If you feel unhappy at work, you are not alone; work-related stress is one of the most common problems reported by working individuals.
Some have demanding clients and constant, short deadlines. Others have bosses who are incompetent, unsympathetic or who expect subordinates to ignore or cover up unethical practices. Still, others simply don't enjoy the work that they do, finding it boring, unfulfilling or meaningless.
If anything I just described sounds familiar, don't assume that you need a new job to feel happier at work. Indeed, making an effort to improve your happiness, regardless of where you are employed, can yield beneficial workplace outcomes that once seemed out of reach.
In fact, research suggests that, compared to those who are unhappy, happy people are better leaders, more productive, better at coping with stress, less likely to get sick and have higher salaries1. Although your job might be unbearable right now, trying some of the simple strategies below can transform your daily experience and give you a fresh start at work.
1. Write down 3 things that went well.
It might be difficult to imagine them, but focus on three good things that happened at work. Think carefully about your co-workers, where you work, the kind of work that you do or any other important details that remind you of the positive things about your job.
One study done at an international technology company found that employees who recalled three positive, work-related events once a week for six weeks were happier, more motivated, more productive and more diligent, compared to employees who did not do this activity2. Try this at the end of your workday or when you get home. If you need some inspiration, look no further than some of America's worst jobs, and you might have a newfound appreciation for what you do!
2. Don’t take things personally.
It's natural to feel hostility and resentment toward co-workers. This normally happens, because we take it personally if someone makes a rude comment or ignores our request for help. Remember that if you don't like your job, your co-workers probably don't either. Isn't it hard to be courteous and professional day after day at a job you dislike? Nine times out of ten, it's nothing personal if someone does something that upsets you.
Take a moment to remember a time when you did something that negatively affected someone else. Was that personal? If not, give someone else the benefit of the doubt, too.
1. Lyubomirsky, S., King, L., & Diener, E. (2005). The benefits of frequent positive affect: Does happiness lead to success? Psychological Bulletin, 6, 803-855. 2. Chancellor, J. (2012). Effects of regularly practicing a positive activity on well-being, behavioral rhythm, and social interactions at a Japanese workplace. Manuscript in preparation.
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