Choose to be Happy at Work

By Jack J. Kelly

As an Executive Recruiter I sometimes feel the need to serve as a therapist to both job seekers and hiring managers, (I guess my parents were wrong about putting my undergraduate degree in psychology to use). In addition to seeking out a new position, candidates share intimate details of their work and life including what they like, things that make them unhappy, and the stuff that nearly pushes them over the edge.

In light of these conversations that I have held with literally thousands of people over the last two decades, I have carefully noted positive actions that people have taken which made them happier.

While some people have wallowed in their misery, others took positive, assertive, active steps to improve their happiness while also trying to enhance their career internally, or by seeking a new position outside of their current company. I noticed a similar pattern that successful people took to change their mindset as well as their jobs.

Here are the amazing lessons I learned from these terrific people over the years:

• Only you are in control of your own happiness.

• Your boss, manager, peers, co-workers, and friends must not sway your ultimate goals and current sense of self-worth.

• Don’t benchmark yourself against others who are in positions that may make yours feel insignificant and small.

• Instead, use their success as a source of motivation.

• Always continue to learn.

• Remember to smile. This simple act will make you feel better. Try it right know.


• When you smile and exude a positive attitude, people will notice and treat you better.

• Associate with positive people.

• Lose the negative people in your life.

• Ask for meaningful feedback that will help you do better in your job.

• Ask for a raise, promotion or new assignment to challenge yourself.

• Seek out a mentor.

• Keep away from those who gossip, backstab and suck your time and soul.

• Go back to school if you need career growth.

• Make sure you have a comfortable chair that doesn’t hurt your lower back.

• When you start feeling stressed, take a little walk around the office, or go outside for some fresh air.

• If you can’t change your job right away, change your attitude.

• Keep your dream alive no matter how hard or bad things get at the office.

• Seek out and network with likeminded people.

• Don’t stress out over things outside of your control.

• Do something you love once a day.

• Make only commitments you can reasonably keep.

• Look for a new job if you are at a dead end.

• Have pride in what you do, even if the current job isn’t your ultimate job.

• Don’t stand by if your company is engaged in inappropriate activities.

• Don’t remain festering and angry with a go-nowhere job and company.

• Don’t let yourself become a victim.

• Speak with your manger before things go from bad to worse.

• Find a group of coworkers to go out with together after work, share ideas, and help one another.

• Eat right, sleep well, exercise, and stop mindless partying.

• Volunteer to help others – it will also help you.

• Be grateful for the success you already have.

• Be thankful to the people who care for you and are trying to help you.

• Set meaningful yet achievable goals.

• Then aggressively and excitedly embark upon them.

• Cut down your daily commute if possible.

• Reduce the burden of a large mortgage and taxes that stress you out and keep you stuck in a job you hate just to pay the bills.

• Engage in outside work activities to keep things in perspective.

• Read books to get new and fresh ideas.

• Celebrate and embrace your victories, no matter how small.

• Remember to spend quality time with your family.

I know that this is a big list. Start slow and work at it. I have seen it work firsthand, with successful people throughout the years.

It is too easy to complain. Follow your dream and choose happiness instead of the status quo.

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