Is Job Happiness a Fairy-Tale?
Michael, a senior manager in his mid-thirties, has a secure job with a decent salary that enables him to comfortably support his wife and small daughter. When asked what he loves about his work, he responds: "I don't love anything about my work. It's just a job. Does anyone really love their job?"
Jon Gordon, the Wall Street Journal bestselling author, believes that everyone can and should not only love their job, but find passion, purpose and happiness in it as well. In fact, he's written a book about it, and although it's a work of fiction, he uses it as a parable to prove his point.
The book, called "The Seed: Finding Purpose and Happiness in Life and Work" (Wiley) is about Josh, an up and comer in his company who has lost his passion at work. His boss, who has noticed Josh's apathy and poor performance, challenges Josh to take two weeks to decide if he really wants to work there.
Josh then heads to the country, where he meets a farmer who hands Josh a seed and tells him that when he discovers the right place to plant the seed his purpose will be revealed to him.
It may sound like a Jack and the Beanstalk fairy-tale, but Gordon hopes readers come away learning a few very important points about finding happiness in their work:
1. Focus on 'get to' instead of 'have to.'
While commuting to work, focus on what you "get to" do instead of what you "have to" do. Realize with gratitude that you don't 'have to' do anything. You 'get to' go to a job while so many are unemployed. Gratitude floods your body and brain with emotions that uplift and energize you, as opposed to stress hormones that drain you.
2. Don't expect your boss,and customers to make you happy.
Realize that happiness is an inside job. Our happiness has less to do with forces outside of us and more to do with what's inside of us. The way we think and feel about work influences our happiness at work. You'll also be happier when you focus on what you are giving instead of what you are getting.
If you want to be happier, don't seek happiness. Instead share your strengths and decide to work with passion and purpose, and happiness will find you. Research shows that people are most energized when they are using their strengths for a bigger purpose beyond themselves. Whatever your job, decide to bring passion to it and find purpose in it. Every job will get mundane and "old" if you let it, but purpose and passion keep it fresh and make you happier.
4. Focus on excellence instead of success.
When you focus on success you easily can fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others, looking over your shoulder, feeling envious, playing office politics and competing against co-workers instead of collaborating. However, when you focus on excellence, you measure yourself against your own growth and potential. You strive to be the best you can be. You simply focus on getting better every day and this makes work more meaningful and rewarding.
5. Celebrate together.
While we shouldn't depend on others to make us happy, by building a positive team or support group at work, we will be happier. Instead of expecting others to make you happy, you proactively create the positive relationships that enhance your engagement, productivity and happiness. One great way to do this is to huddle with your team/group at the end of the week and have each person share their accomplishments, victories and great moments of the week.
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