truly happy at work?

"Happiness at work is elusive," says psychiatrist Dr. Kerry J. Sulkowicz. Sulkowicz teaches that a better goal is to enjoy your work and strive for high performance. That is more realistic. Why? Happiness is complex. It is difficult to sustain for long periods of time. It often ebbs and flows with the people around you. Ultimately, however, it has to come from within.

The old saying "Don't put all of your eggs in one basket" has application here. You will be happier if you have a variety of relationships and environments you can turn to in times of stress. You may have experienced upheaval at home and found work relationships helped you through. In converse, when things were chaotic at work, personal/home relationships might have sustained you. Emotionally there is a great need to have a variety of social groups, associations, work groups, and environments to support and sustain you when you emotionally feel at odds with something in the universe.

Of high importance in the happiness quest is to understand root causes. When identified, root causes give you clues to why you feel vulnerable and powerless. For instance, I was in a situation in a corporation where I was expected to be merely a puppet, doing exactly what the manager said and acting precisely when he pulled my strings. When I found myself angry at the people around me, both at home and at work, I had to step back and analyze why I was so unhappy inside. I finally realized that the root cause of my anger was my manager who was not allowing me to collaborate, have input, think through and solve problems related to my work. Once I identified, admitted to myself and accepted what was happening at that moment in time, my anger subsided. I no longer felt vulnerable. I felt powerful because I could handle what was happening on the inside. Resolving the conflict on the inside made it possible for me to be stable and happy on the outside. I was able to maintain my workload, decrease my stress, and restore good relationships with friends and family outside of work.

The ups and downs of work life are inevitable. Looking aimlessly for happiness in everything that happens at work makes you feel lethargic and lost. Your happiness cannot be based on your organization's bottom line or stock price of your company. If you this is what has made you happy in the past, your happiness goes up and down like a yo-yo. Understanding who you are, recognizing your strengths, and identifying your contributions makes it easier to maintain energy, power and your position as a vital cog in the wheel of progress in your organization and in the world. You will be happier and more productive.

Tips for being happy in your work environment:

  1. Ground your identity. Know who you are and understand your inner power.
  2. Surround yourself with friends and relationships in many different environments.
  3. Look for the root causes of unhappiness and stress. Identify and either accept them or proactively seek to change them.
  4. Strive for excellence and consistent productivity.

2006 Karla Brandau. All Rights Reserved.

Karla Brandau, CSP, is a speaker and a leading authority on productivity, work/life balance and leadership skills. Karla is the author of "Wake up the Winner Inside" and "Goal Setting: Invent your Future." Karla can be contacted at brandau.articles@gmail.com or at her website: http://www.karlabrandau.com.