Happy Saturday! I am so grateful to have this weekend to spend time with loved-ones and friends and also take some time for self-care and reflection. If you have a day or two off this week, I hope you are able to do the same. I know many people spend their weeks looking forward to the weekend as a time to take a break from their jobs. The reality is that, no matter how you feel about your job, it probably causes you some stress, and for some, going to work is very stressful. According to Statistics Canada, in 2010, over 1 in 4 Canadian workers describe their day-to-day lives as highly stressful. Working a stressful job can leave you feeling like you do not have the time or energy to do things that really light you up or allow you to share your gifts with others.
An author I admire named Jonathan Fields has studied happiness for many years and in his book How to Live a Good Life he shares a method for improving your happiness that involves making sure you fill the three “buckets” in your life – Connection, Contribution and Vitality. The Contribution bucket is all about feeling you are sharing your gifts with others and contributing to the world in a meaningful way. This can feel very difficult to achieve when you don’t feel that your job allows you to share the gifts you are most proud of, or you feel like you are not making a difference, either because you do not view your work as meaningful enough or because you feel like you are trying very hard to make a difference but you are getting no where because the challenges you face at work are too great.
Gabby Bernstein is an author and speaker I truly admire and she has touched on this dilemma in many of her talks. She shares a story of a close friend who was working full time at a office job that he did not feel was in alignment with what he wanted for his life or the way he wanted to feel. He was miserable but he was unable to quit. Her advice to him was to take on a new perspective by deciding it was his job to be the light at his workplace.
If you identify with her friend’s story, or you just want to make your workplace a happier place to be, here are some ways you can share your love and light at work.
Tell your colleagues you appreciate them. Think about how often you feel like you are working so hard and no one notices or acknowledges you for it. It feels great to have your hard work acknowledged so take a second to compliment someone on something they have created or accomplished or just let them know that you have noticed how hard they have been working. This is a sure-fire way to make someone smile and increase the positive vibes in your workplace. If you work on your own, can you direct this gratitude towards your customers or clients?
Ask a coworker about their personal life. When you are stressed, it is nice to take your mind off of work and think of something you enjoy for a moment. If you are usually too busy to chat with your colleagues, try asking them how their weekend was or how they are enjoying their book club/sports team/new neighbourhood/pet. Bonus points if you show that you remember something about them because it will make them see that you care about them as an individual.
Change the tone when your coworkers are gossiping or venting. When you are stressed about work, it is easy to want to vent to people who will understand your frustrations. However, I find that I feel even more stressed out or just generally “icky” after I speak negatively about a person or situation at work. I find the best response to this is to listen quietly so your coworker knows you do care but then gently guide the conversation to a more optimistic place by saying something like, “Well, you never know. It could turn out better than we think it will,” or, “I’m sorry to hear that. Please let me know if you can help me with that,” and then stating the “bright side” of the situation or changing the subject to something positive.
Start a workplace gratitude practice. Do you have a whiteboard or cork board at work that you and your coworkers can use to post good things that have happened to them that week or things they love about their colleagues or job? How about an online forum? Help everyone notice that there are positive aspects to your job too.
Do something at work just for fun. Is there something you can organize at your workplace that will allow you and your coworkers to just have some fun together? Maybe you are interested in organizing a sports team or you have a space where you can run intermural athletics. If you want to make lunch time something to look forward to, have your coworkers each sign up for a Friday as their day to bring in lunch and treats for everyone at your workplace or in your department. If you don’t want to organize something regular, how about just inviting everyone to meet at a restaurant after work one Friday?
How do you spread love, light and fun at your workplace? I would love to hear your ideas!
Love and light,