Early in my professional career I was working in a consulting job that I didn’t like. Although it paid handsomely, this was a techno-legal project which did not seem to have a purpose and I was not making a whole lot of progress either. I would wake up dreading to go to work, and feeling like I wasn’t making a valuable contribution or difference to the firm. Instead, I would try to go back to sleep so that I could postpone thinking or working on the project, if only for a few more minutes. I don’t like to quit – call it a personal character flaw – so I also had trouble moving on to something else. Mercifully, the project was ultimately abandoned by the firm and I went on to numerous, way more fulfilling roles both in academia and the startup world. Having faced both experiences, I now appreciate how important it is to be happy at work. But why is it often so hard to achieve?
EdX’s mission is to expand access to high quality education worldwide, but we are also invested in ensuring that learners achieve the outcomes they want when they come to learn on our platform. This could be becoming more effective at work; getting a promotion or raise; changing jobs; or learning about a new subject that interests them. But we wanted to take a pause and make sure that our learners have resources available to help them to be happy at work right now.
The University of California at Berkeley, one of edX’s earliest partners, is home to the world-renowned Greater Good Science Center (GGSC), which for years has been at the fore of the scientific movement to study positive skills like empathy, gratitude, mindfulness, and resilience. In partnership with edX, the GGSC created The Science of Happiness, the first MOOC (massive open online course) to teach the ground-breaking science of positive psychology, which explores the roots of a happy and meaningful life. Since putting this course on edX , hundreds of thousands of learners have benefitted from the provocative and practical lessons in this course, discovering how this cutting-edge research can be applied to their own lives.
Recently, UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center expanded their Science of Happiness course into a Professional Certificate program focused specifically on happiness at work. This series of three courses teaches you how to be happy at work. Specifically, how to boost your own emotional well-being, support the well-being of colleagues and employees, and foster a workplace culture of happiness.
I used to believe that being happy at work (or really anywhere!) is a quality you’re born with, but this program from Berkeley showed me for the very first time that you can actually learn to be happy.
We asked Drs. Dacher Keltner and Emiliana Simon-Thomas, both of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, to share some tips that you can put into action right now to be happier at work:
1.Cherish the good times. When two people are faced with the same problem, one may take it on and come out stronger, while the other lets it bring them down. It’s impossible to be joyful at work all the time, but those that can see the humor or positivity even in a difficult situation often have a happier outlook.
2.Work with a purpose. A sense of purpose is a fundamental tenet of the psychology of motivation. Not everyone can work for a non-profit, B corp, or other mission-focused organization, but everyone has the ability to reframe their work to draw a connection between what you do and how it contributes to your team, or company, or society.
3. Practice resilience. The ability to recover from adversity, and keep on going, is key to happiness at work. You may be regularly receiving constructive feedback, and it’s important to be able to receive that with openness, and take the lessons forward to do your job better. Carrying a positive outlook and a supportive stance will help you not to dwell on past failures.
4. Tap into kindness. Kindness is often left at the door when we walk into work, but tapping into this key interpersonal skill is a great way to break down barriers and reconcile conflicts. Not to be confused with being nice – being kind creates authentic social bonds, helping teams to build trust and feel supported.