Saturday, June 05, 2010

Book Club: Aim Higher - Happiness Through Work

This month we are reviewing The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin in the Lessons of Love Virtual Book Club. Today's topic is Chapter 3: Aim Higher.

In this third chapter of The Happiness Project, Gretchen explores the happiness and fullfilment we get from our work. She starts out by telling us that happier people do better at work. They also make better leaders. "They're viewed as more assertive and self-confident than less happy people. They're perceived to be more friendly, warmer, and even more physically attractive."

One thing I always wonder when I read things like this is whether we do better at work because we're happy or if we're happy because we're doing well at work. Like many things in the "self-help" arena, this seems to be one of those things like "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer." If you are friendly, warm, attractive, smart, and have a good job, you are probably going to do well at work, and you are probably going to be happy. But what about if you lose a job you love? Can you still be happy?

I happen to have experienced that last summer. I lost my management job at Sun Microsystems when Oracle purchased Sun. I really loved my job. I loved the people I worked with. I had everything that I ever wanted... a great salary, flexibility, a short commute, challenge. It was a perfect job. But I had survived several layoffs and I knew that when my time came, I'd accept it and move forward.

Scott McNealy, the former CEO at Sun, once said something like, "It's easy to be happy when things are going well. It takes someone special to be happy when things are going badly." I always remember that, and look at challenging times as an opportunity to really show what we're made of. Can we overcome the hardships and keep plugging along? Can we continue to maintain a positive attitude, even when the chips are down?

Gretchen talked about blogging in this chapter, and that's one of the things that boosted my spirits during my unemployment and what ultimately got me a new job. It was thanks to my blogging about QA Management that I got a job as a Site Editor, a Technical Website at Tech Target. I agree with Gretchen that we need to continue to challenge ourselves and keep growing. I had plenty of disappointments as I was job-searching, but it was important to stay motivated. As long as I was blogging, I was learning, growing, and meeting new people. That gave me the knowledge, skills, and confidence I needed to get the new job.

What challenges do you have in your work? What parts of your job bring you happiness?

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