“Work harder on yourself than you do on your job.”

 ~ Jim Rohn ~

When it comes to the research results on happiness in the American workforce, the statistics are not flattering.  A recent survey, by the staffing firm Manpower Group, discovered that nearly two thirds of American and Canadian workers were not happy in their job. Another recent survey found that close to 60 percent of American workers were unhappy enough in their jobs to want a new career. Most of us have found ourselves at some point in a job that was not fulfilling.  While psychologists and social scientist believe that some of our happiness is predetermined by our genes, a major portion is within our control.

Regardless of our situation at work, here are 7 ways of maximizing our happiness.

Commit to continuous improvement as a lifetime goal

Happier people believe in doing the best they can whether or not they are given credit for the work they do.  Giving their best creates positive feelings about themselves.   This establishes character, builds self-regard and good work habits which will benefit them in the future regardless if anyone in their present position notices or cares.

Have goals worth striving for

People with clear goals (that they are working towards) are able to look beyond everyday workplace irritants and problems. They know the obstacle will be temporary and are able to see beyond this dilemma.  When things are not going well, they focus on their goals instead of the negative situation that surrounds them at work.

Don’t get caught up in issues beyond their control

Happier people don’t let themselves get emotionally caught up in negative vibe or gossip that is toxic in the workplace. They focus on the work at hand and on what they are able to do. They avoid becoming involved in issues and conflicts that do not include them and are beyond their area of concern.  Their focus is always to concentrate their attention and energies on areas that they have control over and give them a sense of satisfaction,

Are willing and ready to help others

Happy people are always looking for ways they can help others.  Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that people who helped others at work were happier than those who didn’t.  While helping others can lead to promotion, there are also warm feelings of satisfaction that come from helping out our fellow human beings.

Avoid negative people as much as possible

When coming across a negative person or chronic complainer at work, happy people find ways to refocus on coming up with solutions or looking at the situation from another angle. Their positive energy often causes complainers and whiners to avoid them as they know they will not receive a sympathetic ear.  Happy people are aware that negative people are an energy drain and find ways to limit the amount of time that they have to spend with them.

Make gratitude an integral part of their life

While striving for more in life, happy people are constantly aware of all the reasons they have to be grateful.  They express their gratitude freely and openly, being quick to offer thanks to those who help them or do a kind deed.  This attitude of gratitude attracts people to the positive energy they emit. Colleagues at work want to be around people like this and work with them.  When things are not going well at work, they choose to focus on events that have gone well in their lives.

Manage their emotions through smiling and use of humor

Happy people automatically try to make the most of every situation, whether at work, home or play.  They have discovered they can change their emotions by smiling, thinking of humorous events or situations.  They are also able to distract themselves by bringing memories of pleasant, happy, fun times and places. Whenever a situation comes up that threatens to engulf them in negative energy, they rely upon their ability to rise above and remain in a positive mental space.


  • Harvey Deutschendorf is an emotional intelligence expert, internationally published author and speaker.  To take the EI Quiz go to theotherkindofsmart.com.  His book THE OTHER KIND OF SMART, Simple Ways to Boost Your Emotional Intelligence for Greater Personal Effectiveness and Success has been published in 4 languages. Harvey writes for FAST COMPANY and has a monthly column with HRPROFESSIONALS MAGAZINE. You can follow him on Twitter @theeiguy.