Your Job can be a Great Source of Happiness in your Life: if you Do Two Simple Things

Your Job can be a Great Source of Happiness in your Life: if you Do Two Simple Things

By Yehudit Garmaise

A man was walking down the street, and he saw a team of masons placing bricks on top of other bricks, wrote Arthur Brooks, in his column, “How to Build a Life” in The Atlantic magazine.

“What are you doing?” The man asked one bricklayer, who responded, “Well, obviously, I’m just laying bricks.”

When the man asked the next mason what he was doing, the bricklayer replied, “I’m building a wall.”

When the man asked a third bricklayer what he was doing, the mason answered, “I’m building a skyscraper.”

“What’s your answer about what you are doing in your job?” Brooks asked. “Are you laying bricks? Or are you building something grand?”

If you want your job to be your own personal meaningful and satisfying mission, said Brooks, who wrote the book, From Strength to Strength, you need to do two things: you must “earn your success” and you must also view your work with a clear understanding of how it serves others.

The way to “earn one’s success” is to “create value with your work,” explained Brooks. “To do that, you need to earn a feeling of accomplishment.”

Brooks said that employees should be asking themselves every day, “What am I doing? Why? What is my path forward?”

In fact, Brooks said that employees who want to build “beautiful structures” in their lives should write down what they think they are creating with their work and how they would like it to evolve in the next 10 to 15 years.

Brooks contrasted the concept of taking responsibility for one's own success to a concept sometimes used in education called, “learned helplessness,” which was coined by social psychologist Martin Seligman, who found through his research, that people stop making special efforts.

Once people feel helpless and stop trying, they stop feeling happy.

Jenn Limm, the founder of Delivering Happiness, a corporate consulting company named after the best-selling book she co-wrote of the same name, added that employees are happier when they feel that they are learning, growing, and developing: not just professionally, but personally.

In addition, she added, happy employees feel that they are recognized for their particular talents and strengths, can express themselves honestly, and can make meaningful choices at work.

“A sense of belonging at a job,” Limm said, is not just the feeling of being invited to a simcha and being allowed to dance, but the feeling of being accepted for your own way of dancing and also sometimes choosing the music.

However, “Your job can’t be about primarily about you,’ Brooks added. “You need to serve other people.”

People who want to be happier at work should determine whomever, in some way, might benefit from their work.

Think about people who might need you, Brooks said: people with less power, education, or resources than you. Dedicate your work to those people, and watch your satisfaction grow.”

People with any jobs can think about how they help others. For instance, Brooks gives the example of an insurance agent, who might feel demoralized when he thinks, “I’m trying to sell people insurance, but they don’t necessarily want it.”

Brooks, however, pointed out that insurance can be something that “takes uncertainty, anxiety, and fear out of customers’ lives, which is beautiful thing to do for others.

“You can find that kind of [gift you give] in any job that you have,” Brooks said, and in doing so you can change your job into “a happiness engine” for yourself and others.

Photo by Flickr 

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