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Happiness and the Workplace

Work and joy are not always words that are placed in the same sentence. Here’s why they should be. 

Research consistently shows that employees are more successful when they are feeling engaged, fulfilled and enthusiastic about their jobs. University of Pennsylvania Senior Fellow Annie McKee believes that there are ways to help workers rediscover their joy. Her new book is “How to Be Happy at Work.”

McKee believes that there are a number of factors that have interfered with job satisfaction. (Gallup reports that 2/3 of workers rate their job satisfaction as “neutral.”) She suggests that overwork, misplaced ambition, and singular focus on money get in the way of true happiness. But what can workers do about that?

McKee recommends the following:

  • Examine the daily tasks of the job and identify the ones that feel particularly rewarding and bring confidence.
  • Get a clear sense of personal needs, hopes, wants and motivations and create work goals that capitalize on the tasks that bring joy.
  • Focus on the positive. It is easy to dwell on the frustrations, but spend time recognizing the things that are working well.
  • Create friendships or positive collegial relationships. These bonds add to satisfaction in significant ways.
  • Take a walk or exercise for 10 minutes.
  • Meditate for a few minutes in the office.
  • Write a note in a journal about the best moment in the past day.

Happiness is important for many reasons. Happy people are better learners, make better decisions, show more resiliency and are healthier.

Looking for a few quick ways to increase happiness in the meantime?

Read more about McKee’s book in “Three Keys to Happiness” and PBS Newshour, and for a few more thoughts on positivity at work, check out “Positive Intelligence.”

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