3 ways to bring back joy to work

3 ways to bring back joy to work

“I want to feel joy at work and feel like myself again,” says Barbara – a technology company CEO. She’s not alone. Leaders across different industries, locations, and roles are feeling less joy at work.

Research by American psychologist, educator, and author Martin Seligman has shown that feeling joy and happiness affects your wellbeing and performance.

Why we’re losing positivity

Why did positivity disappear for so many people in the last couple of years? Firstly, there was the pandemic and all the stress and changes it caused. Then there were worries about the economy causing lower demand, lay-offs, and an increased workload. It may seem that joy isn’t possible when we’re experiencing pain or challenges – so why bother pursuing it now?

According to research by University of California Professor, Sonja Lyobomirsky, only 10% of joy and happiness is due to circumstances and events. Her research shows that joy doesn’t require the absence of challenges. In which case, how do you bring back positivity at work when there are big challenges ahead?

It’s easier than you might think. What we know from research and what I notice from the leaders I work with, is that joy (and better performance) comes back when you are authentic, balanced, and mentally fit.

Be authentic

Being authentic means that you live by your values and strengths. Many leaders struggle with feeling inauthentic right now. That’s because every day, they have to show up and pretend they’re okay – even when they’re not. Leaders often gee themselves up, knowing that their people depend on them. A sustained disconnect between our authentic self and the behaviors we exhibit diminishes our well-being and performance.

To be more authentic and feel more engaged, use your strengths more. Your strengths are the unique positive parts of your personality. To identify your top strengths, ask yourself: ‘What energizes me?’ As an Executive Leadership Coach, I help people identify their strengths and build them into their day.

When I work with leaders who have lots of social strengths – like kindness and social intelligence – they usually discover that really connecting with others during the day gives them greater happiness. Leaders, who have creativity as one of their top strengths, discover they thrive when making time to come up with new ideas. And leaders who have a lot of wisdom in their strengths become more joyful by booking time in their calendars to learn more about something new. What this means is that when you carve out time in your schedule to use your unique strengths – even a half hour each day – it makes a huge difference to your wellbeing and performance.

Be balanced

What’s important in your life? Work? What else?

The most successful leaders I work with know what’s important in their lives. They plan time into their schedule for nonwork activities and all important people in their lives. That includes time for themselves, their family, and activities where they can use their strengths.

Successful leaders know that taking care of themselves first is not egotistical. It’s essential for them to be at their best and achieve sustainable joy and performance for themselves and their team.

Be mentally fit

Mental fitness is about training your brain to be in a positive mindset even when challenges happen, so you’re able to use your strengths. The opposite happens when we are in a negative mindset – like stress, frustration, anger, and self-doubt –  we are overusing and abusing our strengths turning those into our biggest weaknesses. When this happens, we have negative thoughts and feel negative emotions called saboteurs that sabotage us:

  • Empathy can turn you into a pleaser when you are in a negative mindset, saying ‘yes’ when you want to say ‘no’. You can easily forget to care for yourself.
  • Wisdom can mean when you’re stressed, you overuse your rational brain when dealing with people or complex issues.
  • Courage is great, but when you’re feeling negative emotions, it’s easy to overuse this strength and become a controlling leader.
  • Perfectionism, and the desire for order, can make you a stickler for details that may not be important.

If you’re curious about what might be sabotaging you, making you feel less joyful and stopping you from achieving your full potential – take the saboteur assessment here.

To recover faster to a positive mindset or your authentic self requires daily mental fitness practice, for at least 15 minutes a day.

The 3 mental muscles to practice for 15 minutes every day are:

  1. Intercept saboteurs
  2. Reset: focus on 1 thing and let go of your thoughts.
  3. Activate your positive mindset, the ‘sage’ part of your brain.

Bring back joy!

These last few years have been challenging for most people, both personally and professionally.

At times, joy can feel far from reach. As the economic, business, societal, and personal challenges persist, being your authentic self, balanced and mentally fit will help you find joy and create better performance for you and your team ahead — whatever challenge might be next!

Imagine what it would feel like if you and your team could achieve your true potential. Life is too short to work and live any other way. And you deserve it!

Why not book a 1-hour complimentary session with me to find out if we’re a good fit?  You can get in touch with me via my website vdbcoach.com or LinkedIn. Talk to you soon!

Further Reading:

  • Positive Intelligence: Why Only 20% Of Teams And Individuals Achieve Their True Potential And How You Can Achieve by Shirzad Chamine
  • The How Of Happiness: A New Approach To Getting The Life You Want by Sonja Lyobomirsky:
  • Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment by Martin Seligman