How to find your happy place at work

happy_placeBy Penelope Whitson,

November 11, 2013

Having moved to a new city this year I have been forced to meet new people and create polite chit chat about Things and Whatnots as we attempt to find particulars in common and/or things that warn us away from each other, like halitosis and a fondness for feijoas, the most evil of all the fruit.

One new acquaintance asked me what my purpose was in life. I don’t really like these sorts of questions: they demand flippancy and eye rolling. But I was caught off guard and answered both honestly and more than just a little nauseatingly with: I like being happy.

No, stop your vomiting. I like being happy. You probably do too, unless you’re an Eeyore type and secretly get off on being a bit of a grump, in which case, being grumpy makes you happy. Personally, I tend to find happiness in wordery (not actually a word, I know) but possibly yours is in debauchery, or even in cleaning your teeth to a favourably high standard of dental hygiene.

However, regardless of how you find the happy outside of work, sometimes finding happiness in the workplace can be a tough assignment that has seemingly been invented to try the hardiest of souls.

Perhaps you work for local government. There are so many aspects that can affect how you feel about your job happiness levels. Important things like the workmates, the role itself, whether there’s ever any milk in the fridge and is there wine on Fridays.

There are those who will tell you we’re not supposed to particularly enjoy being at work. Because it’s called ‘work’. They say things like ‘well, the money’s great or ‘it’s not for very long’ and ‘it’ll look good on my CV’. They also wear t-shirts stating ‘Life is pain’ and ‘Eeyore for Pope‘. Clearly these people do not follow the school of thought that if you’re happy at work, you tend to do a better job.

I think the key to finding your happy place in the workplace is to start small. Your place of employment supplies toilet paper free of charge? Excellent beginning. What’s next? Agitate for a better class of tea bags or that addictive stuff known as real coffee.

If glee in the office hasn’t come to you, you have to go and find it yourself. Start the happiness revolution. Less ‘iron fist in velvet glove’, more ‘listening to Whitney on your headphones while subduing the spreadsheets’.

Be sneaky – let the good times of high fives start to infiltrate and see how it affects people and the office environment.

There’s a gentle art to taking your happiness where you can find it. You don’t need to announce it to the world but gracefully embrace it, smirking inwardly at your gosh darn good luck to have found your happy place, even if it’s just for a minute, as you steal all the jelly beans from the office lolly jar.

Happiness is like the domino theory and STDs – it’s infectious and catching. Start spreading it today.

Originally published in Idealog #47, page 71

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