How to be Happy at Work


Choose to be

Studies on what makes people happy reveal that it doesn’t have much to do with material goods or even high achievement; it seems to whittle down to your outlook on life and the quality of your relationships with the people around you. In part, happiness is a matter of attitude and intention.

Apparently about 50% of our happiness levels are pre-set by genetics or environment (our happiness pre-set). Luckily, that leaves the other half within our power to raise or lower, and this is largely influenced by how you think and what you do.

Choose it now

Rather than imagine that happiness it attached to some future outcome, like having a better job or a different job, choosing a positive attitude might actually make the job you have now better. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t aspire toward a job or work environment that might make you happier. It seems, though, that our capacity to be happy is based strongly on our outlook and the quality of our relationships, so it makes sense to focus on those aspects of our lives in order to give your life greater meaning in the meantime.

Experiences trump stuff

Many of us expect more money to make us happy, but once we’ve achieved a certain level of income, enough to meet our basic needs, more money doesn’t result in more real happiness, except for when we give it away.  Again, happiness is more closely related to our relationships, so being happy at work can be greatly influenced by being happy at home or in our relationships with family and friends. Research also shows that stuff doesn’t contribute to happiness but that experiences might. The Missoula culture naturally supports an investment in shared activities rather than in keeping up with the Joneses.

Do something you love everyday

There are so many opportunities in our valley to experience the outdoors, attend cultural events, contribute to the community, and participate in an activity you love every single day.  Check our “Plan it” calendar to see what’s happening in Missoula today. But it is also important to do something you love every day at work. Find some way even if you dislike your job to utilize your favorite skills, involve your pet interests, interact with people you admire or care about, for even a few minutes at work every single day.

Happiness research indicates that, as long as you make enough money to meet your basic needs, much of your satisfaction is determined by our attitude and our relationships. You can increase your happiness at work and at home by choosing optimism, investing in your people and shared experiences with them, and finding a way to insert activities you love into every single day.

Back to Jennifer’s “Work It” homepage.


Jennifer Shryock is a resume writer and interview coach withRainmaker Resumes.  Her blog features Missoula job hunting tips, covering everything from the employer perspective to networking ideas to interview-winning resumes to keeping your sense of humor, whether you’re working or working to find work. For answers, send your work related questions to Make her blog a regular part of your job search.