How To Be Happy At Work

JANUARY 7, 2015


Let me tell you the tale of two workplaces.

When I started my first job, I just assumed I would be happy at work because marketing/PR is known for being a fun career. But I was miserable. I felt like my boss hated me, and the exciting work I thought I would be doing ended up being stressful, monotonous and unnecessarily tedious. But I’ve worked with unhappy people in the past, and I was determined not to be one of them. That year, I learned a few tricks on how to be happy at work that I’m going to share with you today.

But the story doesn’t stop there. I still ended up leaving that agency for another company that is the 11th Best Place to Work in PA. I was excited to work for such a great company and not have to worry about enjoying my 9-5. But three months later, I felt just as unfulfilled as before. I didn’t understand, the perks were great and my salary was much higher than before, I had no reason to be unhappy like I was at my previous job. I’ve come to realize that no matter what job you have, there are always going to be things you don’t like about it.

Being happy at work isn’t impossible, but it does require a conscious effort, some of which—like going to the gym when spring hits—can feel uncomfortable. It’s worth it in the end so get over it. Exercise is good for you and so are these next 5 steps.

Know What Makes You Miserable

Is it the poisonous company culture, stuffy office or tedious tasks? Creating a list of the things that make you unhappy at work will benefit you in two ways:

1) It will show you what you can change to become happy

2) When you look for your next job, you have clear red flags to watch out for so you don’t end up in the same situation again.

It’s important though not to dwell on the negative. Once you make the list, change what you can in your work life and then set it aside and focus on the positives.


Create Your Own Happiness

You might not enjoy your day-to-day tasks or the place that you work, but there are always little things you can do to bring a smile to your face. Create an awesome music playlist, have snack subscription boxes delivered to your work, become friends with a coworker.

One thing that is important to me is feeling like my work is making a difference in the world.

My friend, Cassidy, finds her happiness in responses from her customers: “I get wonderful emails and phone calls from our customers thanking us for our services. At the end of the day, that makes it all worth it for me.”


Learn How to Communicate

I’m not supporting complaining, but it’s important to respectfully voice your unhappiness to a manager, especially if there is something that can be done about it.

Abide by the No Complaining Rule: Don’t complain unless you have a solution that follows.

Work on communicating by going over what you want to say to a spouse or enrolling in a course with an organization like Toastmasters, which has lessons that specifically teach you how communicate in difficult situations like this.


Change Your Attitude

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” – Maya Angelou

A cynical or negative attitude can vacuum months if not years out of our lives. According to an article in the Huffington Post, hating your job can lower your immune system, make you fat, ruin your relationships and give you insomnia.

But hating your job is your choice. You can change jobs (and you probably have a really good reason to) but I think in the end you will find, like I did, that what really needs changed is your attitude.


Become Enlightened…

…Or as one of my coworkers say “brainwashed.” In my personal life the books below have made a tremendous difference in my happiness at work. And in some ways “brainwashing” is a fairly accurate term because they will help point out the dirty spots in our thinking and wash away any negativity.

Books: The Energy Bus, The Power of Positive Thinking, The Oz Principle, and The Happiness Advantage.



  • Jen at The Freedom Leap 3 years ago

    I really loved reading this post because the advice about not complaining and changing your attitude is spot on! I was the miserable unhappy worker 2 years ago and now, looking back, I realised that a lot of it was my own attitude towards it. I don’t regret taking the leap and starting a business, and the misery was a big motivation in me doing that, but I could’ve been happier and enjoyed my life more during that period. I encourage my clients who’re feeling like this right now to start finding things at work that they DO appreciate, and focus on them.

    • Emily 3 years ago

      First, congratulations on your new big adventure! We’re so happy to hear Ali’s advice had a positive impact on you and you’re able to share that insight with your clients. It’s a perspective we’re working to keep in mind too. Keep in touch – we’d love to hear how your business is doing and growing!