Happiness In The Workplace: How do I get it

We all pursue happiness in our lives: looking for our soulmates and love, building families, traveling and learning new hobbies, etc. But what about our job? We invest so much time of our adult lives at our jobs, that I am curious – how many of us actually put our job in the happiness formula?

In my 12 years of working in hiring and talent management I’ve heard different versions of why people did search for a job or valued the one they already had: source of income; having an opportunity to constantly learn and develop, both personally and professionally; working with great people; create a value to the world; etc.

While all of these things are for sure important, I never heard something like: “I value this job, because it makes me happy”. “Happiness” doesn’t seem to be something even closely attributed to the workplace or a job. And I think it is not fair – what a sad life we are putting us through if we only expect to be happy outside our offices and not expecting to get a piece of happiness from the job we are doing.

PP Formula

Happiness is a very complicated topic. We tend to feel when we have it and we definitely know, when we are missing it in our lives. And then even when we seem to know what exactly we are missing and get it through hard work, birthday wishes and praying, we might still be frustrated after getting what we wanted.

I always believed that happiness is not a point of time or an event that happens once. It is a constant state of being. But I never had the right answer to explain how do we measure it, how do we know we are happy and how do we get there.

Then once, I was so lucky to pick the right book in the bookstore. Paul Dolan, the author, did an amazing exploration and research on what makes people happy and wrote a book – “Happiness by Design”. Years of research had led Paul to a conclusion – there is a simple formula for Happiness:

P * P = Happiness 

Pleasure and Purpose, says Paul, are the two main factors, which, in combination, create magic for us. When we get pleasure in what we do and have a strong sense of purpose, close to our values, we feel most happy!

How do I use the formula

There is a small exercise, which I do once in a while to get a reality check of how each part of my life contributes to my overall happiness. Let’s imagine I have 5 main areas of my life:

  3. 👨‍👩‍👧‍👧 FAMILY & FRIENDS
  4. 👩🏻‍💻 WORK & CAREER

Then I ask myself just several questions to make sure each of the areas are fulfilled with happiness by the PxP formula:

  • Do I enjoy what I do? Do I actually get a pleasure in: working on that project at work, how I spend time with my friends and family, learning the content of a course I am taking, that weekend date, etc).
  • What is the purpose? (again, related to each area) Does this purpose contribute to my values? When the purpose is fulfilled, will it make my life or the life of other people better?

Right after I thought on all the questions, I update my Happiness Scores (the scores in the table are not my actual scores, this is an example):

Area of LifePleasurePurposePxP Score
Love & Relationships0.801.000.80
Health & Emotional Harmony0.600.900.54
Family & Friends1.000.900.90
Work & Career0.801.000.80
Personal Growth0.901.000.90
Happiness Scores

Of course, you cant “crack the happiness” only by calculations. That’s why not everything is that easy – you can’t say you are 90% happy. You are either happy or not. But calculating the scores this way helps me keeping a track of things, reflect on which area needs my attention at his point in either finding ways to get more satisfaction in what I do or think of the purpose.

How can we use this in the workplace

This formula helped me a lot to challenge myself when I needed it the most. And now, when I look back to me leaving my previous employers, I can say more clear that the reason was always related to me stoping getting the pleasure in what I did and loosing the purpose. If you think about all the “famous” reasons for people to leave the job, you will see they are related to either pleasure or purpose:

  • 😒 I don’t get enough pay = I have a purpose to buy a house and this pay doesn’t get me there
  • 😒 My job became too routine, I stopped growing professionally = I don’t get the pleasure anymore of doing what I do
  • 😒 I got another, very interesting offer = the other job will make me closer to me fulfilling my purpose (whether it’s about having a flexible schedule to spend this time with my kids or a bigger salary, which helps me collect money for that car I want)

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t offer you the formula as a way to justify why you need to leave the job you are doing now. I just wan’t to show you how strongly the formula is related to how we assess our satisfaction from our job.

I am also a big believer of change. When we know exactly what we want, it is easier to negotiate those things. Let’s see how your “game plan” can look like with regards to where you are now on the PxP scale.

Pleasure x Purpose Matrix

Quadrant 1: Pleasure x Purpose = 100%

⭐️ You are in a great place! Maybe you could help others finding their purpose or the right roles and projects, where they can shine.

Quadrant 2: Pleasure x low Purpose

  • ✨ Try to list your major goals for the next years. Does your current job helps you getting closer to your own goals?
  • ✨ Think of your personal goals and values. How would you like your job to help you being fulfilled?
  • ✨ Think of the business goals of your company / project. Do they inspire you? Are they in tune with your values and goals?
  • 💥 Discuss your thoughts with your manager. Apply to an open dialogue and be honest.  

Quadrant 3: low Pleasure x Purpose

  • ✨ Try to reflect on which activities you don’t completely enjoy. Now imagine if you had all the skills needed for it, would you still not enjoy doing this? If the answer is “yes”, then try to negotiate changing the project or role. If the answer is “no” – then ask for additional training or help. Maybe you just don’t feel enough confident at this very time, because you are on your way in becoming a pro.
  • ✨ Imagine that tomorrow you can change anything, what job / project you will choose? What is that you will be enjoying in it? Is there a way you can incorporate these activities in your current job? 
  • 💥 Discuss your thoughts with your manager. Apply to an open dialogue and be honest.  

Quadrant 4: low Pleasure x low Purpose = no happiness

  • ✨ If you feel you are  here,  ask for an open discussion with your manager or mentor.  Tell them how you feel about your current role or project. 
  • ✨ Maybe not everything can be changed right away, but one thing at a time. I hope you can find the tasks you enjoy and the purpose that drives you!
  • ✨ Sometime also we find ourselves in  the workplaces, which don’t have the capacity to give us what we need. That’s when we move forward.
  • 💥 Discuss your thoughts with your manager. Apply to an open dialogue and be honest.  

I believe that everyone deserves to be happy! But I also believe that we only can get there, when we know what we want and can build that picture for us though being true to ourselves and others.

Create your own happiness! 🌿 And let both of the “Ps” be with you! 💚

P.S. If you are managing people, next week I will share a “game plan” for you on how to create a happy environment for your team!

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