Advertising
Advertising

Happiness: My Quest for it

Happiness: My Quest for it

“When I was young, I admired old people.
Now that I’m old, I admire wise people.
When I was a youth, I admired strong people.
Now that I’m old, I admire meek people.
When I was an adult, I admired wealthy people.
Now that I’m old, I admire happy people.”
  ~Matshona Dhliwayo

Since the beginning of time, humans across the globe have been pursuing singular goals: first it was sex, then it was money, now it is happiness. From the executive on Wall Street, to the sheepherder on the rural plains of Kenya, to the stay-at-home mother in China, all of us have been driven by the ceaseless desire to be happy.

Advertising

What we eat, wear, and do are all expressions of our pursuit of happiness. So are the books we buy, the shows we watch, and the relationships we pursue. But, if humanity has searched for it since the beginning, how come happiness has been elusive? Should we not have found it? After all, we have gone to the moon, cured fatal diseases, and made countless discoveries in every field you can think of. Knowledge undeniably has increased, but the reality is that happiness has not.

This inspired my long, uncertain journey to find out the secrets to happiness. Day after day, month after month, I sat before scientists, saints, and sages – intellectual and spiritual heavyweights, ancient and contemporary.

Advertising

Scientists said pleasure was the key, sages said relationships, while saints said work and a few said self-denial. While I found truth in many of their points, after much contemplation, I remembered the story of King Solomon, who according to the Bible was the wisest and richest man in history. He had all of the above, but he despaired in the end: “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” His pursuit of happiness ended miserably, as he was focused on his mind and body but at times forgot to nurture his soul. I came to the conclusion that, as humans being composed of mind, body, and soul, we must nurture all three to achieve our highest happiness.

Mind – You cannot live a happy life with sad thoughts. Timeless wisdom states that we become what we think. It therefore goes without saying that happy thoughts contribute to creating a happy life.

Advertising

Body – Research has shown that the brain produces serotonin, a chemical contributing to our happiness and wellbeing. When we exercise, our bodies also produce endorphins, chemicals that reduce stress and diminish our perception of pain. Clearly, when we take good care of our bodies, our bodies take good care of us.

Soul – Researchers have been dumbfounded after finding that there is a relationship between healing and having a higher power. Duke University’s Harold G. Koenig, M.D, said: “Studies have shown prayer can prevent people from getting sick – and when they do get sick, prayer can help them get better faster.”  The soul is the highest part of us, and if it’s nurtured, everything else – happiness, fulfillment and lasting joy – falls into place.

Advertising

To help you on your happiness journey, below are ten insights I conjured up. Enjoy!

  1. What you seek for others you find for yourself.
  2. A heart full of joy is better than a hand full of coins.
  3. Pebbles that bring you joy are better than diamonds that bring you sorrow.
  4. When bad things happen to you, become wiser, not bitter.
  5. The beauty that is in you is greater than the ugliness that is around you.
  6. If you go to bed angry, you have robbed yourself of a chance to wake up happy.
  7. Letting go of sorrow gives you enough strength to carry happiness.
    Letting go of anger gives you enough strength to carry kindness.
    Letting go of fear gives you enough strength to carry hopefulness.
    Letting go of resentment gives you enough strength to carry gratefulness.
    Letting go of disappointment gives you enough strength to carry joyfulness.
    Letting go of avarice gives you enough strength to carry contentedness.
  8. Love subtracts sorrow, divides trouble, adds blessings, and multiplies joy.
  9. Happiness cannot be bought by money, cannot be acquired by degrees, cannot be realized by power, and cannot be earned by honor; but it can be won by kindness, gained by charity, attained by goodness, and achieved by love.
  10. Pleasure will make you happy for days. Wealth will make you happy for weeks. Honor will make you happy for years. Love will make you happy for a lifetime.

More by this author

Happiness: My Quest for it

Trending in Work

1 5 Signs You Work in a Toxic Environment (And What To Do) 2 Why You Have the Fear of Failure (And How to Overcome It) 3 How to Write a Letter of Recommendation (With Templates) 4 How to Mind Map to Visualize Ideas (With Mind Map Examples) 5 How to Write a Mission Statement That Empowers Your Employees

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Published on November 12, 2020

5 Signs You Work in a Toxic Environment (And What To Do)

5 Signs You Work in a Toxic Environment (And What To Do)

What’s the most draining, miserable job you’ve ever had? Maybe you had a supervisor with unrealistic demands about your work output and schedule. Or perhaps, you worked under a bullying boss who frequently lost his temper with you and your colleagues, creating a toxic work environment.

Chances are, though, your terrible job experience was more all-encompassing than a negative experience with just one person. That’s because, in general, toxicity at work breeds an entire culture. Research shows abusive behavior by leaders can and often quickly spread through an entire organization.[1]

Unfortunately, working in a toxic environment doesn’t just make it miserable to show up to the office (or a Zoom meeting). This type of culture can have lasting negative effects, taking a toll on mental and physical health and even affecting workers’ personal lives and relationships.[2]

While it’s often all-encompassing, toxic culture isn’t always as blatant or clear-cut as abuse. Some of the evidence is more subtle—but it still warrants concern and action.

Have a feeling that your workplace is a toxic environment? Here are 5 surefire signs to look for.

1. People Often Say (or Imply) “That’s Not My Job”

When I first launched my company, I had a very small team. And back then, we all wore a lot of hats, simply because we had to. My colleagues and I worked tirelessly together to build, troubleshoot, and market our product, and nobody complained (at least most of the time).

Advertising

Because we were all in it together, with the same shared vision in mind, cooperation mattered so much more than job titles. Unfortunately, it’s not always that way.

In some workplaces, people adhere to their job descriptions to a fault:

  • Need help with an accounting problem? Sorry, that’s not my job.
  • Oh, you spilled your coffee in the break room? Too bad, I’m working.
  • Can’t figure out the new software? Ask IT.

While everyone has their own skillset—and time is often at a premium—cooperation is important in any workplace. An “it’s not my job” attitude is a sign of a toxic environment because it’s inherently selfish. It implies “I only care about me and what I have to get done” and that people aren’t concerned about the collective good or overall vision.[3] That type of perspective is not only bound to drain individual relationships; it also drains overall morale and productivity.

2. There’s a Lack of Diversity

Diversity is a vital part of a healthy work environment. We need the opinions and ideas of people who don’t see the world like us to move ahead. So, when leaders don’t prioritize diversity—or worse, they actively avoid it—I’m always suspicious about their character and values.

Limiting your workforce to one type of person is bound to prevent organizations from growing healthily. But even if your work environment is diverse in general, the management might prevent diverse individuals from rising to leadership positions, which only misses the point of having a diverse work environment in the first place.

Look around you. Who’s in leadership at your company? Who gets promotions and rewards most often? If the same type of people gets ahead while other individuals consistently get left behind, you might be working in a toxic environment.

Advertising

However it manifests in your workplace, keep in mind that a lack of diversity is a tell-tale sign that “bias is rampant and the wrong things are valued.”[4]

3. Feedback Isn’t Allowed

Just as individual growth hinges on being open to criticism, an organization’s well-being depends on workers’ ability to air their concerns and ideas. If management actively stifles feedback from employees, you’re probably working in a toxic environment.

But that definitely doesn’t mean nobody will air their feelings. One of the telltale signs of toxic leadership is when employees vent on the sidelines, out of management’s earshot. When I worked in a toxic environment, coworkers would often complain about higher-ups and company policies during work in private chats or after work hours.

It’s normal to get frustrated at work. That’s just a part of having a job. What isn’t normal is when dissent isn’t a part of or discouraged in the workplace. A workplace culture that suppresses constructive feedback will not be successful in the long run. It’s a sign that leadership isn’t open to new ideas, and that they’re more concerned about their own well-being than the health of the organization as a whole.

4. Quantifiable Measures Take Priority

Sales numbers, timelines, bottom lines—these metrics are, of course, important signs of how things are going in any business. But great leaders know that true success isn’t always measurable or quantifiable. More meaningful factors like workplace satisfaction, teamwork, and personal growth all contribute to and sustain these metrics.

Numbers don’t always tell the whole story, and they shouldn’t be the only concern. Measure-taking should always take a backseat to meaning-making—working together to contribute to a vision that improves people’s lives. If your workplace zones in on quantifiable measures of success, it’s probably not prioritizing what truly matters. And it’s probably also instilling a fear of failure among employees, which paralyzes employees instead of motivating them.

Advertising

5. The Policies and Rules Are Inconsistent

Every organization has its own set of unique policies and procedures. But often, unhealthy workplaces have inconsistent, unspoken “rules” that apply differently to different people. When one person gets in trouble for the same type of behavior that promotes another person, workers will feel like management plays favorites—which isn’t just unethical but also a quick way to drain morale and fuel tension in the office.[5] It only shows how incompetent the leadership is and indicates a toxic workplace.

For example, maybe there’s no “set” rule about work hours, but your manager expects certain people or departments to show up at 8 am while other individuals tend to roll in at 9 or 10 am with no real consequences. If that’s the case, then it’s likely that your organization’s leadership is more concerned with controlling people and exerting power rather than the overall good of their employees.

How to Deal With a Toxic Work Environment

The first thing to know if you’re stuck in a toxic work environment is that you’re not stuck. While it’s ultimately the company’s responsibility to make positive changes that prevent harmful actions to employees, you also have an opportunity to speak up about your concerns—or, if necessary, depart the role altogether.

If you suspect that you’re working in a toxic environment, think about how you can advocate for yourself. Start by raising your grievances about the culture in an appropriate setting, like a scheduled, one-on-one meeting with your supervisor.

Can’t imagine sitting down with your supervisor to air those problems on your own? Form some solidarity with like-minded colleagues. Approaching management might feel less overwhelming when you have a “team” who shares your views.

It doesn’t have to be an overtly confrontational discussion. Do your best to frame your concerns in a positive way by sharing with your supervisor that you want to be more productive at work, but certain problems sometimes get in the way.

Advertising

Final Thoughts

If your supervisor truly cares about the well-being of the organization, they will take your concerns seriously and actively take part in changing the toxic work environment into something more conducive to productivity.

If not, then it might be time to consider the cost of the job on your well-being and personal life. Is it worth staying just for your resume’s sake? Or could you consider a “bridge” job that allows you to exhale for a bit, even if it doesn’t “move you ahead” the way you planned?

It might not be the ideal situation, but your mental health and well-being are too important to ignore. And when you have the opportunity to refuel, you’ll be a far more valuable asset at whatever amazing job you land next.

More Tips on Dealing With a Toxic Work Environment

Featured photo credit: Campaign Creators via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next