Where is the happiness?
Our happiness at work matters – it matters for our success, our sense of purpose, our well-being and our physical, mental and emotional health. It matters because we spend up to 70,000 hours of our lives working. 70,000 hours. Yet still, we all know people – our friends, family, significant others – who spend year after year stuck in a job that they despise.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t do something I don’t like for more than 15 minutes. Let alone 70,000 hours.
So what do we do about it? How do we get happier at work?
I want to share with you 3 secrets to happiness at work. These are three unconventional secrets that I’ve learned during my career and while writing my new book, The Lemonade Life. I think these three secrets will truly enhance your well-being, make you happier and help you thrive and lead a better, aspirational life – a life that I call The Lemonade Life. Are they the only secrets to happiness at work? No, but they will help you reprogram your mind and rewire your brain toward positive emotions and a positive mindset.
1. The first secret to happiness at work is “Have a really bad job”.
I firmly believe that having a bad job can truly change the trajectory of your life.
Your worst job can be your best job. It can be your greatest moment of professional clarity. If you’ve had a bad job, you have experienced with precision everything that’s wrong with the organization. You see how a bad boss functions, and you see all the bad decisions: the missed revenue opportunities, the foregone business development, the wasted costs and the poor leadership skills.
I bet if I asked you, you could tell me all the ways to create more revenue streams, how to improve the bottom line, how the best leaders should operate and how you would improve the organization’s culture. You probably have an action plan to make the right changes at the organization. This is not to say that having only good jobs won’t make you happy or successful because it can too. But when you only have good jobs, it’s possible you lose some hunger, you’re not on your toes, and you may coast through.
So, if you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of having a bad job, it will give you more insight into management, leadership, efficiency, culture, empathy, creativity and a host of other important skills. Extract the inherent learnings and use it to apply toward your next job so you can ultimately thrive. I strongly believe that you will be better off for it.
2. The second secret to happiness at work is to “Have a ‘can’t do’ attitude.”
We all know what it means to have a can-do attitude. Typically, we think of a someone who is dedicated, loyal and who says: “Of course I can do that.” However, the problem with a “can-do” attitude is that there is a natural information asymmetry. Expectations may be mismatched—that is, the person making the request mistakenly equates a can-do attitude with a guarantee that the person will finish the job accurately and on time. So, having a “can do” attitude can lead to unrealistic commitments and can result in over-promising and under-delivering.
A “can’t-do attitude” is knowing when you can shine and when you can’t, when you’re the expert and when you’re the novice. A “can’t do attitude” is the antidote to information asymmetry. It’s about honesty. It’s about transparency. It’s a proactive approach that demonstrates leadership because it shows your ability for self-awareness and good judgment to identify your strengths and weaknesses.
When you have a can’t do attitude, you’re transparent and you’re upfront about your capabilities, strengths and shortcomings. You own mistakes. You hold yourself accountable. People are more willing to cooperate with those who have a “can’t do” attitude and work with them toward a common purpose. When you speak your truth, your voice is genuine, and your message has greater impact. When you say what you mean, it’s better for problem-solving, accomplishing goals, building stronger human connections, increasing productivity and fostering honest relationships.
3. The third secret to happiness at work is to “Give away your happiness.”
We’re not operating only as individuals each finding happiness. In our organizations, we operate as a team working to fulfill a mission and joint purpose. So, you’re not only responsible for your own happiness, but you’re also responsible to spread happiness to others. That’s what make organizations and teams thrive. We need to lift up each other. Research shows that when we share happiness, when we give to others, when we show gratitude, we not only boost the happiness of others, but also we boost our own happiness.
I implore you to give away your happiness. Share your energy and be a positive force for good. Show empathy, loyalty and respect to create camaraderie and purpose for those on your team.
When you have a bad job, have a can’t do attitude and give away your happiness, you’re on the path to learning the secrets to happiness at work.
For more on “The Secrets To Happiness At Work,” you can check out my TEDx Talk.