Not Happy at Work? Turn on the Light

Climb out of the doldrums by diagnosing the root of workplace happiness.

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It doesn't matter how bright those fluorescent lights overhead are – if you're unhappy with your job you might as well be working in a cave. It's dark, depressing and uncomfortable (not to mention the rabid bats). Soon, the resulting despair starts to creep into other parts of your life and your overall happiness takes a hit.

But you don't have to give yourself up to the hopelessness. You can take control of the situation, take action and turn on that light at the end of the tunnel.

1. Become an optimist. Make a couple of small attitude changes to get pointed in the right direction.

Realize that conditions could always be worse, and that they are worse for many other people. This realization serves to shift your perspective toward optimism – the glass is half full. It does not mean that you shouldn't seek better circumstances because you're already better off than some. You should. You're not selfish, foolish or unreasonable for wanting something better. It's that whole pursuit of happiness thing. But, at least know that your current circumstances are not as bad as they could be.

Find at least one good thing about your current job: It enables you to support your family or pursue some extracurricular activity. You enjoy your co-workers. Bad as it is, it's not as bad as your last job. Whatever it might be, find something to be grateful about.

Optimism and gratitude will bolster you against the despair of your current circumstances and fuel your search for something better.

2. Find the source. Simply saying you can't stand your job isn't enough. Think about why you can't stand your job. What about it makes you unhappy? And, sorry, "everything" isn't a helpful answer.

Get specific: Is it your boss, co-workers, company culture, your occupation, something else? Then get more specific, what about those people or things make you unhappy?

Discover the sources of your discontent so you know what to avoid – and, better yet, what to seek – as you look for a happier job.

3. Take action. Now, bolstered by your newfound optimism and guided by your understanding of what makes you happy and unhappy, go find a new job. Sure, it seems like there is a whole galaxy between looking for a new job and actually getting one. However, the very act of doing something to better your situation is, in and of itself, enough to start to relive your hopelessness and reveal that light at the end of the tunnel.

In the Meantime

As you venture toward a new, happier job, keep your spirits up and stay positive at your current job:

1. Shun negativity. Avoid getting into gripe sessions with co-workers or dwelling on negativity. You're on your way to something better – don't get pulled back into the cave.

2. Remember why. Why do you go to work every day? To maintain a lifestyle you enjoy? To create opportunities for your kids? So you can follow Phish on the road for a week out of every year? Focus on those positives about your job, few and far between as they may be.

3. Re-engage. Slacking off and just going through the motions may actually intensify your discontent. Do your best to engage in your job – the days will go by faster and, chances are, you'll feel more proud about what you're doing. The resulting confidence will help you in your search for a new job.

4. Make others happy. Say hello. Share a compliment. Recognize the efforts of co-workers. You have the power to make others just a little happier. And it's amazing how happy it can make you when you do.

Luke Roney is editor for CareerBliss, an online career community dedicated to helping people find happiness in the workplace. Check out CareerBliss for millions of job listings, company reviews and salary information.

TAGS:
careers
corporate culture
Generation Y

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