Work and Happiness

imagesWhen Jack was five one day he asked me ‘what’s the meaning of life and the purpose of meaning’ I was flabbergasted and hadn’t a clue how I was going to answer this and so I said ‘what do you think it is’ Jack responded ‘happiness’ He’s a genius I thought (which of course he is) and I asked what made him think that. ‘ I saw it on the Simpsons’ he replied. Proving the old adage that wisdom can sometimes be found in the unlikeliest of places.

Today Economists and national leaders are increasingly talking about measuring a country’s status with metrics other than GDP to include the squishy-seeming concept of ‘happiness’ with David Cameron unveiling plans to measure the country’s national well-being.

But what does happiness mean in the world of work, well of course there’s not one definition but there is a general consensus that the little things count and can make a difference. Happiness is linked to motivation and in work people are often happy when they’re trying to achieve goals that are difficult but not out of reach.  Achieving happiness requires the same approach as training for a marathon, it’s’ not instant it’s a gradual build up of training which needs to be done consistently. Marathon runners will set targets to allow them to reach their ultimate goal of running the marathon, happiness is like that.

Take for example Joan whose workload was causing her to feel completely unhappy in her work, she couldn’t seem to stay on top of things and as a result she was working long hours, having little quality time with her husband and was constantly exhausted. Something had to shift but it didn’t happen overnight.

She began by taking a lunch break, not a full hour but enough time to get out of the office, walk around the block to a nearby park and enjoy her lunch al fresco.  This small shift energised her for the afternoon and once a week her husband joined her, which reminded them of when they were dating and would often meet like this. These little changes had a big impact on Joan’s happiness and the solace she enjoyed helped her workload seem less daunting and more manageable.

I have a lot more to say on the subject of happiness and in the words of Arnie ‘I’ll be back’.

Evolving Careers Players can help you develop and maintain a career which you find motivating. We deliver 121 career coaching, group learning and development, and outplacement services. We devise community forum theatre, corporate drama workshops and role-play scenarios. Get in touch to discuss your needs:

Published by Carmel O' Reilly

I’m Carmel O’ Reilly, Founder of I’m the author Your WorkLife Your Way, blogger and podcaster on the subject of WorkLife. My work focuses on helping people to live their best WorkLives, by managing their learning, development and growth, through effective self-feedback, insightful self-questions and the ability to shape and tell their unique story. My Mission is: “To spread the power of WorkLives lived with Passion, Purpose and Pride by creating continuous WorkLife learning programmes that are accessible to everyone.”

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