While it’s true that the work we do is what helps us put food on the table, it’s also one of the biggest sources of unhappiness and stress in our life. Many of us wake up each day going through the motions, waiting and wishing for the day to be over. When it ends, we go home, sleep, and prepare for yet another day in the office. Unless we come up with something to break the monotony, it won’t be long until boredom and discontent sinks in.
Srikumar Rao a Columbia University academic and best-selling author of Happiness at Work, trainsGoogle employees on happiness. He believes that the biggest obstacle to happiness is simply the belief that we are prisoners of circumstance and that we are powerless and not in control of what happens to us. Rao stresses that we ARE in control of our own happiness and that we can achieve it by creating our own experience.
Let’s explore how we can find happiness at work by changing the way we look at things.
Value of Practicing “Extreme Resilience”
Extreme resilience is the ability to recover fast from adversity, writes Rao in his book. He explains that many people spend so much time in “needless, fruitless self-recrimination and blaming others,”. He further adds that practicing extreme resilience enables us to recover and rise from the occasion so we can get back to doing great things instead of going on a guilt-trip and making excuses. Rao also points out that there is no need to practice resilience if we follow his advice about avoiding labels and tagging things as “bad”.
Neither Good nor Bad
Many things can happen in the office but they are neither good nor bad. When something does not go according to plan or when your day feels less than perfect, don’t beat yourself up, says Rao. He adds that when you make an error, be aware of it without passing judgment. Do what you have to do to rectify the situation but never let things get in the way of your sense of calm and peace.
Rao explains that putting labels of “good” or “bad” affects the way you look at things. When you start saying things at work are bad, your mind associates it with negative feelings that can greatly affect your work performance for the next task you do. Rao recommends looking at things in the neutral so that you do not create unnecessary vicious cycles during the day.
What is your Passion ?
Many of us make the mistake of finding passion at work when we should be finding it within us. It is easy to think about what we feel should be an ideal job for us and we often lose ourselves in thinking of a perfect workplace scenario. Rao writes that we should be spending time changing the way we look at our present job instead of searching for something perfect or even believing it exists.
Spend Less Time Feeling Jealous
Rao credits “dropping the past” and letting go of grudges as a primary component of finding happiness at work. He acknowledges that doing so is not easy but encourages people to do it just the same saying that ”with practice you will get the hang of it.”
Jealousy is a negative emotion that has no place at work. “When you’re jealous you’re saying that the universe is limited and there’s not enough success in it for me,” says Rao. He adds that you should “Instead, be happy, because whatever happened to him (the other person) will happen to you in your current job or at another company.”
Think of “Then and Now” But Forget About “If and Then”
Rao provides some unusual insights into the importance of then and now. He writes that “most problems that kept you awake ten years ago have disappeared,” so “much of what troubles you today will also vanish.” This is a simple yet powerful way of looking at things in a different perspective.
Rao also discourages the flawed thinking of “if and then”. Many of us are guilty of equating our happiness with things of monetary value. We think that IF we have this and that, THEN we’ll be happy. Rao writes about this with simplicity: “there is nothing that you have to get, do or be in order to be happy.”
Finding happiness at work allows us to rise above trivial and mundane things that cloud our vision and impair our ability to look at the bright side. The tips above barely scratch the surface but they should be enough to help change our perspective and ultimately lead us into discovering more things to keep us happy at/with work.
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