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Cultivating Happiness in the Workplace: A Therapist’s Perspective

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Blogs, books, and podcasts tell us that in order to live well, we must “find our happiness,” “follow our bliss,” and “be positive.”

And yet, despite these admonitions, many of us are still not quite sure what happiness really is — or how to experience it more often.

I have been a therapist specializing in PTSD and trauma resolution for five years and have worked with hundreds of clients struggling with anxiety, depression and trauma.

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Here’s what I’ve learned about happiness and how to cultivate it at home and at work.

What is a useful way to define happiness?

We often think that happiness equals just feeling good. Happiness is viewed as the opposite of sadness, a state we experience when things go our way.

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But according to positive psychology researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky, experiencing positive emotions is only part of what makes you happy.

“[Happiness] has two components. The first component is that it is about experiencing positive emotions. Joy, contentment, affection, interest, love. Happier people have more positive emotions and fewer negative emotions.”

But that’s not enough, says Lyubomirksy. Someone might feel a lot of positive feelings but still not feel happy. “The second component is a sense of contentment with your life, happy with your life, content with the way you are achieving your life goals.”

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How can we feel happy more often?

Lyubomirsky defines happiness as “the experience of joy, contentment, or positive well-being coupled with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful, and rewarding.”

In order to experience more happiness, both are required positive emotions and a sense of purpose.

Feel positive emotions

Let’s start with positive emotions. What helps you feel happy or content? It’s different for each of us. You know what makes you feel good, whether it’s spending time with your partner, kids, pets, being in nature, or learning something new.

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For a long time it was thought that only experiences, not material goods, generate lasting positive emotions. However, research over the past decade has been contradictory. For some, material goods can bring good luck more frequently over time.

See also  26 Common Habits of Unhappy People

As a therapist, I still recommend focusing on the inside, not the outside, when finding ways to create positive emotions. Ultimately, reliance on material goods for our happiness, like buying a bigger house or a faster car, makes us vulnerable to external factors beyond our control. Today’s economy is a perfect example of this.

Experience greater meaning

Now let’s look at the second component of happiness: purpose, or feeling that one’s life is good, meaningful, and rewarding.

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what is your passion What motivates or drives you? What makes you feel good inside? Being aware of these things can not only make us happy, but also stable and focused.

If you’re struggling to find your purpose, know that a growth mindset, gratitude, and giving back to your community can help bring meaning to your life.

Increasing employee satisfaction leads to greater retention

Finding joy at work is just as important, and not just because we want to feel good during the day. People who hate their jobs experience more stress and often have higher rates of illness.

Also, dissatisfied workers are 4.6 times more likely to start looking for a job and/or leave their current employer within six months. In contrast, research shows that happy employees are more productive than unhappy ones.

A study by Oxford University found that happier employees work faster and are 13% more productive. Another study found that happy salespeople were 37% more productive.

What can organizations do to increase job satisfaction?

First, make sure every member of the organization understands the mission and purpose. This creates a sense of community and pride (and happiness). Help employees realize that their work has meaning and that they are contributing to a greater purpose for the greater good.

Second, maintain consistent and fair standards and ethics across the team. This sends a positive message to team members and can help increase morale, camaraderie, and happiness. Ensuring that leaders in the organization act with integrity, fairness and openness can also have an impact.

Finally, show that employees are valued, respected, and valued. Research shows inclusivity is also important, with 81% of employees working in an inclusive culture saying they feel comfortable in their roles.

Happiness can affect immunity, creativity, and productivity

Increasing your job satisfaction and that of your employees brings noticeable advantages – and not just a good feeling. Happy people may have stronger immune systems, be more creative, and work harder.

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So it’s not surprising that investing in employee mental health and happiness can help companies weather both economic uncertainty and the Great Resignation and Hidden Resignation.

A meta-analysis of 339 independent studies found “a strong, positive correlation between employee well-being, productivity and organizational performance”.

Our research has shown that investing in a mental health solution results in 25% fewer absenteeism days, a 24% increase in productivity, and a 50% reduction in the likelihood of employees leaving the workplace.

6 (more) ways to feel happier at work

Consider sharing this list with your co-workers via email, social media, or during meetings—and set a good example by putting it into practice in your own life as well.

1. Spend time outdoors. Studies show that being in nature increases our happiness and determination.

2. Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness means being aware of and sitting in the present moment. Close your eyes and think of three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can feel right now. Mindfulness can be that simple.

3. Be “prosocial.” Research shows that “prosocial” behaviors like volunteering, giving donations, and even writing thank-you notes help us create meaning.

to do someone good. For example, leave a piece of candy on a colleague’s desk or send them a friendly and thoughtful message.

4. Establish a growth and curiosity mindset. Employees with dual growth mindsets—those who see both themselves and their work as malleable—experience greater satisfaction. Embrace imperfections, accept challenges, and commit to continuous learning.

5. Engage in gratitude. According to a study, simply writing about the things you’re grateful for, feeling happier about your life, visiting the doctor less, and exercising more can help you.

6. Take care of your sanity. Make use of your company’s EAP, especially if counseling or therapy is part of these services. Therapy can help you challenge and reformulate negative thoughts.

Next, read this blog To find out how you can help your employees build their resilience and ultimately create a stronger and healthier workplace.

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