How to Be Happy at Work – Psychology Today

The question is not whether you’ll change; you will. Research clearly shows that everyone’s personality traits shift over the years, often for the better. But who we end up becoming and how much we like that person are more in our control than we tend to think they are.
Verified by Psychology Today
Posted March 17, 2022 | Reviewed by Vanessa Lancaster
Work takes up a large chunk of our lives. If you’re miserable at work because you’re overburdened, disrespected, or clash with co-workers, that can take a huge toll.
Here are some tips for feeling happier at work.
Research shows three types of people – those who prioritize happiness, those who prioritize meaning, and those who enjoy richness. Let me explain what these terms mean in the context of work.
Put these concepts in rank order of importance to you. This will help you understand what work will make you most happy. You can then use that self-knowledge for selecting a work role, but also for job crafting, which we’ll discuss next.
Job crafting refers to, over time, making your work a better fit for you – whether in terms of your personality, your strengths, or your preferences (e.g., if you prefer to work from home).
You can also job craft your way to doing work that’s more meaningful and valuable. For example, traditionally, salespeople are judged on how much they can up-sell customers. That’s not very fulfilling. But, here’s an example of a salesperson who is creating value.
This guy (who I have no affiliation with) sells Airstreams at a dealership. He also makes incredibly detailed, passionate YouTube video walkthroughs of different models. The videos overcome a problem most of us have – humans become easily flustered when we need to compare multiple complex options, especially with large purchases.
That can make visiting a dealership feel extremely pressured and stressful. He’s removing that stress for people, helping people understand the product, and driving many customers to his dealership. He’s achieving more sales but in a valuable way.
In particular, people who value meaning and richness will feel more satisfied when their work feels more valuable. For people who value richness, some of that satisfaction will come from figuring out how they can do that in a creative way. Remember, they like to solve challenging problems.
I give many more strategies for creative ways to job craft in Stress-Free Productivity. It can take time, and it requires understanding yourself and what makes you feel calm and happy.
Many forces shape our behavior to make us feel pressured to conform to hustle culture. For example, it’s largely seen as the norm in current American corporate life, even though it’s not “normal” if you take a broader view over different cultures and periods. When people exist within that bubble, it can be difficult to see outside it and see that it’s not normal or acceptable. This happens in any microcosm.
Social pressures contribute too. For example, when other people tell you, they’re overworking because they see it as essential to their success. That can make you think you need to do that too. But you don’t. You can reject that assumption.
Pick something memorable that helps you do that. For example, I like to say, “Einstein wasn’t trying to ‘crush it’ at work.” Einstein is an example of someone who valued richness. He was inherently motivated to understand the world better. He was motivated by doing good work.
Seeing your work as a craft can propel you to do better work and help you build resilience. This can apply to almost anything – teaching, accounting, a plant nursery business, writing, an Etsy store. When you see your job as a craft, it makes you interested in learning new skills, getting feedback to improve, and interacting with a wide range of people who can help you improve your craft. Again, this will most appeal to meaning and richness seekers.
If your work culture is toxic, that’s not a self-help problem. Asking how you can change yourself to thrive in a toxic culture isn’t the right question to ask. That’s like if a battered partner asked me how they could get their spouse to stop hitting them. It’s not your responsibility to figure out how to stop someone from abusing you by re-shaping yourself in a way that makes staying in the situation tolerable.
What’s a toxic work environment? It’s, for example, the kind where your boss sends you emails and expects responses in non-working hours or when you’re on vacation.
Self-help articles must acknowledge when problems don’t lie within individuals, as this can lead to harmful self-blame.
Alice Boyes, Ph.D., translates principles from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and social psychology into tips people can use in their everyday lives.
Get the help you need from a therapist near you–a FREE service from Psychology Today.
Psychology Today © 2022 Sussex Publishers, LLC
The question is not whether you’ll change; you will. Research clearly shows that everyone’s personality traits shift over the years, often for the better. But who we end up becoming and how much we like that person are more in our control than we tend to think they are.


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