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How to Be Happy in Your Work, Even
When the World is Falling Apart
Gini Graham Scott, Ph.D.,
author of ENJOY!: 101 Little Ways to Add Fun to Your Work
Everyday (originally appeared in the
As each day brings more and more bad news about the economy and the
latest business failure and layoffs, I’ve been thinking about how
this is an ideal time to put more fun in your work and your life.
Consider it an antidote to today’s doom and gloom, just what the
doctor ordered to rejuvenate yourself.
To this end, think about
the principles of happiness and how you might apply them to your own
situation today. Whether you are still employed, recently lost your
job, or are looking again, this can be just what you need to bring
back some joy and lightness into your life. If you are like many
professionals working too hard or trying to juggle a multitude of
projects to be even more competitive in today’s tough times, these
principles are a good way to better enjoy whatever you are doing and
put aside your feelings of stress.
I’ve outlined the 12
principles of happiness below. Remind yourself to think about them
each day, so you act in tandem with them; perhaps keeping them on a
list you can see regularly so they stick in your mind. This way
experiencing happiness becomes a way of life—an overriding outlook
composed of qualities such as optimism, courage, love, and
fulfillment, so you enjoy every day, no matter what happens. In
turn, this focus on being happy will help to drive away fear and
other negative feelings towards work and your economic future.
1. First cultivate
love, which Baker calls the “wellspring of happiness” and the
polar opposite of fear. To do so, remind yourself to experience and
express appreciation for the work, friends, and significant others
you do have in your life. Focus on what you have now or will have,
so you feel gratitude, not on what you don’t have or used to have,
causing you to feel a sense of loss.
2. Be optimistic.
You can put painful events behind you, such as by learning from
whatever difficulties you encounter. Optimism can also help you
overcome any regrets for the past and lead you to feel confident
about whatever the future will bring.
3. Cultivate courage
by actively embracing challenges as a way to overcome feelings of
4. Remind yourself that
you always have the freedom to choose whatever the situation.
For example, if you feel stuck where you are, consider the
different ways you might remake yourself to do something different;
consider how you might bring your current skill set to bear on the
needs created by today’s economic situation.
5. Be proactive,
since this enables you to shape your own destiny, rather than
waiting for other people or events to make you happy. Think about
what you might change, what you might do differently, to reshape
what you are doing now.
6. Gain security
through liking and accepting who you are, so you have an inner sense
of assurance, since everything else in life changes. Security has to
come from within, not from outer attributes, such as money or
7. Take steps to be in
good health, because you need to feel in healthy to be
happy—and at the same time, feeling happy will contribute to your
8. Have a sense of
spirituality, which doesn’t mean you have a particular religious
faith, but rather that you are open to experiences beyond your
everyday life. This sense can then help to give you a feeling of
strength and purpose, so you are better able to weather the reverses
that are happening everyday.
9. Take steps to embrace
and express altruism, since this brings great satisfaction
through giving to others and feeling connected to them; it helps
provide you with a sense of purpose. By contrast, people who are not
altruistic tend to be too self-absorbed to be truly happy.
10. Cultivate a sense of
perspective, too, so you are better able to making
distinctions between big and small problems and prioritizing what’s
more and less important, rather than being rigid. This view also
enables you to put difficulties into a larger context, so you remain
attuned to the big picture. For instance, you might see the current
economic uncertainty as a time of change preparing you to move on to
newer, different, and more satisfying work opportunities in the
11. It also helps to look
on whatever happens with a sense of humor. Even during bad
times, humor will help you lighten up and move past those
12. Finally, having a
sense of purpose gives meaning to your life. You feel a sense
of satisfaction that you are doing what you were meant to do.
Now that you know the 12
happiness principles, think about how you might apply them in your
work and life. You may recognize that you are already using many of
these principles, but now pay attention to how and when you are
using them, so you appreciate yourself for what you are already
doing. In fact that’s the first principle: love or in this case,
showing appreciation for yourself.
GINI GRAHAM SCOTT,
Ph.D., is a nationally known writer, consultant, speaker, and
seminar/workshop leader, specializing in business and work
relationships and professional and personal development. She has
published over 50 books on diverse subjects. Her latest books on
business relationships and professional development include:
Enjoy!; Disagreements, Disputes, and All-Out War;
30 Days to a More Powerful Memory; A Survival Guide to
Managing Employees From Hell; A Survival Guide for Working
with Bad Bosses; and A Survival Guide
for Working with Humans. You can learn more about Gini at
Disputes, and All-Out War
30 Days to a More
A Survival Guide to
Managing Employees from Hell
A Survival Guide for
Working with Bad Bosses
A Survival Guide for
Working with Humans