• PASword Express

Happiness and Work

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PASWord Express Volume 20 Issue 1

Do you wake up on Monday morning thinking “Yes! I get to go to work today!”? If you do, congratulations! You have achieved something that many people struggle to find – that is, a joy in going to work. And with research showing that on average Americans spend 42.3 hours per week at work, the idea of being happy while being at work is appealing.

So what is the secret? How can you achieve happiness at work? Does being “happy” at work really make a difference? Studies show that it helps – a lot. According to research done by the New York Times, workers performed better at work not because of more responsibilities or higher pressure to achieve, but because they were happily engaged in what they were doing.


Let’s start with the idea of enthusiasm. Having a strong interest or passion for the work that you do is important to finding happiness at work. Drive and desire are often more important that natural ability or knowledge. The passion for a cause leads to the desire to learn more about it, which leads to an eagerness to make an impact in that area, which leads to a feeling of satisfaction about spending time on that cause. It becomes a positive cycle where the work feeds our need to feel valued and that what we do is worthwhile.

Personal Challenge: What part of your work are you passionate about? Define it, focus on it, and use it as motivation to build your enthusiasm at work.


Another component for happiness at work is challenge. In her book “The Happiness Project”, Gretchen Rubin talks about the benefit of challenging yourself to go outside the comfort zone of the familiar and comfortable to find satisfaction in achieving something new. “One reason that challenge brings happiness is that it allows you to expand your self-definition. You become larger.” Growing skills beyond what you already have leads to feelings of achievement and self-approval.

Personal Challenge: Is there a skill you would like to grow? Identify that skill and steps you can take to achieving it.


Happiness is an attitude. We either make ourselves miserable, or happy and strong. The amount of work is the same. ~Francesca Reigler

The only way to do great work is to love what you do. ~Steve Jobs


People who are happy at work also maintain a healthy perspective about challenges and adversity. They realize that there are peaks and valleys, ebbs and flows to events and projects. The ability to see the bigger picture and not get bogged down or stuck whenever an unexpected or undesired result occurs keeps them balanced. Energy is focused on moving forward, solving problems, and reaching for the next opportunity.

Personal Challenge: Is there a “valley” you are facing right now? Ask yourself, “How can my time and energy be best used right here, right now, to improve this situation?”

Being Present

Lastly, Focus on the present. So often we are focused on future goals and achievements that we forget that the present is the only place we live in, not the future (or the past). Happy people realize that satisfaction comes from not just achieving the goal, but also from performing the process of reaching the goal. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Life is a journey, not a destination.”

Personal Challenge: Identify one of the goals you hope to achieve. Now think about the steps it will take to get there. Focus on the satisfaction of achieving each step and take joy in each achievement. Don’t wait until the final goal to feel fulfilled.

In the end, finding happiness at work comes down to individual choices. We have the power of choice, and that makes all the difference. We can choose to focus on adversity and negativity, or we can choose to find joy in the challenges and achievements of our work. The approach we choose is entirely up to us.