In the 1950s experts were concerned that we wouldn’t know what to do with all our spare time in the future. Experts like, Harvard University’s David Reisman feared that with technology speeding up as it was and automation taking over at every level, people would not be able to cope with this overabundance of free time that we were going to have on our hands. The workday would be drastically changed, with people having little to do.
Well, it hasn’t quite worked out that way. In fact today, most North Americans are working more and harder than ever. Not only that, but job satisfaction levels are also down.
According to a report by The Conference Board in 2005, there is a decline in job satisfaction among workers of all ages and across all income brackets in the US workforce. About half of all Americans surveyed at the time said they were satisfied with their jobs, but this was down from nearly 60% ten years before. To add to this, among the 50% who said they were content, only 14% said they are “very satisfied.”
So what is this telling us? It is telling us that most of us are not happy doing what takes for most of us the majority of each day, week, and year! When you reflect on this, doesn’t it seem bizarre that we would dedicate the majority of our lives to being in a place or doing something that does not make us completely happy?
Let’s, therefore, talk a little about how to achieve more happiness in the workplace, and infuse joy into this area that makes up such a big part of our lives.
How Did We Get Here?
As I stated above in the few statistics that I shared with you, in North America we seem to be spending more time in places and doing more things there that we perhaps least enjoy. I know to some people this is “just the way it is” and they cannot see it any other way. In fact, I still know a lot of people who will say the famous words “I have no choice.”
Well – you may or may not agree with me – but we ALWAYS have a choice. Just by saying, “we have no choice” we have chosen to say those words. We could have chosen to say so many other things, but we chose those specific words.
So why are most people not happy doing what they do as part of their “job” and how did we come to this?
In my opinion, when I look back at trends over the past decades, one thing really stands out and this is the push for the economy. After the great depression and the major world wars, North America, especially the US started to focus and build everything around the economy.
New items, more diverse items, more color, more choices, more gadgets, more of everything started to become available. People started to get a new taste for life where we were seeing a boom in almost every sector. Well, the more that was produced, the more people wanted, needed, or felt that they should have.
The era of the “Joneses” began and we were all striving to have all the things that our new world was presenting us with. There was always more one could acquire. Of course, in order to have these things, we needed to go to work to make money. To add to this, we also had an older population of people who believed that in order to get anything in life, one had to work hard.
And so, one by one, I think more and more people began to become more swayed into enjoying the material items money could buy, rather than enjoy how they were going to get that money. It seems that one by one, our focus changed from, “enjoy the now” to “suffer now, to enjoy the future“. But somehow, those future moments just didn’t add up to what was lost in the present.
We may look to the governments and try to lay blame, but there is no point. We can look at the companies and try to lay the blame, but that also is useless. Looking for something or someone to blame here is not the answer because, in the end, we are the ones who are going to these jobs, agreeing to unfavorable working conditions, and then going to the stores to spend the money we just earned.
There is no one to blame. In fact, there needn’t even be anything wrong here. If you genuinely love your job and enjoy working at it 40 or even 60 hours a week, then that is wonderful. However, one may have a part-time job where they only work 20 hours a week or less and are hating it – making themselves miserable.
The point I am trying to make is for each one of us to realize that there is a vicious cycle out there, but we do not need to be a part of it. We have a choice.
We have a choice in the job we choose, the conditions, the coworkers, the hours and even the pay. Again, I know for many first time readers of this, it may seem like I am saying something heretical here. However, when we look within, become conscious of our own being, and began to consciously attract and manifest what and how we really want life to be, we began to see astonishing results.
This is why today, I invite each and every one of you to reflect on your own job situation. Consider the following questions:
Are you happy doing what you are doing for a “living”?
Are you happy in your current workplace? How happy?
If you are not happy with what you are doing, what are you doing to change those circumstances?
Can you look at your workplace in a brand new way? At your coworkers? At your boss?
Can you start to see the situations and scenarios in your workplace, as ones of your own making, not ones that were made by another?
Can you accept that there are no victims and villains, but only what we choose to perceive ourselves as?
If you do not like how someone in the workplace is treating you, why do you allow it?
What work would you do for free because you love it THAT much?
Why aren’t you doing that for a living?
Allow these questions to rest in your mind today. Perhaps you will want to talk them out with yourself or someone else. Perhaps you will even want to journal some ideas. Whatever you do, do not dismiss your happiness. Whether you are 25 or 55, it is never too late, to have the work happiness that you seek and deserve.
Infuse Happiness Into Your Work Day
So you may still be feeling and thinking that “you have no choice” working where you are and doing what it is that you do. However, even if that is the case, we always still have a choice in terms of how we act or react to something.
Hence to infuse more happiness into your workday, try these simple ideas:
Start each day with a fresh mindset
Do not bring past baggage to each new day. Sure yesterday may have “sucked”, but today is a new day, where you get to create a beautiful new day. Be open therefore to a new outlook.
Learn to see the glass half full.
Sure you may be in a company that isn’t going anywhere, but there is still opportunity in every situation. You get to declare yourself in every moment to the Universe and based on how you declare yourself, you attract more of that. This is why you have to realize that you have the choice to make every moment count and be as meaningful as you choose it to be.
Learn to become more optimistic.
Yes you may work with a grumpy and negative coworker or boss, but it does not mean that you need to be grumpy and negative as well. Instead of those people’s energies rubbing off on you, try for a change letting your positive attitude rub off on them.
If you are finding that you do not enjoy your job due to poor relationships with other coworkers, try a new approach as to how you present yourself. In the end, you really have nothing to prove. We are all one, and thus each one of us deserves to be treated with respect, kindness, and care. Be real, be authentic, and reach out to others the way you would like them to reach out to you. And most importantly don’t keep score. Do what you do because it feels right to you, not because you owe something to someone.
Understand that things don’t just happen to us.
Know that you are an active entity in your own life, not a passive bystander. Therefore, the sooner we drop the victim mentality and begin being accountable for all that is in our lives, the sooner we start creating all that we want in our lives consciously and drop all that we do not want.
You get out, what you put in
If you are really unhappy at your workplace, ask yourself what you are actually contributing to making it a better place? If you give negativity, you get negativity. If you give value, you get back the value. So don’t expect your work to magically give you everything you want when you do not put in a fair effort into it yourself.
If you have honestly given it all you could have, and tried your best to increase your level of happiness in your workplace, but nothing seems to have changed or be changing, learn to recognize the message. Perhaps this just isn’t the best place for you – your growth and your happiness. Have the courage to leave a place or a position that is not making you happy, and find one that is. It may take many tries, it may take just one – but in the end, you are dealing here with your life, and you – and that is worth everything!