04 Sep What Forbes recommends for happiness at work
by Peggy Drexler
In 1998, psychologist Martin Seligman announced he was founding a new branch of psychology—one that, unlike old-fashioned psychology, focused more on the brighter sides of human nature than on the negative, dysfunctional, or pathological. His theory: That by looking at what makes you healthy and happy—rather than what makes you miserable and lonely—you’re more likely to achieve that healthier, happier state. It’s a subtle shift in the framing of how to view things, but studies show it’s one that actually works: A 2013 analysis of 39 studies totaling more than 6,000 participants and published in the journal BMC Public Health found that positive psychology interventions were indeed effective in enhancing psychological well-being and reducing depression.
Happiness isn’t a state of being, but a process that must be worked at and approached methodically. And it’s a process that holds special relevance for women in the workplace. More than men, women have a tendency to fear ambition and success often unconsciously. Women worry they’re not deserving of the promotion, or the raise; they’re concerned success will alienate them from their friends and potential partners; they don’t ask for what they want. Applying some of the principles of Positive Psychology has helped more than a few women reach their full potential without apology or fear. Studies show that greater levels of workplace happiness can help both workers and businesses flourish—one reason a number of Fortune 500 companies have, in recent years, begun to adopt Positive Psychology as a management tool to foster greater employee satisfaction and productivity.
Liza, a market analyst at a mid-sized firm, was someone who again and again got caught up in her defeats. When she didn’t manage to make a goal her boss had set for her, or which she had set for herself, she tended to obsess about what had gone wrong. “I thought of it as learning from my mistakes,” she said. “But as time went on, it became harder and harder for me to let go of slip ups, to move on from them.” Instead, she’d find herself dwelling on old errors and losing confidence in her abilities. She started to dread going to work. In the simplest terms, she wasn’t learning from her mistakes but, rather, letting her mistakes define her and keep her from moving forward. She also lost sight of those qualities that had made her a good analyst in the first place.
It’s an easy trap to fall into, especially for women. But Positive Psychology is about being proactive rather than reactive, and, in its simplest terms, shifting the emphasis away from what’s wrong with a certain work situation (or situations), or what needs solving, to what is right, and then going after that.
A few ways to start working positive.
Focus on what you’re good at. Too timid to speak up in meetings? Unable to think quickly on your feet? Instead of laser focusing on your faults, or even improving your workplace weaknesses, incorporate into every workday something at which you excel: managing others, say, or writing compelling briefs. Similarly, instead of obsessing over a goal you didn’t reach, move on and focus your energy on current successes, and ones soon to come…
…keep reading more about happiness at work HERE