I spent Mother's Day evening with my husband's daughter and son and their children. His son and granddaughter (David and Eva) are creating super-hero stories with a twist. The super heroes have something that makes them strong or unique, but also something related to that strength that makes them vulnerable. I have learned so much about my own strengths as vulnerabilities over the last five months! Step-daughter Judy has 17 month old boy and girl twins that I love spending time with and have helped to care for until January of this year when I had to take a five month sabbatical. I feel ready to step in again, knowing that they are much more of a handful now that they are walking and even more curious about their world than they were a short few months ago.
Spurred by David and Eva's idea, I said that I wanted to create a super-hero character myself for my website, someone who could suggest ways of being happy at work, a particular challenge that engages me right now. I've been happy in several jobs, frustrated and mostly bored in some, and challenged in quite a few. As my work life got more encompassing (working from home on the internet for the last 12 years, I've found that turning OFF work is a real happiness challenge), remembering to take breaks on my deck or eat healthy meals weren't always "top of mind."
These are some of the things I hear from my friends and coaching clients about the happiness challenges at work:
- a boss who is mostly absent (offices in another city or country) and doesn't seem to notice or care much about you unless you do something she or he perceives as wrong or dangerous
- a boss or colleague who is actively abusive, or for whom you never seem to be able to produce satisfying work
- work that doesn't challenge, or that you've done for such a long time that it has little interest for you
- the challenge of juggling work, family, social life (what social life?), and religious or volunteer commitments
What other challenges do you face in being (mostly) happy at work? Many of the recent academic and popular research articles and books about what keeps us in a particular job relate to two things only--a good manager and challenging work. Some of us have one or both of these and we are grateful and probably happier than those who don't. What if you don't? How can you get happy and stay that way at work?
Some things that I'm thinking about in this happiness pursuit:
- To what degree does eating right (plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, animal or vegetable protein in sufficient amounts, little sugar, caffeine and alcohol), exercising most days, and sleeping well affect our happiness at work?
- Are there ways to create and maintain challenging work for ourselves?
- To what degree can we learn and practice communication skills that improve our own mastery in conversations and thus our relationships with important others at work?
- How can we reduce or eliminate worry and fear as happiness killers at work?
- What does a spiritual practice add to our ability to be happy at work (and in life!)?
If you could conjure up your own super-hero what would she or he do for you to help you learn to be happy at work?