Few things create bigger struggles than preparing yourself to go to a job you hate. Who has ever enjoyed walking into an environment that makes your joy shrivel up? No one. So, yes, you have to work — because money is necessary. But, no, you do not have to sacrifice your happiness just because you need a job.
If your job is the lemon that just squirted you in the eye, you can find a way to turn it into lemonade. Better yet, it’s not as tough as you think it will be. All you need is the desire to do it and a little discipline to incorporate these five things into your work.
You deserve joy in your job — and when you bring joy to work, you make it better for others, too.
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1.) Don’t hand over your joy to anyone or any place. We are the captain of our ship of emotions, which means it’s our responsibility to navigate clear of the rocky waters.
For work, this means not submersing ourselves in the negative water-cooler talk or negative behaviors of those around us. We can be productive and not enablers of that type of activity. Ask yourself: Do I hate this job because of ideas others have given me — or because of what I’ve personally experienced? It’s shocking to see how we fuse to others’ negative experiences.
2.) Determine the root of the problem. The solution to happiness isn’t always finding a new job. What if the problem is inside you? Maybe a source of discontentment or a personal, unresolved issue constantly ties you up.
If it’s you, the problems are going to stay with you. Start focusing on what challenges you are having, discover any reoccurring patterns and themes, and then find a way to take action. You deserve joy in your job — and when you bring joy to work, you are making it better for you and for others, too.
3.) Look for any and all opportunities to grow your skills. Many jobs offer you opportunities to receive more training. These are valuable opportunities to take advantage of if you can.
By viewing these things as chances to grow your skills and learn new things you are giving your time more value, which feels good. You also feel productive, and that is great.
4.) Don’t buy your own hype — there’s something to make you grateful. If you find yourself rolling your eyes and thinking, “Ugh!” the second your hand touches the front door of your workplace, pause. If anything, be grateful that you have a job and the potential to do your best.
Then imagine walking into that next job interview — the one for your dream job. How could you show conviction that you would be great in a new role if you show no signs of joy for where you are now? Growth and opportunity don’t have to stem from bad situations. Appreciate the journey you take.
5.) Commit to a fresh perspective. Consider the possibility that you have a poor attitude — and that that’s really your biggest job struggle. Imagine twisting that negative energy into something more positive. Our mindset is what will make or break us in the end. If you can only see hate and feel no joy, you need to develop a conqueror’s attitude. Don’t let it beat you! Start small. If there’s a co-worker who bugs you, commit to finding one redeeming quality about that person.
When there’s a task you particularly dislike doing, do it first and get it over with, then move onto the things you enjoy more. The options are endless; and any deliberate choice you make that moves you toward happiness is one that will work for your betterment.
Life will be filled with situations that are not ideal. It cannot be avoided. But if you are going to spend six to 16 hours a day at work, why wouldn’t you want to find some joy in what you’re doing? You have a purpose for being there — give it a chance, and it can add to your purpose in life.
Lisa Cypers Kamen, MA, is an internationally recognized positive psychology coach and author of “Are We Happy Yet? Eight Keys to Unlocking a Joyful Life.” Lisa hosts the popular radio show “Harvesting Happiness,” which has helped millions of people around the world generate more joy and fulfillment in their life. For more information, visit www.arewehappyyet.com.