By James Johnatakis – Transition Engineer

Ask yourself, are you happy at work? Really, are you happy at work or are you just putting in your time before you leave? Do you truly look forward to work, or do you dread the idea of getting back into the grind? Or do you find yourself somewhere in-between?

A few weeks ago, I was on my way to the office and I stopped by my local convenience store. In passing, I asked the counter clerk how she was doing. She said, “Oh, I can’t wait for my shift to be over”. This off-the-cuff comment set me aback. I did not expect it, but it did cause me to ponder…why am I happy to spend my day at work while others are not?

Would it surprise you to know that happiness at work is largely up to you? I am sure many reading this would say otherwise, but it is my strong belief that being happy at work is a choice and there are studies that back me up. Look at your own work history. What does it tell you? Have you been mostly happy or unhappy with your jobs? When you are miserable, what was your attitude? Conversely, what was your attitude when you enjoyed your work? Can we look at your own work history and say it is you that has the most influence over your happiness at work?

Here are 5 ways that help me be happier at work:

  1. Just be positive. Keep your glass half full and not half empty. Look at what you do at work as an opportunity. Correct yourself when you are finding yourself being a “Negative Nellie”.
  2. Figure out what you like to do at work and then focus on it. If you need, make it a reward for getting through the tougher parts of your job. Take scheduled and appropriate breaks away from your desk. Tackle the tough parts of your job and become better than anyone else at it (at least that works for me).
  3. Avoid negative people. Or at least try to keep your contact with them as limited as possible. If you need, pull them aside and see if you can encourage them to be more positive. It is not normally politically correct to say, “Hey you are being negative, stop it!”, but other ways could be used. Avoid trigger questions like “how is work” and replace them with statements like, “you did a great job on the Peterman project”, or, “I saw how you handled the network issue and I think you did an excellent job”.
  4. Avoid all gossip. In the workplace, gossip tends to segment individuals and it is just not productive. If you participate in gossip, what will others think you are doing behind their backs? Plus, I have found those that gossip are often negative people at work.
  5. Find positive people to associate with at work. Make the opportunities to work with them if you need to. Find out how they are happy and mirror it. Take them to lunch and interview them if you need. I have rarely found a positive person that does not want to share how to be positive.
  6. And for extra credit, a 6th step. Once you have happiness at work, you have to continue to cultivate it. Like a garden, you have to weed and feed constantly. Why would you want to work on being happy to just let it go away? So find what makes you happy and cultivate it. Is it helping others, learning new things or is it new challenges? Look for what keeps you happy and make room for it in your busy schedule.

I will say it again, with few exceptions, the difference between the positive and negative person is the attitude. It is your choice to be happy at work. Are you willing to do what it takes for happiness or are you satisfied with being miserable at work?