Work can suck. Today, I’m not going to tell you to shift your perception. Instead, I’m going to share some tools to make it suck less. But first, let’s clarify something: Happiness at work is most often correlated to having a sense of meaning. That doesn’t mean that you should work at a nonprofit or be a doctor. In fact “meaning,” more often than not, is what we bring to the job rather than what we find at the job. And that involves being present.
Last night I attended Sharon Salzberg’s talk on her new book Real Happiness at Work. In the book and in her talk she discussed the 8 Pillars of happiness in the workplace: balance, concentration, compassion, resilience, communication & connection, integrity, meaning, and open awareness. One of Sharon’s many strengths is her authenticity. She is not a mediation teacher who expects perfection. Instead, she embraces the human experience and recognizes that meditation doesn’t serve you if you aren’t integrating it into your life. Below are some of my favorite takeaways on how to do this and be happier at work. They’re easy, actionable, and cost you nothing.
7 Easy Tips to Find Happiness at Work
- Before you start a project, meeting, or conversation, ask yourself: “What is my intention? What do I most want to see happen from this?”
- Before starting your workday, take a deep breath and set an intention. Sharon gave this example, “May I treat everyone today with respect, remembering each person wants to be happy as much as I do.”
- Notice how you’re holding something in your hand, such as a pen or cup. Are you holding on tightly? “Sometimes, we exert so much force holding things, it exacerbates tension without our realizing it.” Similarly, many of us suffer from “Email Apnea.” Simply put, it means we hold our breath as we’re writing and checking email like a bomb is about to go off. Notice the tension and breathe.
- Try to perform a simple act of kindness every day. Sharon included these examples: “holding an elevator door, saying thank you in a sincere manner, or listening to someone with a clear and focused mind.”
- Pay attention to your feelings. For instance, if you’re feeling irritated toward a co-worker, pay attention to your irritation, “not so much the story of why you’re irritated, but the actual feeling of it.” What does it feel like in your body? Where do you feel it? Identifying irritation as it starts helps you prevent an action you might later regret. “With a more immediate recognition of what we’re feeling, we have a choice as to how we want to respond in that moment.”
- If you’re feeling upset, consider helping someone out. “The more you help, the happier you can be.”
- Think about the people who make your job possible, such as a housekeeper, building staff or fundraiser – and thank them. (Yes, as a former fundraiser I think this is especially important!)