Tag Archives: Happiness

Why do you work?

Feeling disillusioned with your work? Other than the money, not sure why you pitch up at work every day? You’re not alone. Reflecting on their recent State of the Global workplace report, Gallup indicates the 85% of employees around the world are not engaged, or are actively disengaged at work, representing an estimated cost of $7 trillion in lost productivity. The majority of these employees are ‘not engaged’, which doesn’t make them the worst performers in their organizations, but it does suggest that they are indifferent to the organization’s work or success. As Jim Harter points out, this does not equate to employee laziness. The far more probable cause is a lack of recognition of, and investment in, employee motivation and engagement. The result is employees who show up to work and offer their time, but not very much more.

This type of data is more often interpreted from the organizational perspective: what can the business do to increase employee engagement in order to improve results? This is an important question, but there is another obvious perspective that is less often tapped into with real depth: what about the individual? What impact does it have on a person to be spending the majority of her waking hours on work that is not engaging or meaningful to her? What would become available to a disengaged employee if his work became a source of satisfaction and purpose? These questions underlie – consciously or unconsciously – the career moves that many experienced individuals find themselves negotiating. Of course, everyone wants to be paid well or, at least, what they are worth. But beyond that is a more fundamental human drive: to be seen, to be appreciated, to feel of value. Work can either kill that drive or liberate it.

But, as anyone who has experience of holding an ungratifying job knows, changing the game is not as simple as recognizing that you’re unhappy (though, for many people that recognition is itself a major eye-opener). A balance is required between interior reflection and action in the world. Most self-help programs focus on one or the other. In working with clients in such situations I have found it helpful to draw on Ken Wilber’s four quadrant analysis. Essentially, we are all continuously engaged with four quadrants of reality:

  1. Our own individual interior: eg. thoughts, feelings values. As you read this post, for example, you are having some form of emotional and intellectual response that is entirely personal and invisible to anyone around you.
  2. Our own individual exterior: eg. body, actions, physical energy. For example, right now you are involved in the action of reading, but your heart is beating, you are holding a particular posture, neurons are firing in your brain.
  3. Our own collective interior: all humans – even hermits – form part of some kind of collective. And every collective has shared values, cultural norms or common feeling. As you read this, you have a cultural context of which you form a part. You have a perspective on what I am writing that is partly based in your social values.
  4. Our collective exterior: we are all embedded in systems and meta-systems greater than ourselves. As you are reading this online, you are connected to a technological system called the internet; outside your window you witness the manifestation of weather and climate, and in some way or another you are currently paying for data, thus playing a part of a broader economic system.

Though you will have a subtle bias towards one perspective – a ‘native perspective’ – none of these quadrants is more important than the others. They all arise concurrently and with equal value. So, in deciding how to engage with a significant topic like choosing a new career direction, I ask clients to pay attention to all four quadrants. Part of this process requires an evaluation of what is important to that client – basically answering the question ‘Why do you work?’ – and another aspect will be the commitment to action.

Here are some suggestions if you find yourself seeking work that will pay you well enough and provide you with meaning:

  1. Consider the types of things that you are passionate about, the pursuits that energize you or that increase your wellbeing when you are engaged in them. Basically, identify what kind of activities make you happy – don’t think in terms of ‘jobs’, think in terms of enjoyment and gratification. For now, don’t eliminate any of them for being ‘unrealistic’ – this is an exploratory exercise and every contribution is valuable.
  2. Make a list of jobs or work that incorporate these activities or draw on skills or aptitudes that you use in these activities. If you think of a job that correlates with a personal passion but requires a skill that you don’t currently have, identify that missing skill, write down what would be required to acquire it, and find out where you can learn that skill at what cost.
  3. Talk to friends and colleagues who are happy in their work. Ask them to share how they found that work, what guided them to it and how they would go about finding a new job if, for some reason, this one came to an end. Also look back at point 2 and check whether anyone in your current network is involved in one of the lines of work identified in your list. And expand your network by connecting on social media with new contacts in your target areas – LinkedIn, facebook and twitter are great places to start, though each of those platforms have more or less relevance depending on your industry.
  4. Determine how much money you need to make, consider your work experience, explore market opportunities, and come up with a plan. This plan will partly include the steps above as your refine and repeat the process of honing in your dream work and build on network connections. Most importantly, build an image of what your life will look like when you have work that satisfies you and offers you the lifestyle you desire. This vision is your compass – create a physical impression of it if that helps you – and can act as your anchor in the bigger picture as you deal with the practicalities of career change.

This process may sound simple, but the challenges involved are many and unique to every person. It will not always be easy, which is why I always recommend working with a coach or mentor of some kind, but I truly believe that happiness at work is your right. Claim it.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Visit Koach.net to discover how our coaches can help you find clarity at work and at home, and can lead you to a more successful and fulfilled you.

Your story, our platform: If you’ve got a story and would like to share it with other Femflectors, please let us know. Femflection is all about transferring learnings to help others, be they big or subtle. We want to connect with your feelings, your learnings, your reflections or your hopes for the future – in blog or interview format. Express yourself here. Get in touch with us via anja.uitdehaag@femflection.com

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The happiness factor


My youngest child turned eight yesterday, and the unbridled joy that poured from her on her birthday was infectious. It was an understated but close family celebration, and she reveled in being the center of attention for an entire day. From presents to cake to games to photos, my daughter smiled and laughed and danced. It occurred to me that she was happy – spontaneously, effusively happy. It also occurred to me that the difference between children and most adults I know is not principally whether they are happier or not, it is that they don’t try to be happy. Happiness is a powerful emotion. It has been associated with having a healthier heart, a stronger immune system and a longer life. But the main reason we’re attracted to it is because it feels so good. That’s the reason it is the final objective of almost the entire bookshelf of the self-help industry: stronger relationships, more money, greater sense of purpose, higher success, a more desirable job – in one way or another these make us feel happy, at least for a period of time. It is also the reason that the self-help industry is worth more than $11 billion a year in the US alone, and the global depression drug market is poised to surge to $16.80 billion by 2020. Everyone is after the happy kick, whether they find it in a book, a podcast or a pill.

This is in the context of global increases in depression and anxiety, and what seems to be a growing aversion to not feeling good. We have come to regard emotions like sadness, anger and loneliness as ‘bad’. Undoubtedly, they don’t feel great, but just like all emotions they contain information that can be used to make better decisions. Writing off ‘negative’ feelings eliminates a large portion of the human spectrum of emotions, leaving us chasing a one-dimensional ‘happy’ version of life. And the chase itself is damaging, because in our achievement-obsessed culture happiness is frequently sold as a goal that needs to be attained. If you’re not attaining it and everyone else is – as appears to be the case every time you log onto social media – you must be a failure, which is generally how you end up feeling after an hour of looking at your friends’ holiday photos on facebook. And Martin Seligman – who’ll we’ll meet later – identified the risk of this constant sense of failure in his depression-related theory of Learned Helplessness: after enough conditioning in pain and suffering, human beings will begin to believe that they have no control over what happens to them, and will begin to assume helplessness.

Rather than a goal, happiness is a state – a composite of psychological, neurological, physiological and even spiritual elements, the blend of which varies from person to person and time to time. But, as Dr Rick Hanson proposes in his book Resilience, this changeable state can be made more of a habit by utilizing the brain’s dependent neuroplasticity. Proactively engaging in positive behaviour supports the creation and reinforcement of neural pathways that generate higher levels of wellbeing. Proactivity is an important part of this concept. As Stephen Covey points out,

‘[Proactivity] means more than merely taking initiative. It means that, as human beings, we are responsible for our own lives. Our behaviour is a function of our decisions, not our conditions.’

It’s an attitude that directly counters Learned Helplessness, which is why it is the cornerstone of Martin Seligman’s other great contribution to mental wellbeing: positive psychology. In his work on depression Seligman came to the view that modern psychology was too strongly focused on pathology and mental illness, and not focused enough on mental wellness. Basically, mental health practitioners were spending most of their time analyzing what was wrong, and not really looking at what was right. When Seligman was elected President of the American Psychological Association in 1998 he used the opportunity to promote a new approach to psychology, one based on the positive, the uplifting and the inspiring. Sounds great, but what about the painful and the sad? Life isn’t just unicorns and rainbows. Positive psychology agrees, intentionally embracing the more difficult aspects of human experience, but granting them the weight they really deserve. Yes, things can be bad and it’s important to acknowledge that, but things are seldom as bad as we make them out to be and that’s important to acknowledge too.

Seligman’s perspective has become widely popular, not because it’s another feelgood fad aimed at denying the challenges of the human condition, but because it lends itself to practical and accessible long-term change. Rick Hanson’s work reveals that the cumulative effect of small habit changes can be profound and, to echo Viktor Frankl, the capacity for positive change resides in all humans. Yet, this is not the same as chasing happiness – this requires a willingness to be self-compassionate and accepting of what is, not an obsessive attachment to what could be.

Click here for a list of simple practices that help build emotional wellbeing.

Photo by Luca Upper on Unsplash


Visit Koach.net to discover how our coaches can help you find clarity at work and at home, and can lead you to a more successful and fulfilled you.

Your story, our platform: If you’ve got a story and would like to share it with other Femflectors, please let us know. Femflection is all about transferring learnings to help others, be they big or subtle. We want to connect with your feelings, your learnings, your reflections or your hopes for the future – in blog or interview format. Express yourself here. Get in touch with us via anja.uitdehaag@femflection.com

For more content visit our website http://www.femflection.com

How to move on when You Don’t Feel Valued at Work

Maslov.pngBy: Angie Falls

Day in day out I put my efforts in an ever-changing company. Unfortunately, my efforts go unnoticed. After numerous attempts to get promoted and define my responsibilities, I get involved in this with managers who are not capable to turn this around.

It is time I highlight my achievements in every aspect of work. I now have set a deadline for the situation being changed or leave the company. On the other hand, leaving the company would be the easy way out. I choose to challenge the organization.

I read an article on the topic to get some theoretical insight;

What the Experts Say Continue reading

happiness is a choice.


By: Angie Falls

Just last week I went to an event which was focused on happiness. What is happiness and how can we achieve that state in life? It made me think about my own situation. My personal life and my work life. Do I have the good work-life balance? Am I not too much busy with work and neglecting my personal relationships? In the end, it is all about relationships. How to get new relationships and most of all how to maintain the relationships. I love meeting new people. Get to know them through their stories.

Continue reading

How To Slay As A Single Working Mom

by matheen

We all know how challenging it is to be a working mom with a partner or a husband — but imagine — what more if you’re single and alone? Certainly, solo parenting has its own special and unique set of challenges. Below are a few lists of common issues that single moms share and struggle with: Continue reading

Brendon Burchard, “The Motivation Manifesto”







Reviewed by Femflection

Brendon Burchard is a #1 New York Times bestselling author whose books include The Charge, The Millionaire Messenger, and Life’s Golden Ticket. Continue reading