How to Be Happy Working

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Scenario: "Dude, we just need to generate lots of Benjamins. Then we'll buy Bimmers! High-five!" To be super happy, people think it takes:

  1. making lots of money
  2. getting all-star promotions
  3. getting lots of rewards
  4. achieving lots of recognition

But if you recount your past, and ask yourself:

"What really made me happy working?"

It was probably this: Progress. That is, you plowed your way through some freakish barrier -- then, subconsciously thought afterward: "Oh shizzle! I'm further down the road now than where I was yesterday! Yay!" The happiness juices in your ridiculously awesome brain started flowing. You became one happy dude/tte.

Progress Breeds Happiness

Harvard's Teresa Amabile and Researcher Steven Kramer studied how people became most happy at their work


We found that the single most important differentiator was a sense of being able to make progress in their work. Achieving a goal, accomplishing a task, or solving a problem often evoked great pleasure and sometimes elation. Even making good progress toward such goals could elicit the same reactions. Even very mundane successes led to positive feelings.

If you're running your business (i.e. have no one to set your tasks), do it this way:

  1. Think of your ultimate destination (e.g. your 20-year goal).
  2. Then, start itching away at it.

If progress makes you happy...

What Makes You Unhappy?

One word: Stagnation. Setbacks that impede your progress destroy your morale. If you feel that you're going nowhere, the anxieties start creeping. According to the researchers:

The worst days - the most frustrating, sad, and fearful days - were characterized by setbacks in the work. Again, the magnitude of the event is not important: Even seemingly small setbacks had a substantial impact on inner work life.

The minute you feel pushed back, immediately do this:

Do something -- anything! -- that reverses that setback, and keeps you moving forward. For instance: if some angry customer sends you a crazy complaint, take one easy step that reverses that stagnation: Acknowledge it. Rule of thumb: As long as you're moving forward, you'll set your booty up for some happiness.

"So how can my butt seek super happiness today?!"

Three steps to follow:

  1. Think of the biggest problem you that you can defeat in a minute/hour/half-day/full-day.
  2. Tackle the problem like the !@^^ that it is.
  3. Notice how freakishly happy your booty becomes driving home.

High-!@^^%^-five to you. Get some progress; be happy.

Seek progress.


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Posted on April 25

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