Happiness at Work – 10 Tips from Professor Rao

A friend shared a great book with me by Professor Rao – Happiness at Work.  I completely agree with the 10 tips Prof. Rao proposes in his book on how to achieve happiness at work.  Let’s face it – there is no perfect job out there.  So the key to happiness at work is NOT external circumstance or outcomes in a job.  Instead it’s about realizing that in any job, we need to know that we have the power to create our own experience no matter what happens at work.

Here is a summary of his 10 tips provided by Forbes .  I added my comments as a reminder for myself.  Hope you will find these tips inspirational as well.

  1. Avoid “good” and “bad” labels -When something bad happens, don’t beat yourself up. Instead, when you make an error, be aware of it without passing judgment. “Do what you have to do, but don’t surrender your calmness and sense of peace.”
    Lei:  Also sometimes what seem to be a bad experience (like a layoff) could be a blessing in disguise in the long run.  My friend was laid off at the end of last year but found a better job in 6 weeks with 20% more pay and now his company just got bought.
  2. Practice “extreme resilience” – This is the ability to recover fast from adversity. “You spend much time in needless, fruitless self-recrimination and blaming others…You go on pointless guilt trips and make excuses that you know are fatuous. If you’re resilient, you recover and go on to do great things.” 
  3. Let go of grudges –  This is the key to being happy at work. “Consciously drop the past,” he writes. “It’s hard, but with practice you will get the hang of it.”
    Lei: I completely agree with #2 and 3 – refer to my post on Forgive and Forget – Key to Career Success to read more examples.
  4. Don’t waste time being jealous – “When you’re jealous you’re saying that the universe is limited and there’s not enough success in it for me.. Instead, be happy, because whatever happened to him will happen to you in your current job or at another company.”
    Lei:   Don’t waste time dwelling on what you don’t have because that just takes energy away from you and cause you to feel like a victim.  When you spend 100% of your energy on striving for the future, you will achieve.
  5. Find passion in you, not in your job –  Rao warns against searching for that perfect position, or even believing that it exists. Instead, he advocates changing how you think about your current situation. For example, instead of thinking of yourself as a human resources manager at a bank, identify yourself as someone who helps other bank employees provide for their families, take advantage of their benefits and save for the future.
    Lei:  This is probably my favorite tip from Prof Rao.  If we depends our happiness on what happens at work, then we will always find some level of disappointment as no job is perfect.   Only when we can find self worth, confidence, and happiness in ourselves and our life regardless of work, can happiness be in reach.
  6. Picture yourself 10 years ago and 10 years from now –“Most problems that kept you awake ten years ago have disappeared …Much of what troubles you today will also vanish. Realizing this truth will help you gain perspective.”
    Lei: it’s so funny how true this really is.  I can’t even remember what I was worried about 10 year ago.  Whatever is fretting us now, take a step back and take a long term view.  Everything will work out in the long run.
  7. Banish the “if/then” model of happiness – Many of us rely on a flawed “if/then” model for happiness. If we become CEO, then we’ll be happy. If we make a six-figure salary, then we’ll be happy. “There is nothing that you have to get, do or be in order to be happy.”
    Lei:  This is so true and probably the hardest tip to follow.  If you look at any achievement you made in the past, you will find them often anti-climatic.  You may feel good for a few hours  but soon you will think of the next level of what you want.  Since human always want more, tying happiness at work to an “if” is like denying yourself ever having the chance to be happy NOW.
  8. Invest in the process, not the outcome – “Outcomes are totally beyond your control”  You’ll set yourself up for disappointment if you focus too much on what you hope to achieve rather than how you plan to get there.
    Lei:   We need to focus our attention on trying our best and believe that whatever happens is meant to be.
  9. Think about other people – Rao advocates inhabiting an “other-centered universe.” If the nice guy gets passed over for a promotion, he may still succeed in less tangible ways. “He may rise later in the shootout … I’m challenging the assumption that you need to be a dog-eat-dog person to survive in a corporate environment.”
    Lei:  Perhaps he also means that you can build good karma by helping others, then good things will also come to you in the long run.  You don’t need to play unfair politics or step on others to succeed.
  10. Swap multitasking for mindfulness – Instead of working on tasks for 20-minute intervals that you gradually increase to two-hour spans. Turn off any electronic gadgets that can be a distraction. With practice, you’ll be able to accomplish much more and with less effort.
    Lei:  I think what he means is in order to do multiple tasks effectively, you have to give each task enough time and effort.  Constantly switching between tasks waste time and leads you to be unhappy.

Your comments:  Do you agree with these tips?  Which are your favorites?  Share you comments below

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I am always in your corner.

– Lei

One thought on “Happiness at Work – 10 Tips from Professor Rao

  1. Han Solo Says Relax

    I like all of these except number six because I can remember the major things that bothered me 10 years ago and they haven’t really changed (nor do they hurt less). I think a lot of people wrestle with disturbing childhoods or unfocused educations that are still impacting them negatively decade(s) later so that one might be a hard sell.
    What would make more sense would be a reminder that change is constant and no terrible situation will last forever.


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