The Pursuit of Happiness
Chasing moments of joy at work isn’t as much of an impossible task as you’d imagine Published in Fit Life magazine, July 2019. By Roxy Greeff A PROBLEM THAT MANY of us face in today’s society, and certainly in the workplace, is the habit of focusing on what is wrong and what we don’t like about our lives and our jobs. From this realisation, positive psychology was born. Instead of focusing on what isn’t working in people and their lives and relationships, this branch of learning is centred around joy, resilience and flourishing. We sought the advice of industrial and organisational psychologist and career and life coach, Ann Wermer, to find out what we can do to ensure we squeeze every inch of happiness we can from our work days, making sure we spend our time enhancing our resilience, creativity, well-being and happiness. ‘Once you get started with changing the focus of what’s really wrong with you, to what’s really good about you, you can begin to work with creating more of the future that you desire,’ explains Ann. This rings true for the workplace as well. No matter your profession or your set up, there are ways you can ensure you bring the maximum amount of joy to your work days. IF YOU’RE IN AN OFFICE Find your strengths, and work with them! ‘This is what will make you feel alive,’ explains Ann, a feeling we all need when chaos reigns first thing on a Monday morning. ‘Try to redesign your job to capitalise on your strengths. In this way, you will come closer to finding your flow, where your strengths and your skills match the demands of the situation.’ Think about it, when doing work you do well, you enjoy the task and experience total focus. The plus side is when your boss or clients see that you are confident, they will entrust you with more interesting work and to let you run with your own ideas. People who are overconfident in their abilities may come off as annoying but excess of humility is just as frustrating. Find someone to inspire you. Whether it’s someone in a position you admire, or a fictional character who has a work ethic you’d like in reality, make a note of which of their qualities you aspire to. ‘Act on them to raise your own bar.’ Create solid connections in the office. Creating connections with your colleagues is not only good for teamwork, but are also personally energising and mutually appreciative. Ann has identified four easy ways to help you bond with your colleagues: • Engage with each other respectfully by affirming each other in your work and being fully present when working or chatting together. • Offer support to help them succeed in their goals. This can take the form of being a shoulder to lean on if they need someone to talk to or stepping in to help them get over a crazy deadline. • Trust your colleagues and show that you trust them in your attitudes and behaviour. This means not CCing in your boss every time you email them or checking up on them constantly when you’re working on a group project, for example. • Be playful and laugh with your colleagues every chance you get. There is always time for light-hearted fun and messing around for no other reason than simply to build up your camaraderie while adding some enjoyment, entertainment and gratification to your day. WHEN DOING WORK YOU DO WELL, YOU ACTUALLY ENJOY THE TASK AND EXPERIENCE TOTAL FOCUS Making The Most Of A Bad Deadline These are the moments when you feel hate for your job the most, but even when you’re going through a crazy deadline, there are few simple thinking techniques to apply to keep your spirits up: Think Positive Thoughts Trust us, this works. Try not to dwell too much on a bad deadline unless you’re thinking of solutions to get through it. Instead, direct your thoughts to what an amazing project it is and how it will all be worth it when you experience the joy of seeing the finished product. Cultivate Acceptance Now that you’re in the thick of it, there’s no point in complaining about how you got there or talking about what should have been done differently. You’ll have time for that later. But for now, just accept that it is what it is. Be Patient Simply tell yourself that in a few days (or hours) from now, the deadline will have been met and everything that you’re currently feeling will have disappeared. ON YOUR COMMUTE Find Inspiration There is inspiration to be found anywhere and everywhere, even on a packed bus! Using public transport? This is the perfect time to read. Indulge in podcasts and ebooks all of which are amazing ways to spend the time, especially if it’s reading or listening to content you love. Perform An Act Of Kindness Give up your seat for a mother taking her little one to school or an elderly person, or even just someone who looks like they aren’t having the best day. These little acts are so far-and-few between that their gratitude alone will brighten up your own day. According to The Random Acts Of Kindness Foundation, good deeds can reduce anxiety, stress and blood pressure. Kindness and generosity are contagious and can be taught by observation. Savour Your Happy Moments Have you ever seen that person in their car smiling to themselves. There’s no reason that can’t be you. We know that the commute to work is often the worst part of your day, but this is a really good time to reminisce on the good times. Ann says, ‘Rethink positive and happy moments. For example, your child returning from overseas, meeting up with a friend you hadn’t seen in a long while, sharing a belly-rocking laugh with someone until you were replete with joy! These memories are likely to make you smile, and with that your mood will be elevated. This is because of all the positive feel-good neurotransmitters released through that and simple and tiny movement.’ IF YOU WORK FROM HOME Meditate One of the amazing benefits of working from home, is that your hours are your own and you can take the time you need from your day to practice mindfulness. Studies have found that meditation can reduce anxiety and improve sleep and emotional health. ‘You do not need to be a mystic to do this,’ says Ann. ‘In a quiet space, simply focus on your breathing. Notice how each breath flows in and out, and keep bringing your awareness back to your breathing every time your mind wanders.’ Schedule Social Breaks One of the downsides of working from home is that there are no other people around. ‘Feeling lonely is increasingly felt by so many, especially if you’re alone in your home space.’ Whether you arrange to meet someone for coffee for lunch or have a Skype date with a friend or your partner, make sure that you have regular social activities planned. Make The Most Of The Benefit Of Working From Home There’s no need to feel guilty about enjoying all the perks of working from home. Take advantage of being able to prepare an amazing lunch for yourself every day, taking power naps when you need them, wear whatever clothes you want (if you feel like you need a pyjama day, we won’t stop you!) and get any annoying errands or chores done when you have a gap to free up your weekends. DURING YOUR LUNCH BREAK Go outside Research says that people these days tend to spend 93% of their time indoors. Nature can positively influence all aspects of our being, and people who spend 20 minutes only outside a day (especially when the weather is good) show great improvement in expansive thinking, working memory and positive mood,’ Ann explains. Even if you don’t have any typical nature to walk in close to where you work, just being outside to feel the sunshine and breathe in some non-conditioned air will give you the lift you need for the second half of the day. Chat to a friend This is especially important if you’ve had a rough day at work already. Find that one friend or colleague who you know can make you laugh no matter what. Give them a call or invite them to lunch so they can inject a bit of happiness into your inevitable bad day. Eat your lunch mindfully We know you’re busy and have too much to do, but in these instances it’s almost more important than ever to take your full lunch break and enjoy your meal. ‘Find a place and mindfully eat your lunch, being aware of the taste and sensation, and all the hands that shared in making the food for you, and then feel grateful!’ Ann advises. This is not only pleasure for pleasure’s sake, something we all deserve, but it also reduces stress, eases digestion and prevents you from overeating.