Sunday, September 12, 2010

Pursuing Happiness at Work

Happiness in the workplace isn't something that has typically received much attention. The high tech business world that I work in isn't exactly the most nurturing of environments. People aren't as much concerned about your state of happiness as they are about the status of your projects.

But lately, there's been a "happiness movement" in the workplace. Books like The Business of Happiness written by former AOL executive, Ted Leonsis and Delivering Happiness by Zappos founder Tony Hsieh are just two examples of how happiness in the workplace is taking center stage.

There's no getting away from this reality - if you're unhappy at work, you're probably going to be unhappy in life, especially since the majority of your waking hours are spent at work. What if you don't like your job? Perhaps you're not intellectually stimulated, feel unappreciated or you don't like the commute. Maybe, you're having trouble fitting in and getting along with your co-workers.

The point is - what do you do if find yourself consistently unhappy at work? (other than firing up your resume and calling it quits)

There's no shortage of helpful resources with practical tips on how to get back on track in your work life. If you don't believe me, doing a Google search on how to be happy at work = 576,000,000 results. I'm sure that there's goodness somewhere in the 576 million results but as I pondered this recently in my own life, I came across the following in Psalm 90 -

"Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days" Psalm 90:14

I'm not eschewing the practical advice like "reframing your goals" or "take a 10 min break every couple of hours" but this verse from Psalm 90 seems to be pointing to something different. It's looking for happiness outside of myself or my present circumstance. In fact, it points to help outside of this world - which at times seems like the only place you can possibly find happiness. And, don't miss this - the psalmist is crying out for an experience of God's unfailing love because he believes it to be the essential ingredient to his happiness. He believes that knowing and experiencing God's love - the comfort of His nearness, the treasure of His presence, the faithfulness of His promises - is the key to rejoicing and gladness all his days.

The question for us is whether we're similarly convinced of this.


Ted M. Gossard said...

I agree completely, ESI. Thanks. Now the question goes will my heart catch up with what my head largely (I think) gets. I mean we're meant to not just know, but taste and experience the goodness of the Lord and his love toward us. To know that love in Jesus that is greater than we can imagine.

Anonymous said...

ESI...I am not one to put a lot of stock in Happiness. The pursuit of happiness leads to all kinds of other bad things. But, when you say, if you are unhappy at work there are plenty of other things wrong, you are so right. Work is an extension of our normal life. Things are bad at work? Things are probably bad at home and in your heart.

Sam Van Eman said...

There's the "reframing your goals" and then there's the "reframing your heart" of Psalm 90. Both are essential, but I'll agree that the latter must precede the former in importance.

If it doesn't, we could always add Psalm 90 to that goal list!

Every Square Inch said...

Ted - agree with you. We are on a journey of our heat catching up with our head. One day we will feel and experience life in perfect accordance with the truth we believe.

RLB - interesting - so if you don't pursue being happy when you're unhappy? Or when you mean that you don't put a lot of stock, perhaps you're saying being happy isnt as important as [fill in blanks]

Sam - "reframing your heart" - I like that.