How to be Happy at Work – 5 Things to Give up Today

We can all be happier at work. It’s in our control and we can all learn how to be happy at work.  A friend shared a great article with me called 15 Things You Should Give Up In Order to be Happy.  This list was a great eye opener.  While this list was not career specific, I find it very applicable to helping be happier at work.    Here are five things we should give us today to be happier at work.

First – Give up your need to always be right – when we try to be right, we are in effect always trying to make someone else wrong.  Work is never that black and white.  By trying to always be right, we can severely damage important relationships we have with colleague, boss, or customers.  If we can try to focus on solutions going forward together instead of being right, we can have less stress and better relationships at work.

Second – Give up attachment, your need for control and your resistance to change– this is all about giving up the need to have work be the way we expect it to be.  If we have no expectations, then we cannot be disappointed or unhappy.  But we can always find that we have both implicit or explicit expectations about what we want work to be to be happy (e.g, pays well, work with great people and boss, challenging work, makes a difference).  Because of these expectations, we tend to want to exert control over them when we are not getting what we want or resist adapting to change when it’s unexpected.   This need for work to be a certain way is the root cause for much unhappiness.   Stay open minded and be willing to adapt to changes as things happen at work.   This way, when unexpected things happen, you are already working to take action, instead of feeling bad about it.

“By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try. The world is beyond winning.” Lao Tzu

Third – Give up on blame, complaining, the luxury of criticism, and the past – we can waste a lot of time at work dwelling on the past, usually something that happened that we didn’t like.   This can leads us down a very negative thought pattern toward others and wastes time.  As I have written about before, it’s important to forgive and forget.  Once you start down the path of complaining, criticizing, and blaming, no productive progress can come out of it.  To feel good about yourself only by putting others down is not the path to happiness at work.   Karma dictates if you do that, someone will most likely return the “favor” in the future.   so why go down that path?

Fourth – Give up your self-defeating self-talk, limiting beliefs, labels, fears, and excuses – along the same lines of giving up negative thoughts about others, it’s also critical to give up negative thoughts about yourself and what you are capable of doing.  We can choose what we tell ourselves.  If this is the case, why not choose to tell ourselves inspiring things like “I know I can do it.  Why not try that? What’s the harm?”  For example, with this post, I am already noticing some internal dialogue telling me “maybe I am not spending enough time to write it.  What if It’s not good?” But I am going to keep going, because if I dwell on those thoughts, you may never see this post as we never have enough time to do things.  Frankly, I rather tell myself, “It doesn’t need to be perfect.  Just write from the heart and send it out.  If one person read it and get something from this, then I would have made a small difference and if no one does, this post is still a great reminder to me on how to be happy with work and life.  😉

“The mind is a superb instrument if used rightly. Used wrongly, however, it becomes very destructive.” Eckhart Tolle
“A belief is not an idea held by the mind, it is an idea that holds the mind” Elly Roselle

Last, but not the least – Give up your need to impress others and living your life to other people’s expectations – Many people fall in this trap because we live in a society that loves to flaunt material wealth and compare status – the kind of car we drive, house we own, school our kids goes to.   We all have a choice on whether to subscribe to other’s “standards” or “expectations.”  Why not try setting your own standards and not worry about what other people think?  They are worried about themselves 99% of the time anyway.  That can free us from many burdens of life that we don’t actually need to take on.  For example, I drive an 12 year old car even though I can afford a brand new Mercedes – why? Because I rather save my money and have the freedom to work less and spend time on this blog or be with my kids.  No one is ever impressed with my car, but I don’t actually care.   I know what matters to me and my family and that’s the only thing I want to take care of.

As you can see, this list is much easier said than done.  Personally, I struggle with #1 and #5.  What’s important is we can all try if we are aware of what we are choosing to give up and not give up.  Just know when we choose not to give something up; the price is our happiness.  Sometimes that perspective alone can help us all make small positive changes.

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Your comments: What are you willing to give up to be happy at work and in life? I look forward to your comments below.

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Veronica Lenz

Thank you for this enlightening article, Lei. It is so true that we walk along our work path carrying such a large and unnecessary weights on our backs and drag so many chains…. And it’s in our hands, or rather in our will power to get rid of many, or all of these burdens to achieve a happier life, both during working days and in our “everyday” lives.
I would like to have your permission to translate it to Spanish and share it with colleagues, co-workers and friends.
Thanks again,