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5 Ways To Find More Happiness at Work

5 Ways To Find More Happiness at Work

A few weeks ago I shared a time evaluation exercise that we do with our yoga teacher trainees. If you missed that post, definitely go back and read it because the exercise can really help you understand how you spend your time and how you feel about how you spend your time. The whole point of the exercise is to get clear on what drains you and what fills you up, which in turn allows you to create a day-to-day life that feels happier and more fulfilled.

I received a super interesting response to the post and the exercise that I knew immediately needed to be its own post.

I like this idea but what about work? The reality is many people don’t love their jobs or they have off days. They still need to put in 8 hours so that’s already 1/3 of the day and more than the $#$% quota mentioned.

If you take one thing away from this post today, I hope it’s that you DON’T HAVE TO HATE YOUR JOB.

I’m going to share five thoughts/takeaways about work that cover everything from “I hate this and I don’t know what to do” to how being happier outside of work makes you more fulfilled at work to “hacking” your work to make it more enjoyable and more.

So You Hate Your Job...Now What? 5 Ways To Find More Happiness at Work

If you hate it, leave it.

It is my firm belief that no one should hate their work so much that they dread going into work every single day. While it’s completely normal to have good and bad days when it comes to work, it should not be the bane of your existence.

If you find that your work is sucking every ounce of your soul away and impacting your emotional and physical well-being, I seriously recommend changing jobs or professions as soon as realistically possible.

Just think about how many hours of your day and years of your life that you spend working. Do you really want to spend that much of your life being completely miserable?

You are never stuck. You always have options. The options might include sacrifices like going back to school, accepting a pay cut, taking a step down the ladder, moving or changing your lifestyle but you have options. Only you can decide what’s right for you.

Being neutral about it is okay.

Many of you might not be able to say you hate your job but it falls squarely in the “it’s okay” camp. I think this is fine and normal but the key is making sure that you have passions and interests that you are nurturing outside of work so that you don’t just feel like a robot going through the motions of life every day. When you’re neutral about your work, find gratitude for what it allows you outside of work. This might be a flexible schedule that lets you to work from home or a schedule where you can be there to pick your kid’s up from school every day. Or maybe it gives you the financial stability to support yourself and your passions outside of work. Gratitude for these things can definitely bump you from neutral to good.

The happier you are outside of work, the happier you’ll be at work.

To expand on my point above about going through the motions of life, it’s hard to feel happy or fulfilled at work when you’re not feeling super fulfilled in your life outside of work. The more you can nurture your passions, relationships, hobbies, family, etc., the happier you’ll be at work. The tough thing is that it takes work to nurture these things! Make sure that you find the time for them as they are so important.

Example: I love my work but sometimes being in business with my fiance means that we can go weeks where I feel like all we do is work and talk about work. We have to make a serious effort to nurture our relationship outside of work. When we do make the time to do that, I find myself much less resentful of the long hours we spend working.

Hack it to make it better.

There might be parts of your job that you dread but you don’t hate the sum of it or the company. If this is the case, can you do something to improve the stuff you feel blah about? It can be as small as listening to your favorite music while you do spreadsheets, trying to spend less time in meetings or scheduling more mini-breaks where you get out of the office for a short walk or coffee break to get some fresh air. It can also be as big as transferring to a different team or department.

Example: My second job out of college was at an amazing ad agency in Birmingham, Alabama. I was so super pumped to have landed a job in such a creative environment but when I started I HATED my position. I was under-utilized, bored and not challenged. I also felt like I was doing nothing to contribute to the company or my client. After meetings with my supervisor didn’t change anything, I finally went to HR. I was terrified to say, “I don’t think I’m needed on this team,” but I also knew I couldn’t keep doing what I was doing. I ended up getting transferred to a different team that I fell in love with. I got two promotions in my three years with the company and learned a freaking TON! I was so sad to leave that job when I moved to Charlotte.

A final thought.

I talk about this quote from Steve Jobs all the time in my yoga classes.

So You Hate Your Job...Now What? 5 Ways To Find More Happiness at Work

Again, you are not stuck and you have all the power in the universe to create the life you want to live. It might not be easy and it might take sacrifices and hard work but it’s worth it…and you’re worth it. You are worthy of freaking LOVING your life and being happy, fulfilled and challenged.

I would love to hear your insights and experiences when it comes to work. How do you feel in your current job? Do you have any past experiences of leaving jobs that weren’t working for you? Have you taken any steps to improve your relationship to your work? What do you do outside of work to nurture yourself?






{ 11 comments… add one }
  • Amanda February 15, 2017, 2:19 pm

    Thank you so much for this post. I recently left a job that I hated. It was also an unsafe job. I am a teacher, and was teaching at a school in inner-city Philadelphia. I had just started at the school in September, and pretty early on I realized that it was unsafe and that it wasn’t going to work. I dreaded going there and it was ruining every area of my life. I gained 20 pounds through stress eating (ahh) and it was really difficult emotionally. I finally got another job in December and was able to resign. I wish I could have afforded to leave sooner. It was hard to leave a teaching job mid-year because I felt like I had made a commitment. Plus, teaching is one of those things that has a definitive start and end, and there is an “appropriate” time to leave (at the end of the year). I took a temporary long-term sub position that came with a major pay cut, but I am so much happier and it was worth it to leave. I’m hopeful that I get a more permanent position soon and that I am able to afford to make ends meet.

    • Jen February 18, 2017, 10:49 am

      You’re welcome Amanda. Thank you for sharing your story and experience. I’m sorry that you found yourself in an unsafe situation but you did the right thing by figuring out an exit strategy for your own personal safety and mental/emotional well-being. Sending you lots of good job vibes as you search for something permanent.

  • Rebecca February 15, 2017, 4:06 pm

    I was just thinking about this lately. I’m definitely “neutral” about my job. It pays the bills, I like most of my coworkers and I have a good work-life balance. We’re not saving lives, but I have hobbies outside of work that are fulfilling. My job previous to this one was awful, I was miserable almost every day. Getting laid off was the best thing that happened to me!

    We constantly hear this “Do what you love!” advice and honestly, I don’t think it’s the best advice. It’s like in Office Space, when Peter says, “We’d have no janitors because nobody wants to clean shit up.” And honestly, I have known people who tried to turn their hobbies into a career and very much did not enjoy seeing how the sausage gets made, so to speak. And on the flip side, not everyone has the luxury of leaving a job they hate because they need to support their family or can’t have a lapse in their medical benefits.

    It’s an interesting thought to be sure! And I agree that even if your profession isn’t fulfilling, you can certainly have a fulfilling life outside of the office.

    • Rebecca February 16, 2017, 11:23 am

      Sorry, I had another thought, too.

      One of the things that has helped me be a little happier with my job is to stop defining myself by what I do for a living. Several years ago, I was talking to someone from Europe, she said it is odd (to her) that one of the first questions someone asks you in America is, “What do you do for work?” It definitely shifted my mindset. I am so much more than my job! I am a wife, daughter, sister, friend, aunt, marathon runner, yogi wannabe, voracious reader, musical theater super-fan… the list could go on!

      • Jen February 18, 2017, 10:47 am

        Hey Rebecca –

        I love your point on not identifying yourself by what you do. Like I’ve said in both of my recent time/career posts, it’s the MOST important thing to have a life you love with hobbies, passions and connections outside of work. Work is not the end all, be all of our existence.

        I 100% do not think that “doing what you love” for work is right for everyone. A lot of time it diminishes the hobby/passion or is just not sustainable to support. But I do think you should do what you love outside of work.

        And I still don’t think that anyone is truly stuck in a job they hate. I’m not advocating to up and quit and just “figure it out,” especially if there is a family to support or other considerations/concerns but even if it’s a long-term exit strategy, it can be freeing to have one and make the current reality more tolerable.


  • Cath February 16, 2017, 3:41 am

    Really interesting post. I did that time evaluation exercise and the comment that you quoted in this post really struck me, as did your reply, given that the results of the exercise were basically that I should work less. I’m really glad you did a follow-on post. In saying that, everything you say is great, but my impression is that most people dislike their jobs, and that those who pursue what they love are very driven with strong self-belief.

    I’ve changed jobs several times (though within the same field) trying to find something that suits me. My partner has said that I probably wouldn’t be happy at any job because of how many I’ve tried. I’m not particularly skilled at anything in a different field that I could do as some sort of career. And I feel that this isn’t an uncommon reality – to float along, or to not have an interest that could be made in to a career, or to not have specialized skills in some area that could make money. While Mondays suck and I don’t like talking about work outside of it, I just don’t know what else I could realistically do while still paying rent. But then I wonder if maybe I’m the problem, perhaps I just need to train myself to suck it up and be more grateful.

    What’s your experience? Do you feel that you’re particularly driven compared to the norm? Do you find that the majority of people dislike their jobs? Do you think that in a lot of cases they just need to be more grateful? Or that some people have a happiness set-point that’s low? Do you truly believe that we can all do what we love – and if so, like The Office quote in Rebecca’s comment above, how would that work?

    • Jen February 18, 2017, 10:42 am

      Hey Cath – thank you for taking the time to leave such a thoughtful response.

      My response to this would mainly focus on putting the job stuff aside and making sure that your life outside of work is fulfilling and that you do discover passions and hobbies. I can’t stress enough how much I think that you don’t have to make your passions/skills support you on a job level but I think that it’s so, so, so critical to have them. Like I mentioned before, one of the biggest focuses of our 200-hour teacher training is discovering what lights you up. What keeps your internal fire burning and you feeling like you’re living a real, authentic life?

      I do think that many people dislike their jobs. Again, I think it’s fine to be neutral but if you literally HATE it, I just can’t get behind living like that. I don’t think everyone should “do what they love!” for work but I do think that they should be doing things they love outside of work.

      Regarding happiness points set too low, I don’t think some people realize how good they can feel. It’s like we’re conditioned to think that we should be miserable and that life is hard. Seriously. It’s crazy. Think about people who’ve never exercised or eaten healthy before and then they make that lifestyle change and they’re like, “I can’t’ believe I felt so long feeling like crap. I didn’t even know I felt so bad until I felt good.” It’s kind of the same thing.

      Suggested reading and listening…
      The Fire Starter Sessions
      Big Magic
      The Spirit of the Vedas (https://www.amazon.com/The-Spirit-of-the-Vedas/dp/B001AWVSCG)

  • Jen February 16, 2017, 7:42 am

    I LOVE these tips. I’m in more of a neutral place with my current job. I don’t hate it, but I certainly am looking forward to the day when I can run by own biz full time. I’ve been trying to find ways to enjoy the job and have even done some of the things you suggested. It’s great to have another reminder!! And those quotes! I love them!

    • Jen February 18, 2017, 10:34 am

      Hey Jen – I’m glad that you find these helpful. Enjoy the neutral spot you’re in now. Running your own business is an amazing thing but also requires a lot of long hours, hard work and sacrifice. There are benefits to both sides of the job scenarios!

  • Fiona February 18, 2017, 2:13 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this! The timing couldn’t be any more perfect. I am a chemical engineer and frankly hate my job. After a lot of soul searching and leaps of faith I just found out I have been accepted to a Master’s program to become a high school Chemistry teacher! I am so excited for the next step and am so happy I trusted my gut on this one. We have so much more control over our happiness than we think!

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