5 Challenges for Happier [and More Productive] Work

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Summary: These five things may increase work happiness.

Often when people are in a job they don't like, they think of quitting in order to be happier, and sometimes with good reason. However, in today's tight economy, it probably would not be a good idea at all to quit a job without having a new one lined up. Below are some tips for appreciating the current job situation until something else comes along.

1. Stop comparing your salary to your co-workers income. Generally this is a mental habit that causes frustration, disappointment or even anger. Research conducted in Spain on happiness in the  workplace found unhappiness was linked to comparing one’s own salary to those of co-workers who make more.

Although it can be good to know how much your peers make in case any unfairness might be taking place such as the scenario with Lily Ledbetter, dwelling on salary comparisons typically makes people unhappy.

2. Whining tends to reduce morale and create stress in the workplace. Stanford University Robert Sapolsky said when workers consistently encounter negativity from their peers their memory, learning and judgement can be disrupted. (Stress apparently can shrink the hippocampus, a part of the brain that can produce new brain cells.)

Whining can also result in social isolation, because people typically don't enjoy being around individuals who are verbally negative. Social isolation in the workplace tends to make people unhappy and being socially connected is tied directly to happiness. Tony Hsieh, in his book Delivering Happiness, notes connectedness is one of the key components of happiness.

3. Ignoring stress is something we might all do from time to time, because we believe we don't have the time to stop and take a walk or have some quiet time for ten minutes in the midst of a frantic day. When we are chronically stressed we are actually less likely to generate creative ideas which might be the solutions we are yearning for at work. Taking regular breaks to walk, breathe, chat, eat or drink water is an important means of relaxing and preventing cumulative stress. Sometimes we become so tense over a period of time we don't even notice it, until we are irritable and likely to make a poor decision or snap at someone who we did not mean to upset.

4. Stop trying to control everything. This habit smacks of insecurity or fear. Everyone makes mistakes, so it is very unrealistic to expect there to be none. Being overly controlling is likely to be draining - if not exhausting - and it can impact co-workers in the same way. The state one gets in called flow,  where there is a sense of deep focus and enjoyment while engaged in an activity doesn't happen often if one's attitude is very controlling. What seems to make this more likely is an attitude of acceptance and responsiveness, rather than reacting with aggressive efforts to dominate.

5
. Give up the need to be right and have the last word. If there is a tendency on a personal level to fight over who is right instead of maintaining the peace, bonds between co-workers may be harmed or broken. Without these bonds to keep employees unified, things we often take for granted like etiquette, mutual respect and communication can break down. People who have a hard time communicating with each other are probably less likely to be happy working together. One research survey found that workers who said they didn't feel listened to, or emotionally comfortable at work were more likely to have accidents in the workplace.


Born as a book, Delivering Happiness is now a culture coachsultancy and a movement on a mission to inspire passion + purpose in workplaces around the world.

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About Jake Richardson

Jake Richardson

Jake Richardson is a frequent blogger & outdoor enthusiast.

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