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  • The Importance of Happiness at Work

    shutterstock_314251913A sweeping misconception among many American workers regarding happiness and success is how the two coincide with one another. It is commonly thought that happiness is a result of success. For instance, once an individual gets the raise they want or the promotion they desire, then they will become happy.

    The only problem is that the formula doesn’t work. More than a decade of psychological studies on American workers has shown the equation to be backward. It is now believed that happiness comes before success, thus is a precursor, not merely a result of accomplishment.

    As a matter of fact, happiness and optimism fuel performance and achievement. Our recruiters have seen that waiting to be happy limits our potential for success and further fuels discouragement. On the other hand, learning to be positive about work today makes us more motivated, resilient, focused and creative.

    Happiness and Brain Power

    Happiness not only makes us work harder, it allows us to turn out work of the highest quality at the highest efficiency.

    Lately, it has become evident to scientists that positive thinking has profound sharpening effects on the human brain. Specifically, there are 3 main ways in which enjoyment enhances human brain power in ways that set you up for career success.

    1. Positive thoughts broaden the amount of career possibilities your brain can process.

    2. Positive emotions help you better organize new information and keep that information longer.

    3. Happiness assists the human brain in becoming more skilled at complex problem solving.

    Making Ourselves Happier at Work

    If we maximize our brain’s potential when in upbeat moods, it is important to understand how to make ourselves happy. Interestingly, many of the recommended techniques to increase happiness at work profoundly impact our overall sense of well-being. While there are a plethora of techniques to boost performance through increasing our outlook, let’s focus on 5.

    1. Visualize Success. When you are able to clearly envision success, it naturally cultivates a feeling of well-being which promotes focus and forward movement. Conversely, when you feel you don’t have it in you to achieve your goals, your work ethic and focus suffers.

    2. Maintain Interpersonal Relationships. Stress and workplace unhappiness is diminished by increasing your social support network both at work and outside of your job. When stress and unhappiness rise in the American worker, many try to alleviate the negative feelings by focusing more time on work and thus leave less time for relationships with co-workers, friends and family. Thinking that heightened hours will remedy performance gaps and, thus improve happiness is a misconception.

    When we pull away from interpersonal interactions to pour more time into work, our happiness diminishes and performance suffers further. Without fulfilling relationships both inside and outside the office, focus, creativity, work ethic and resilience suffer.

    3. Positively Anticipate an Event. Find something to look forward to. Studies have found that employees who anticipate future rewards (regardless of how big or small), are better able utilize their brain power and benefit from the advantages that happiness brings.

    4. Learn to Divert Negative Thoughts. The most effective way to promote healthy thinking is to learn how to expel negative thoughts on the spot. If you kill a thought dead, for the time being you can do anything else with that brain power that you want.

    5. Incorporate Daily Exercise. It is widely known that psychical activity boosts mood and performance by reducing stress and anxiety. However, the benefits of cardiovascular exercise go further. Aerobic activity has been proven to directly stimulate the dorsolateral prefrontal cortices – the part of the brain that heavily regulates the way you think and the actions you take.

    In the End

    Happiness is not an end goal, but rather the actual joy we feel while striving towards our potential. If you enjoy what you do, you do it better. Thoughts affect our feelings, which then affects the manner in which we work.


    Ken Sundheim is the CEO of KAS Placement Sales and Marketing Recruiters, a sales and marketing recruiting firm specializing in staffing business development and marketing professionals around the U.S. Ken has been published in Forbes, Chicago Tribune, AOL, Business Insider, Ere.net, Recruiter.com, Huffington Post and many others. He has also appeared on MTV, Fox Business News and spoken at some of the country's leading business schools on HR, job search and recruitment.

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    Posted in Career Development, Success Strategies, Workplace Success
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