Should We Spread Our Joy?


Let me just get my answer out there. OF COURSE!

Sometimes I meet people who are traditionally happy and joyous throughout the year, but who, for reasons of not wanting to upset other people, suddenly downplay their natural positivity in the month of December. As I say, these are the kind of people who are naturally upbeat, positive and happy. Having empathy for others who may not be going through the best of times around December, and Christmas in particular, they go against their nature and act subdued.

I believe there’s another line of thinking which justifies sharing our own happiness and joy with whomever we interact. This is the act of being true to ourselves, and if that means our actions, words, tone of voice, smiling faces and overall positivity is in stark contrast to some others, it can have a startling affect.

For starters, being positive can uplift people. After all, do you want to be around people who are gloomy, sullen and suck energy or would you rather choose to be around people who energize you, make you smile,  bring you happiness just by being in their midst? These are the very people Scrooge once said, “…should be boiled in his own Christmas pudding”; the ones who go around wishing everyone a merry Christmas.

Now I’ve also heard the argument that because unemployed and impoverished people are affected so greatly by the season, which often accentuates their feelings of want and need, we should scale back on spreading our personal joy. Well, again, I disagree. I’m not insensitive, it’s just that being impoverished or out of work doesn’t automatically mean a person must go around looking down. In fact, some of the happiest and most positive people I’ve met live in poverty. They aren’t happy about their financial status of course, but they’ve realized that their financial status is only one part of their lives. There are many other facets of their lives which bring them joy. Why allow this one area to dominate who they are and how they view themselves? They choose happiness and positivity.

Yes, I’d rather be known as a fellow who wears a smile, stays positive and is good to be around than the opposite. Of course yes, one has to exercise some good judgement here too. When someone is talking about their bleak situation and out of politeness asks how I’m doing, I wouldn’t go over the top telling them about plans to have some big extravagant party to celebrate the season or how my investments were tripling my income. (They aren’t by the way; oh to be so lucky!)

No, I’d exercise some decorum; show some restraint in what to share, but I’d still have a smile on my face and tell them in answer to their question that I was just fine and thank them for asking.

The second argument I make for being positive, happy and merry is that it reminds people of what is possible when they may have forgotten. Don’t assume this is a given. Sometimes when we lose what we once had, we all need reminding of it’s value and in the case of happiness, merriment and positivity, they can all come again; for everyone.

When I’ve worked Christmas eve at work, those making the choice to drop in to our employment resource centre are typically either in for solace and sanctuary or to wish us the greetings of the season; a very merry Christmas. If they can do so, I certainly will wish them nothing but the same; that they too find merriment and happiness both then and the year ’round. Sometimes we’ve sat down not as clients and staff, but as people – (a rather significant distinction) and shared a drink, a bite or two and some laughs.

Being poor doesn’t mean one must by association be of any one mood. You’ll find sadness, regret, joy and happiness, neutrality and the entire gambit of emotions. Why? Why precisely because the opposite is true. Among the wealthy you won’t universally find decadence, happiness, positivity and an entire void of stress. It isn’t money that brings happiness; it’s within us to be what we choose to be – that which makes us feel as we choose.

I will continue to positive, be happy and be joyous. Don’t think me insensitive, don’t attempt to shame me into being anything I’m genuinely not. My smile is there for anyone that chooses to see it as an outward expression of my state of mind. I also find that a smile on one face tends to bring one out on another. The opposite is also true by the way..

So do I wish you a merry Christmas on this fourth of December? Do I hope you have the best day possible? Do I trust you find happiness this day and each other day? YES!

By the way, ever been served by someone in the course of conducting some business who is robotic? You know, they do their job but there’s no human emotion, no smile, no genuine appreciation for your business. Have you not thought to yourself, “It wouldn’t hurt you to smile a little?” Ah, you have? Then you understand entirely and you get it. Good for you.

Be that beacon of happiness, that one person who goes about their work with a smile and is genuinely appreciative of others. It will work wonders for your mental health.

Tomorrow I’m 60. Yahoo! Yippee!


Way back in 1959 on June 13th at 2:30 a.m., I entered this world, born into a middle class family in Etobicoke, Ontario – then a suburb of Toronto, Ontario in Canada. Tomorrow will mark a full 60 year anniversary of that event, and I’m obviously not hiding it.

I’ve yet to have one of, “those birthdays”. You know, the one that you absolutely live for such as when you can finally get your driver’s licence, drink alcohol or legally buy cigarettes. Nor have I yet to have the birthday that shatters your self-image, like dreading turning 30, hitting the big 4-0, or turning half a century old! To me, every birthday has been something to look forward to. This past year, it occurred to me that I could say I am 59 years old and born in 59. Well, tomorrow I can no longer make that claim – ever.

I don’t feel 60. Wait a minute; I don’t know what 60 is supposed to feel like, so I can’t say that. What I can say is that I don’t see turning 60 as a bad thing; and a bad thing is what I hear a lot of others say as they blow out all those candles with both a paid up insurance policy and fire extinguisher near at hand. I think I’ve always felt younger than the number itself suggests from a stereotyped point of view. I’ll see that as a good thing.

So it was funny to me yesterday when a colleague at work popped her head in to ask me a question about one of our co-workers who also shares June 13 as her own birthday. I volunteered in our conversation that I was in fact turning 60 and she immediately tilted her head slightly, looked sympathetic and said in a sweet voice that would give you a cavity just listening to her, “Oh! I’m sorry!” and she meant it too. She’s less than half my age at a guess.

My reaction was to laugh and say how I relished the opportunity to celebrate another birthday. After all, those who don’t want to celebrate their birthdays eventually get their wish…think about that one.

No seriously, I see a benefit to be had in turning 60. As an Employment Counsellor, a lot of people I partner with and support see their advancing years as a negative. I wish I had a buck for every man and woman who has said to me, “Well my age is a problem. I’m 46 and no offence but that’s old.” Well if 46 is old, I’m fossilized!

One of the things I’m grateful for (and there are many) is my general health at 60. I have an excellent record of attendance – missing less than 3 days a year for about 8 of the last 9 years. I’ve got drive, creativity, energy to burn throughout the work day and still feel totally invested in the people I work with. I love the role I’ve got at present and I know I make a difference which gives the work I do so much meaning.

I see turning 60 as a good thing for those older folks I come into contact with. Maybe I’m some kind of inspiration to some, perhaps they even view their age as a strength and an asset as I do after we spend some time together. You see by now, I’ve got this rich history of a life lived including work spanning Retail, Manufacturing, Social Services and Recreation sectors. I’ve experience as an entrepreneur, Executive Director, front-line and middle management employee. I’ve worked with two large municipalities and the Province of Ontario in unionized settings, plus worked in Not-For-Profit and private profit businesses. It takes time to accumulate all these experiences, and I draw on each and every one of them often in the course of my work. It’s this diversity of experience that helps me relate with people and be relatable to people.

I guess I don’t fit the idea of a worker slowing down, putting in time until retirement, coasting through the day, being a passenger more than a driver of change and innovation. Geez I must be annoying for some who’d like me to pull out a white flag and say, “I’m old and I feel my age is a problem too.” Well I don’t.

I have come to believe that what’s going in your head (what you believe and how you see yourself) is your biggest asset or liability when it comes to interacting with your world. See age as your problem and you’ll move, act and use words that affirm you see age as your problem. So the world will acknowledge how you feel and agree. Don’t be surprised then when others confirm it. On the other hand, see your years as an asset to be revered and proud of and you’ll move, act and use words that show gratitude and pride  and the world WILL acknowledge how you feel and agree.

It starts therefore in your head. If I see my age as a problem to be hid, I’ll get sympathy, pity and commiseration. I don’t want that! I want people to be happy for me, maybe even re-evaluate how they see aging; well a tad anyhow.

Having been diagnosed as having Type 2 Diabetes 3 years ago, there won’t be cake. Whatever! But presents? Oh yes, there should be presents! Yes, I’m still that little kid who loves presents. Best wishes will do as well; or donating to a charity. Now that’s cool.

60 is ‘gonna be great!

Regretting The Words Left Unspoken


Remember that special person you never told how you really felt? Of course you do because after all this time you just can’t get them out of your head for very long. You wish now you could go back and tell them how much they had an impact on you, how much you loved them perhaps, and you wonder if/how things might have worked out differently if you had.

It’s wondering, ‘what if’ that tantalizes; because it ignites possibilities of what might have happened had shared your thoughts openly. Ah, but you were scared, nervous and afraid of blurting something out you’d come to later regret. Ironically, after all these years, here you are now regretting the words you left unspoken.

It’s very much like that in other situations too; although the people we neglect to say what’s on our mind to aren’t just potential sweethearts. No, sometimes we find we lose job opportunities to others and later wish we had said a few more things at the job interview. This is often especially the case if we sincerely wanted a job bad. It would have been perfect and you have wanted a job like that in a long time, so when the news came that they went with someone else, it hit like a truck. If only you had said what you were feeling, things might have worked out differently.

Or perhaps there was someone you really valued in your past; that person who made a big impact on you. Perhaps it was their influence that set you on the path you later took or are taking now. A teacher, a father or mother, a mentor or some person who inspired you to think differently, perceive things in a new light. You never said how much you appreciated them and now their gone. Whether they passed on, moved away, have dementia and don’t recognize you, or you moved away yourself, the opportunity to tell them how you feel is lost.

Now the only thing worse would be finding yourself in this situation here in the present. You know, feeling so strongly about someone you see in the here and now daily, but feeling timid, awkward, embarrassed or anxious about sharing how you feel. You’re so worried about ruining things or spoiling your chances that you go on being around them in silence. You wonder, “What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I just open my mouth, pour out how I feel? Tell them?” Of course in your mind you worry about creating a wide divide, making things weird, learning that your feelings aren’t reciprocated and as long as you don’t do anything…you’ll at least have what you have now – which is something.

Opportunities to step up and voice your true feelings pop up every day; but not forever. Take your work environment. You really value the support of a co-worker; they’ve passed on knowledge to you, covered for you when you weren’t at your best, listened to you share your frustrations, applauded your accomplishments and even motivated you when you needed it. There they are beside you every day, and having a real heart-to-heart with genuine sincerity, telling them how much they mean to you sounds both the right thing to do but maybe the weird thing to do.

Really though, what’s so weird? How long have you worked together? All those years and the hours you’ve spent in each other’s company? Why should it be weird to shut the door and say, “Hey listen, I want to tell you how much you mean to me, and I’m being serious.” You’ll likely catch them off guard, and they might use humour to deflect their real feelings, but they’ll likely also be grateful. What they feel in any event is up to them. You’ll feel better knowing you expressed your feelings and took that chance instead of regretting saying nothing. Then they retire, take another job, move or have an unexpected long-term medical leave etc. and you lose touch; opportunity lost.

I mentioned the job interview earlier. How many times have you walked out of an interview and suddenly said in your mind, “Oh, why didn’t I just say _____?Should I walk back in? Should I follow-up with an email or phone call? I really want that job! I’d LOVE working there so why did I find it so hard to tell them how bad I really want it!

Sometimes its convention and decorum that gets in the way. It seems somehow inappropriate to tell someone how we really feel. On the other hand we also hear that employers want people who are passionate about the work they do. So when you do find something you’re passionate about; a job or company you’re sincerely excited to work for and will invest yourself with fully, why not just open your mouth and express that.

Just like that mentor, potential love interest, teacher, co-worker etc., you’ve got a limited window to risk expressing how you feel. They won’t stick around forever, and the time will never be any better than it is now – today. If you’ve waited for a sign, this is it.

Look, hearing someone tell you how much they appreciate your support, your love, your encouragement, the opportunity to work with them etc.; it’s all good. We need to get better at telling others just how much they mean to us. Few things are better.

 

Grieving At Christmas


Are you grieving at this time of year more than usual and feeling out of sorts as a result? You know, there’s merriment joy all around you whether it’s songs on the radio, Christmas cards that arrive in the post, the humourous social media posts that land on your homepage; and somehow you just don’t feel in sync with all that carefree joy all about you.

You find yourself on this pendulum swinging between moments when you get caught up in those happy moments yourself and then feel pangs of guilt as you recall the loss of someone special in your own life. Your laughter and broad smile disappear from your face replaced with stress lines on your forehead and a sombre look of remembrance. One moment you feel happy, then you’re sad, and then you’re guilty again about bringing everyone around you down in spirit. Oh if you could just get back to feeling, ‘normal’; the normal you used to feel in years past!

Welcome to your new normal. The emotions and feelings you’re experiencing are valid, very real and yours to deal with and process to the extent you are able. While normally in control in most areas of your life, it seems like you haven’t yet mastered this specific one; dealing with the loss of someone significant in your life. Try as you might, you haven’t found a way to – as they say – get over it; deal with it; move on.

The fact that Christmas brings along with it words of good cheer from everyone from family and best friends to work colleagues and strangers is well-meaning but only seems to punctuate the feeling that things aren’t usual. “Usual” means that for the other 11 months of the year people aren’t wishing you happy holidays or merry anything.

Think of that pendulum metaphor again. Your balance point looking back seemed to be when the one you’re grieving now was still around. When they departed, you experienced a shift where sorrow, longing and heartache have moved the pendulum. Then at Christmas we see, hear, smell, taste and feel the good; it’s families gathering around singing carols, over indulging in rich foods, their gifts, bright lights in the night, decorations and traditions deeply steeped in family history brought out and on exhibit 24/7 until Christmas is over. All of this swings the pendulum in the other extreme; where you’d normally be happy to go and make merry of your own accord.

But whatever side that pendulum is on at a given moment, you’re private thoughts can’t seem to be a peace with. You’re feeling guilty when privately grieving and feeling remorseful when you catch yourself humming a Christmas song in your head let alone out loud. So yes, you’re feeling out of sorts all the time. Why can’t everyone around you understand this and give you your own space so you can get the pendulum back to the center?

Of course to others, they see mood swings and may feel they are walking around on eggshells trying not to set you off. They want desperately to be of help and support; they worry don’t they? And you of course are wondering why they themselves are seemingly handling things much better than you are. Don’t they miss the departed? Don’t they care as much as you do?

Everybody experiences loss and everyone processes the feelings that go with loss in a very personal way. The thing is there is no set timeline for doing so. People who experience long grieving periods might worry those who don’t, and those that don’t worry those who do because they may come across as unfeeling, callous, cold and detached.

It’s healthy to accept that we all process loss and figure out how to move ahead on our own at our own pace. We know intellectually that death is inevitable where there is life; the day we get a puppy we know a day at some point will come when the pet will pass away. Does this make it easier? Maybe for some but not for all. And things get magnified for many when the loss isn’t a family pet but a family member such as a mother or father; daughter or son.

So here it comes…Time is the answer. How much time? Who is to say? You can no better predict how long you’ll take to deal with your personal loss than you could predict how long you’ll live yourself.

Now this grieving process of dealing with the loss of someone special is identical to the process of grieving over a family pet for some and yes grieving over the loss of employment. That may seem trivializing your loss of a family member but to some people, the shock, anger, denial, bargaining and eventual acceptance which makes up the grieving process is just as real when losing a job and shouldn’t be dismissed as not just as real.

Give yourself permission to have your moments of pain and don’t apologize for your tears of remembrance. These are your own very personal moments and your thoughts are not to be taken as a weakness of character. You should never expect nor hope I imagine to entirely forget the person gone, the pet gone or the job lost.

You will eventually get to where you will give yourself permission to be happy without feeling conflicted or guilty. Your good mental health will return. Do accept wishes for a merry Christmas as they are intended; with only the best of intentions.

Does Your Job Make Life Better?


What purpose does your work serve? I mean, does it improve the quality of your life? What about the lives of others? I put it out there that if your work is not making your life better, you should be looking for something else – and fast!

This idea of making your life better in some way isn’t new. Whether it was the Industrial Age, The Crusades, why even all the way back to the early days of human civilization, people have always engaged in work activities that improved their quality of life. Going to war to preserve their lifestyle or freedom, creating some invention that would improve on whatever people currently had – it all made their lives better.

Okay so let’s look at us; you and me. We’ve got this general pattern where we depend entirely on others early in life and then develop into young people with hopes and dreams, testing our independence until we fly the nest and start relying on ourselves. We  make our own choices, and with each choice there are consequences great or small. Every choice we make seemed like a good idea at the time, and we made those choices to make our lives better; for the moment or long-term.

So is this why we become unhappy if we realize that our daily jobs don’t bring us the satisfaction and some sense of pleasure? The job itself may not be a fun one, but we justify continuing with it if what we get out of it improves our lives in some other way. Hence the money factor. Take a job not many would willingly do for the work alone, and attaching money to it will at some point attract enough people to perform the work you want done. Offer too little and you won’t attract the skilled people to do the work and the quality of the work will suffer.

Some Career Coaches or Employment Counsellors will inevitably ask the people they work with, “What would make you happy?” You see we get it. If you could share with us the work, job or career (substitute your word of choice) that would make your life better, then we could help you define the steps required to take you from your present situation to the reality of having the dream job you want. With the attainment of the job, you’ll be happy; your life would be better. So goes the theory.

The problem for many is they can’t answer the question, “What’s your dream job?” They honestly don’t know. It’s for this reason many people feel conflicted, confused, anxiety and ultimately voice this in statements like, “What’s wrong with me? I should know by now!” or the classic, “Everybody’s telling me to just get a job but I don’t know what I want to do.” Figuring out the, ‘want’ is really trying to figure out what would make life better.

After all, if you and I are going to invest 7 or so hours a day in some activity 5 days a week, presumably that investment of time should make our lives better. If the job we take doesn’t make life better, why are we still doing the work? Ah but then maybe it’s how we define a better life that is the real crux of the matter. If we hate the actual work we do with a passion – the exact opposite of what an employer typically asks for, but the job provides us with money that we then use to pay for rent, food, possessions and our lives improve on our personal time, some of us can then justifiably state that the job we hate makes life better.

Not all of us feel this way however. Some believe that the work they do is such a big part of their waking lives that it had better not only pay well, but the work itself has to bring them joy. The job has to be one they’d find fulfilling. However while some get out and try job after job trying to find  the right fit to improve their lives, others don’t. The ones that don’t make a decision not to do any work at all until they are fairly certain the job will bring them happiness. Not having ever done the work, they use their imagination to visualize themselves in a job, and with this limited knowledge or perception of what they believe the job to be, they make a decision to work or not in that job; usually deciding not to.

Researching a job or a profession is good advice to give you data you may find helpful in making a better informed decision on whether the job will make you happy or improve your life. All the research in the world can’t tell you how you’ll really experience that job however until you plunge into it. There are many variables like the supervision style of the person you report to, the comings and goings of co-workers that will affect the atmosphere, culture, location, hours of work etc.

If life is the best it can be keep doing what you’re doing – job or no job. If life isn’t as good as it could be with the work you currently do, and presuming you want it to be better, get going; you’ve only got so much time to improve your life through your work.

What do you think people?

What If I Don’t Love My Job?


If you are a parent, one of the things you’ve probably done is tell your child or children that the one thing you want them to be in this life is happy. You may have even gone so far as to tell them that they can do and achieve anything in their lives if they put their mind to it. So in doing so, have you inadvertently set them up with unrealistic expectations?

This idea that every job should be immensely satisfying and if it’s not people should quit and move on is an interesting topic. To believe that every person on the planet should find great satisfaction in the job that they do has to work on the premise that because we are different, every single job is a dream job for somebody. If that’s the case, why are so many people performing jobs that if you asked them, they would tell you it’s in fact NOT their dream job, it’s, “just a job”?

I think the answer to this is in fact a myriad of reasons, rather than one simple one. When a person is young, they may be in a job they don’t love, because they are trying different lines of work to see what they do and don’t like. A more mature worker might be working a job they don’t love just to keep the money coming in to pay bills and support a desired lifestyle outside of work. And of course some people may not love a job, but lack the courage to do something about it and look for another job. I also believe you may know someone who is staying in a job they don’t find fulfilling anymore just because of the seniority, the accumulated vacation, the benefits etc.

What I find interesting is the apparent contradiction of advice that young people in particular are given with respect to work and happiness. On the one hand, they are told that the world is their oyster; they can do anything they put their mind to and because they are going to spend a huge chunk of their life working so they’d better be happy. On the flip side, they are also told that spending too much time looking for the perfect job is unrealistic and having a job of any kind is better than not having a job at all.

I personally think it’s good advice to tell a young person that focusing on finding the perfect fit the first time is highly unlikely, and that it is wise to try a number of jobs. Finding out first-hand what you can do, like and dislike is important. Every job – even the ones we don’t enjoy – is an opportunity to learn something of ourselves and provides us with an opportunity to gather information we can then use to look for work that is an ideal fit for us.

Truth is, I think there are many jobs that are a good fit for most people; not just a single job. In fact, if you are at all like me, you might find that you’re good at several things, exceptionally good at a few things, and probably not so good at other things. You might even find that while you can do some jobs very well, they just don’t provide the satisfaction you want over a long period of time, but in the short-term, are worth doing in order to get references, income, and experience.

Jobs provide us with experience more than anything. As a worker in your 40’s for example, you can probably look back, think about your first couple of jobs after high school, and what you’ll remember first is the satisfaction of the work, how you liked it or not, but how much you actually made in wages isn’t so easy to recall. And that’s a key point; it’s not about money really, it’s about what we DID and how we FELT. Those early jobs gave us clues about what to look for or avoid in future jobs. If we worked in a factory setting as a teenager, we may have learned we hated the hot temperature and the drudgery of doing the same thing over an over. But we just as easily might have loved the routine of doing the same thing again and again, and found consistently performing repetitive tasks a good thing where we were sure what was expected of us.

Look at your work life this way for a second: you’ll be work from about 20 years old to 65 years old – give or take a few years at either end. So for 45 years, you’ll be working and it’s extremely unlikely all those years will be spent doing a single job. 45 years of a person’s life is a long time, and therefore let go of the unrealistic expectations that you must get it right immediately and find the entire 45 years immensely satisfying. Spend some of those years trying different jobs, switch careers, stretch yourself a little, push yourself to acquire different skills. Why? Because you’ll become diversified, multi-talented, gain a broader perspective, see the world in general and the world of work in particular through different eyes.

Happiness means different things to different people. For some, work provides money to live a life outside of work that is fulfilling. To others, work itself must bring happiness itself. We’re all different with differing needs.

Finding Small Things Throughout A Day That Make You Smile


Hey listen it doesn’t matter whether you are out of work, looking for work, working like a dog, or just coasting along nicely in your career; every now and then you’re going to have those times when things are rushed or when you’ll feel under pressure. If enough of those moments are not interrupted with moments of joy and pleasure, you’ll end up at some point feeling tense, intense and perhaps unhappy.

So how to counter the preceding and make your daily life more enjoyable? Well it may be as simple as looking micro instead of macro. Okay so in practice, if you only have major long-term goals, then your reward and the happiness it will bring is delayed. You will go day after day keeping your eyes and energy focused on some two or three-year plan such as finishing a degree, or landing that major promotion. But thinking micro is good at the same time.

So what do I mean by micro? Well it’s about having a series of very small things to look forward throughout your day. If you can connect many of these things together, at the end of the day you may find yourself feeling immensely pleased and satisfied even though no major goal was reached. What may have happened however along the way is that you were more productive overall, attracted positive people to you, found enjoyment in activities that previously were mundane, and got along better with your co-workers.

Examples? Sure. Pack along a CD or MP3 full of your favourite tunes, and you’re walking or driving with a smile on your face and maybe singing along releasing all kinds of physical chemicals that reduce your stress. Even getting into a clean car because you washed it on the way home the night before, gives you something to look forward to when you enter the garage instead of that dirty, mud-caked beast you were driving two days ago. Do you enjoy taking a shower and look forward to the hot steamy water pulsating on your upper or lower back? Something very small but invigorating to look forward to as you start your day.

Along your drive or commute, pick a development or favourite landmark or building. Check it out daily and watch it grow or change throughout the seasons. If you have a rural commute, watch the fields of a farmer and see how it’s tilled, planted, grows, matures and is harvested. Look forward to a sunrise and watch that orange orb ascend into a glorious morning sky. At work, look forward to greeting that Secretary or Support staff and tell them how much you appreciate all they do for you. Not only will you make them feel appreciated, but your mood will be enhanced to. Find things to laugh about, share a story you heard on radio that made you laugh with a co-worker.

And if you are unfortunate enough to be out of work, it doesn’t mean you cannot find small things along your day to take enjoyment in. As you are passing by a florist to drop off some resumes, pause a moment and go in and just smell some flowers. The bright colours in a dreary winter may please you. Kids have a natural charm about them when they are toddlers, find one on a bus, smile and wave or play peek-a-boo. It can distract you nicely on the way to your job interview and get you in a smiling frame of mind. And if you’ve prepped for the interview, relax and enjoy that moment.

Sure look forward to quitting time at work, but not because you get to run away from work, but rather because you get to go TO your home. Look forward to a television show, going to a movie, a dinner date, a trip to a museum or art showing. Even in the middle of a boring meeting at work, if you momentarily think of something to look forward to that same evening, you might just find something to smile about and it could show on your face; and lucky for you it might be interpreted as, “good to see so-and-so is engaged in this meeting!”

Stringing together a series of small individual moments and thoughts that bring you pleasure and are things to look forward to won’t get you that next job, or mean you get that big promotion. Let’s be realistic here. However, this very easy to do strategy can and does make your day more enjoyable, brings you more happiness than not, and relieves what otherwise might be a very long period of uninterrupted stress. What makes you happy and brings you cause to smile might be different from the next person. Nobody knows you better than yourself and therefore the things that bring you the most happiness are well within your control to bring into your daily existence. In other words, in a job search where you might feel such a profound lack of control, you can start on a micro level to take charge and bring into your daily experience small things to find joy and happiness in.

May you find happiness in many ways this day.

Is There Any Fun In Your Work?


There are some jobs in this world that I have a hard time imagining have “fun” anywhere in the job description. Luckily for me and I suspect for most of us, we are able to either find some fun enjoyable aspects to our work, or perhaps we have the luxury of creating some fun with our co-workers, Supervisors and customers/clients.

Does anyone else find it interesting that many employers will stress co-operation, teamwork and providing exceptional customer service, but yet there isn’t a line anywhere about just plain fun? Oh sure there are training opportunities which sometimes include ice-breakers and stress relievers, and yes there are some potlucks to celebrate someone’s retirement or departure, but I wonder why that word, “FUN” isn’t spoke of very much.

Imagine you’re reading a resume and on it the person wrote, “Great team player who excels at creating fun in the workplace.” I wonder how far that would get in many HR departments. Ironically, that individual might just be a tremendous asset to an organization if in fact employees viewed their workplace as fun places to be and the ‘work’ was indeed a fun experience. Do the two need to be opposites?

Now sure there is the extreme where there’s an office clown who is always good for a laugh but hardly gets any actual work accomplished. I’m not referring to that person. What about the inclusion of someone who is positive, upbeat, enjoys the work they do, who attracts people to work with them because of their enthusiasm and actually does get a great deal of work accomplished? Now that’s a guy or woman I want to work with. Then again, why can’t I be that guy?

I suppose for some, you have to consider a question first. Do you believe that you have the ability to decide on an image you want to create, and then act that way until it becomes second nature, or do you think that you are who you are and you’ll always be who you are and anything else is disingenuous? If you really think that you don’t have the ability or power to alter your behaviour, and through doing this, change others perceptions of you, and crafting a change of image is not possible, I invite you to ponder at least the possibility.

Finding fun in your work is a wonderful thing if only because so much of our waking life is going to be spent working. I know personally I have always wanted to surround myself with others who are positive people, energizers who I can trust to receive my energy and feed it back to me as well. Like most things, finding moderation is the key. Being serious about getting results but achieving them by introducing fun ways to learn an experience works for me personally.

For example if I’m conducting a workshop, I’ll facilitate it in a fun way. When I’m scheduled to speak with a group about interviewing skills, I know I’m going to speak at some point about making a good first impression, and I’m never going to get a second chance to actually make a first impression on the group once I’ve met them for the first time. Often I’ll walk in and use a British or Scottish accent for the first 10 minutes, and ask the class to write down 3 things they know for certain about me and 3 things they think they know about me. When we are taking it up, and they are sharing their responses, I slide out of the accent and back to my normal speech. What an impact! They laugh, they are surprised and the energy goes up. “What are we in for with this guy” they wonder, and I’ve got their attention anticipating what might come next.

I’m willing to bet that with all the professionals out there, there are all kinds of creative examples where fun is introduced and happens in the workplace. If you’re not finding your workplace all that fun, ask yourself why. If you want to introduce it, do so in such a way that fun is not at someone’s expense unless it’s your own. Good-hearted fun, smiles, laughs, and stress-reducers are all very valuable tools in the toolbox.

So, is there any fun in your work?