Should we be happy at work?

When I started to work in new position, one of my friends asked me: So now do you feel happy every day, when you go to work? 

Momentarily I couldn’t answer this question. After a pause I said, that in fact, I don’t feel happy all the time. So that means you’ve changed your comfortable life to something that does not bring you happiness, concluded my dear friend. 

I was puzzled for a while. Really, how is it that I’m doing something that doesn’t make me happy all the time? Maybe I would have been happier in the other job I was thinking of. Each time I was asked about how I felt about my job, I could list many things, but not joy. I was doubting my decision, as I thought that happiness or joy at work were an essential part of it. Such thoughts were bothering me for a while. 

But then I realised that I can’t experience the same emotion all the time. Luckily emotions tend to change. So, we can experience a lot of different feelings about our work. Sometimes we feel interested, curious and confident, sometimes frustrated or annoyed, sometimes bored and of course there are moments of joy and happiness.

Currently I see a lot of  trainings that invite us saying – let’s make your employees happy, or managers say they would like to make their employees happy. On the internet you can find numerous sources of advice on how to feel joy at work. We face so many stories, adverts and insta photos about happiness. There is an idea that one might be either happy or unhappy at work: as if there is no spectrum of different emotions in between happiness or unhappiness. 

This Sounds easy, but then, if there is no search for eternal happiness, how do we understand whether we are really doing fine or are happy enough?

For me, the ways to check it are these:
First, naming the feelings or emotions you experience. When you consciously focus on this, you can see spectrum of your emotions. If I constantly feel depressed or bored, whatever I do and with whom ever I meet, with no or very few sparks of happiness, interest, then I would think that maybe I need some happier experience. 

Second, when there are a lot of mixed feelings, doubts about decisions,  it’s good to stop and check with yourself – what is in the longer perspective for me here. Do I have long term goals that interest me and engage? Do I see interesting opportunities, I would like to use? Interest is good reason to continue your work. 

Third, is there any possibility to do something good for others. It might be help to work on issues, give advise to a colleague, or encouragement  or just a talk during coffee break. This creates a sense of meaning and contact to experience with others that might be really rewarding. 

Fourth, is about getting support from others – not that they do all the work for you, perhaps a talk with someone might be supporting. Support helps to go through difficult emotions, stressful periods.

So, it seems I’ve made just another list of advice:) But it’s not about how to be happy at work, more about how to be more aware what I’m experiencing towards my work. And about happiness – what I’m learning myself is not to seek for it as an eternal goal, but to experience and realise the moments of it.

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