Your work can make you happier… really.

By Career Happiness

From short order cook at Roy Roger’s to heavy lifting on an assembly line to bellhop/doorman at a hotel, I had many jobs that were not particularly enjoyable.  Half of my legal career was similar. I enjoyed my public service jobs and did not like my private sector jobs.  With work that I didn’t like, work was a mood deflator.  I might have entered work in a good mood but by the end of the day I was less happy – except that I was happy to be going home. That is the way of life for most people.

In the early 1990s, I read Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Flow could be simply described as having a satisfying experience.  Picture a craftsman at his trade. The book described the state of flow that some people derive at work.  The “click” for me was that work could be source of enjoyment.  I didn’t have to toil away in misery.  If I found work I liked, then I would go to work happily.  I was in law school at the time.  Just a short while before, I had relished my undergraduate education where I experienced flow continually in my psychology, philosophy, theology, history, and English classes.  I loved reading and writing.  I loved learning new concepts in class. School was a mood enhancer. During law school, I was beginning to clock watch and school was becoming a mood deflator.

Now, on most days, my mood is uplifted due to work.  I’m in a flow state quite often. While I prefer to spend time with my wife and children than working, I prefer my work to many other activities. I’m often reluctant to tell friends about how much I love my work because I worry that I’ll create some negative self-reflection.  If you are reading this blog, I don’t want that to be the case.  But, I do want you to know that there is hope.  You can like your work.

Your work can be a mood enhancer.