How to Be Happy at Work

Oct 2, 2014, Written by Haley Deprato

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In 2013, a Gallup Poll came out with strikingly daunting numbers. It found that 70% of Americans are disengaged from their jobs. Disengaged meaning that they are “emotionally disconnected from their workplaces.”

I’ve sat and pondered why this is true for a while now. Why are we so disconnected from the very thing that occupies a huge portion of our days, weeks, years and lives?

I don’t think any of us set out for this. That infamous question as we are younger, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” was innocent and full of possibility. We couldn’t wait to share our daring career choices.

But those big ideas quickly became mundane obligations in the form of 9-5 (if we’re lucky) days. Maybe our crushed, unrealistic dreams of becoming an astronaut or mermaid land us in a pit of sadness over the outcome of our career destiny. Maybe we’re just lazy. Or maybe our attitude shifts as we become more embedded in work.

Whatever the case, I hear more people complain about working and see more Facebook statuses shouting “Thank God, it’s Friday” than I’d like to admit.

Choosing Your Work

If you had the ability to wave a magic wand and never work again for the rest of your life, would you? Of course, that is an extremely naive and idealistic idea because our culture demands work in some capacity. But humor me and pretend it’s possible. If you really could choose to never work again, would you do it?

I’d like to say I wouldn’t, and if you are a Christian in business, I’d like to imagine that you wouldn’t either. And here’s why…

I believe that the business world needs more Jesus. It needs more people stepping up in their work and being a light in the darkness, staying engaged, and making a difference.

But what if you are unhappy with your current work? What if you are not feeling like much of a bright light? What I’ve come to realize is that, often, it is actually more difficult to change our career than it is to change our mindset about that career and about why we are there. The job market today often keeps us in our current jobs, even if we don’t love them, because we know that the grass isn’t very green on the other side. But changing our mindset about that job is possible at any moment in time. We have a choice here. A choice to see a purpose greater than ‘work.’

Work as a Calling

We can choose to see work as solely a career, necessary to provide income, to build our self-esteem and credentials, to climb the American success ladder, to make our college education worth it, to make our parents proud or to be the best. These reasons are not bad reasons, they are normal and natural and typical of workers. But I think that one of the main reasons we become disengaged in our jobs is because we aren’t doing it for something greater, for something more. These reasons carry little weight in the grand scheme of things. The joy of these accomplishments doesn’t last a lifetime. And so we start a job, possibly enthused, but then come to realize it’s not all it promised to be. It’s easy to become disengaged.

What if we, instead, choose to see our career as a calling. We can choose to use the gifts that God has uniquely and purposely given us to glorify Him and bless those around us. This doesn’t mean to only go into full time ministry, or to never be financially successful, or to give all of our money away. It means using the workplace for a bigger purpose, no matter what ‘workplace’ that is. A career as a calling is a mindset that you and I take on at whatever job we hold! God has called us to make Him known in every area of life, and that definitely includes the place where we spend most of our days. It’s looking for ways to use those long days to bless a coworker or honor your boss as authority or show a positive attitude in the face of failure. It’s using the resources you gain from that job to bless your family and those in need. It’s seeing every single day as a new opportunity to love God and love the people around you.

We have a choice to make our career count. To see the beauty in using those jobs for God’s glory. To fight the temptation to become disengaged and stay emotionally connected and invested in the career that we hold.

You see, at the end of our lives, we will have spent on average a total of 90,000 hours at work (Psychology Today). That’s a lot of time that I don’t want to waste being disengaged.

Will we make it count?

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Haley Deprato