Someone once asked the Dalai Lama about happiness. He had been depressed and frustrated with his life and was looking for some answers. The Dalai Lama adjusted his visor and gave a soft chuckle and simply said, “Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” Those who are happy aren’t the ones who sit around and complain. They are the ones who are proactive and make their own happiness.
But what does happiness even mean? One Harvard study that took place over 75 years aimed to answer just this question. 268 males from the classes of 1938-1940 were studied over the time period and various aspects of their life were recorded as data. In the end, psychiatrists and researchers were able to make several key determinations.
First, and foremost, the Beatles were right: all you need is love. Those who lived the longest and felt most fulfilled in life had many healthy relationships in their lives. Second, success matters, but this is only the case to a certain degree. What mattered more was the third point. Those who were happiest loved their jobs and never regretted going in. It’s this third point that will be the subject of this blog.
There’s no question that having a job that you enjoy can be the determining factor over whether or not you’re happy. You’re there for at least forty hours a week, and you probably see your coworkers more than you see your family. Take the movie, Office Space. The lead character hates what he does and lets that frustration carry over to his personal life. He doesn’t like his friends and has no energy to follow any hobbies. In short, his job is the reason why he’s unhappy. How can you avoid a similar situation? Here are a few questions to ask yourself?
- Are you doing something that matters? Is your job a job or is it a career? We all know that old cliché that if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. While not exactly the case, there is some truth to that. Some of the more annoying aspects of the job can be better handled if you are doing something you love. If you don’t love what you’re doing, you might want to look elsewhere.
- Are you being paid enough? Of course, money doesn’t matter completely with happiness, but you still need to eat. If you’re being paid poorly or not being paid at all for work, you need to do something about it. Speak to your boss about a possible raise, look into overtime labor laws if you’re not being compensated for additional work and look for a job that actually values what you do.
- Is there room for advancement? The quickest way to an apathetic or negative attitude is stasis. If you don’t see upward mobility in your future, you should either make yourself more marketable for a promotion or find a company that can offer you the career advancements you’re looking for.
Happiness comes from what you do, not what you feel you’re entitled to. By taking action at your workplace, you should be able to find some happiness here that you can carry throughout all aspects of your life.