How many people do you know who are happy at work? – (I fully realise that there are other factors influencing our feelings but for the next few minutes, lets focus on work.)
Yes, I know it’s a big question, you are reading lots about happiness at work on social media and it even makes the TV news. In a sense it’s too big, too nebulous – what does “happy” mean anyway?! Like me, you could be pondering that one all day so…..
Let me ask another question or two.
How many people do you know who talk about their job with passion, who wake up in the morning (well, most mornings anyway) and actually look forward to going to work with a sense of excitement and anticipation about what the day will bring?
I know a few folks who fit into that category… but I know others of all ages, who often wake up with a cocktail of less welcome feelings spinning around inside. Such feelings can include, anxiety, panic, dread, depression, boredom and in some cases, such an overwhelming mixture of the above that they would and occasionally do, turn right back over and bed down for a duvet day. If this continues, wellbeing suffers and mental health problems can arise.
“So, if I want to be happier at work, what can I do about it?” I hear you say!
Firstly, if you are the person looking forward to work….celebrate that, and spread a little of your enthusiasm within your team.. although the chances are they’re pretty happy too, because you work in the same place. Culture is a key influencer on the happiness barometer!
1. Get curious
If, however, you are hiding under the duvet or starting to feel that that would be a preferred option on a regular basis, then you need to do some detective work. Channelling your inner detective is useful but be careful…. the type of questions you ask yourself are key to what you will learn and to how quickly you solve the mystery and move forward.
2. Have a go at this thought experiment.
Ask yourself the following questions. (In my experience, these are the questions that people ask, as clients usually come to work with me having worked out all of the answers to them)
Be disciplined and only spend a few seconds on each response and then move on.
- How do I feel? What emotions can I identify here?
- What is wrong at work that is making me feel this way?
- How long have I been feeling this bad for?
- What are the main problems and who is responsible?
- Whose fault is this and……
- What should they be doing about it?
How do you feel when you ask yourself these questions? Better… or worse and more likely to hibernate?
3. Get curious in a different way with a new focus
Now….. wipe the slate clean, look around the room, look at something that makes you smile, ground yourself in the present moment, take a breath or two and ask yourself this new set of questions:-
- What feelings do I notice when I breathe, focus inward and notice what is going on for me?
- What are the work based triggers that are impacting so strongly on my mindset and feelings? ( useful to identify in relation to taking action)
- How do I want to feel?
- What would I like to happen at work, that would help me to feel more energised, happier and to get my spark back?
- What CAN I actually do to begin to take control, feel more energised and get my spark back?
- What one thing WILL I do today, that will start to make a positive difference?
How do you feel now? – Feedback strongly shows that the proactive and solution focused, second set of questions, help to empower people and inspire a more positive, optimistic and motivated approach to change. This relates to Emotional Intelligence so feel free to check back to this post for more on EQ Emotional Intelligence at Work. What’s it all about?
If you have done the thought experiment and noticed the positive impact of the second set of questions, follow through.
Do one thing differently every day and begin to notice the differences. Let me know your experiences. Either comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Part two (look out for my next post), will explore some tried and tested examples of actions you can take to increase your happiness and wellbeing at work and in general.
Until next time…