I was helping a client sort through an internal struggle she’d been having at work.

How to be Happy at Work

We were talking about what she valued most in her work and at the top of the list was “happiness”.

Then she started sharing what she meant by happiness, and surprisingly the word that came up three times was “fulfillment”.

I asked,

“Which value in your career do you prioritize higher?  Happiness or fulfillment?”

It took her a minute, but this simple question led to an amazing insight on how to be happy at work.

The Benefits of Being Happy at Work

Happiness at work can be like chasing the Holy Grail and often feel like you’ll never find it.

But by taking a deeper look at happiness at work you’ll discover:

  • Less Stress – When “stuff” comes up at work, you’re able to maintain perspective.  Things just don’t seem that overwhelming.
  • Attraction – Your co-workers are more drawn to you and more likely to follow your lead on projects.  You may even be invited to more happy hours.
  • Ease – It’s easier to break through barriers as they come up.  You’ve got more energy and momentum to overcome obstacles at the office.  For example, you’re ready to tackle the difficult conversation with your colleague or bite off the next office fire drill that pops up.
  • Pep – Not a word we often use at Corp, but this is the “zing” in your step when your walking from meeting-to-meeting or calling on customers. It impacts every conversation you have.
  • Focus – You’ll find yourself more present throughout the work day and to the actions you’re taking.

Happiness at work is probably sounding pretty good at this point but realize…

Seeking Happiness at Work is a Trap

Have you ever found yourself dreaming about a job that makes you happy?

While it seems reasonable on the surface, it is actually be a massive trap.

It’s a huge trap because “happiness” can be about as vague a concept as they come.

With the vagueness around happiness, it can be a distraction from finding the job you love.

To test this theory try asking your friends, “What makes you happy?”.

You’ll get a different answer (or even multiple answers) for every person you ask.

Or consider your last few weekends, and you can probably select moments when you were ”happy” like:

  • Spending time at the park with your family.
  • Going out for or cooked a delicious meal.
  • Seeing a fantastic movie that kept you on the edge of your seat.

All of things can be fun and all can make you happy.

At the root of it though is that these things are temporary enjoyment, and they totally miss the stuff deep down.

Being Happy at Work is like Getting High

Experiencing happiness at work can actually feel great.

How to be Happy at Work

It’s like the sugar high you get from eating a tasty cupcake, delivering on your first big savings project, or closing the big deal for your team.

Of course experiencing happiness is a crucial part of having a job you love.

But again, it’s a temporary lift and it’s not a feeling that you can carry with you.

There always seems to be the happiness crash (aka sugar crash) which leaves you tired or even sad afterwards.

Then to feed the addiction you’re off looking for the next “feel good moment” to restore that happy feeling.

This includes signing up for the easy projects around the office, (also known as the low-hanging fruit) and anything else to get a quick win.

There’s nothing wrong with bringing home lots of office wins, but realize that when it become the foundation of what do all day at the office you’re going to burnout.

There’s got to be something more to it….something deeper.

Ultimately you can experience happiness without ever being fulfilled.

How to be Happy at Work

You can find a more sustainable answer for being happy at work by prioritizing fulfillment over happiness

Before asking “What makes me happy?” begin with “What makes me feel fulfilled?”

Sometimes you get lucky, and it’s the same thing.

Maybe you experience both in those sales calls you’re making or the projects you’re working on at work.

However, often the things that make you fulfilled won’t necessarily make you happy before you do it (or even during).

But when you’re done, you’re fulfilled.

This shows up for me sometimes when I’m publishing a new article on my blog, have a big presentation in Corporate, or when I’m in an Improv scene on stage with a new partner.

It can be anxiety provoking and even uncomfortable beforehand, but when I’m done I’m satisfied, at peace, and energized.

If you want to have a fulfilling job and wake up energized and pumped about your career, you’ve got to choose fulfillment over comfort.

Choosing comfort may lead to short term happiness and even contentment but rarely to fulfillment.

How to Identify the Work that Makes You Fulfilled and Happy

How to Be Happy and Fulfilled at Work

So what’s the best way to go about being happy work and have a job that’s fulfilling?

Here are 5 Key Questions to Get You Started

  1. What are the defining moments that influence your experience at work?
  2. What work do you do where others show you appreciation?
  3. What work are you doing when you experience gratefulness, confidence, and even bravery?
  4. What work are you doing when you feel like you’re making a difference?
  5. What work are you doing where you experience a relaxed, yet energized mind and body afterwards?


So before you choose to undertake that new job endeavor or project, think about whether it makes you really feel fulfilled or not.

See what happens.

To Igniting Your Career!



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