You stare at the computer screen.
You quietly check your Facebook news feed.
You daydream about that next vacation.
Most of us have known that I’d-rather-be-anywhere-but-work feeling.
Even though employee wellness and happiness are a greater focus than ever for many companies, a recent Gallup Poll finds that more than 20 percent of employees in North America and Europe are actively disengaged from their jobs.
This apathy, reports Gallup, is also costing the U.S. economy $550 billion a year.
“What if the greatest threat to capitalism,” asked William Davies in a recent Atlantic article, “is simply lack of enthusiasm and activity?”
And, he warns that boredom at work shows up as chronic health problems.
So, what do all these apathetic workers need?
More vacations? Bigger offices?
Most studies indicate that such perks are a temporary boost to on-the-job engagement. They don’t permanently relieve the boredom, stress and depression which some studies indicate can lead to a variety of health issues.
What could permanently conquer employment doldrums?
There’s really only one thing that will do that — a change in how you view things. Sounds easy, but what would that mental change look like in practice?
Here are three tips for greater happiness from and better health on the job:
1. Stay dedicated
You’ve recognized that you’re always looking for a new job. Constantly polishing up that résumé. Ambition is great, but sprinting from job to job in search of happiness may not be the answer.Forbes reports that 91 percent of millennials will change jobs every 4.4 years. While this new generation of workers is more interested in meaningful, satisfying work than previous generations were, dedication to more long-term work can bring job happiness. Take the example of Jiro Ono — with 75 years of devotion to his job as a chef. He says, “Even at my age, in my work I haven’t reached perfection.”
Ono is an exception, but the competence and skill that go with long-term efforts can offer a lot of satisfaction.
2. Be grateful
If you are plugging away at the job — learning, offering your best — and still are not happy? Try gratitude. Although social media is blanketing the world with gratitude reminders, surveys show that Americans feel and express less gratitude at work than anywhere else.Find something and someone to be grateful for every day at work.
3. Love your job.
“What?” I hear you saying. “There’s no way.”
This guy I know tells the story of his job as a dishwasher. Hated it. What a dead-end, boring, lackluster job. After months of washing mountains of dishes, he thought to himself: “Why wait for a better job? Can’t I be happy now?” He decided to love his job. Yes, he simply made a conscious choice to change his view and love his job.
He began to wash every dish with love and appreciation. He described it as “cultivating a deep feeling of God’s love with every move.” Within a few days, he had two better job offers. So, you’re thinking, then he was happy, right? Hold up.
I think he would tell you that his happiness-on-the-job had already turned a corner before the new job offers. His subsequent change of location and activity had nothing to do with it. Once he expressed love for the task at hand, the satisfaction and joy bubbled up. And that mental change moved him forward.
Mary Baker Eddy, Christian healer and author, who worked happily without a vacation for almost 40 years, speaks of this kind of mental change. She writes: “Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true, and you will bring these into your experience proportionably to their occupancy of your thoughts.”
We can all think of jobs, people and circumstances that seem “enduring, good and true.” But lifting our thinking above the human scene to acknowledge the Divine brings a peace that is free of dead-end or shifting circumstances. It brings security and joy to acknowledge the ultimate nature of goodness as divine, as unchanging love, as exemplified in the life of Christ Jesus. Viewing goodness and satisfaction through that mental lens makes our daily joy less chancey, more steady.
So, perhaps happiness is more dependent on present-tense recognition of the good going on in your life than some future perfect job, ideal location or set of circumstances.
Can you be happy if you have to move to a smaller office?
If you have an irritating boss?
If you have to wash dishes to make ends meet?
The answer is yes. Your happiness is an inside job, no matter where you are, who your boss is, or how mundane the task. That spiritual sense of love and appreciation of what is good in the here-and-now can transform your thinking and your life.
Bloomington’s Sharon Andrews is a member of the Christian Science Committee on Publication and a media and legislative liaison for Christian Science for Indiana. She can be reached at Indiana@compub.org.