Take the work happiness test

sign take the test

The average person spends 2,000 hours per year at work. Based on that staggering figure, it stands to reason that being happy at work is key to our overall happiness.

According to Harvard Business Review, there are three main things that contribute to happiness at work:

  1. Feeling like you are making a difference
  2. How hopeful you are about the future and the link between your work and your goals and aspirations
  3. Having positive work relationships

In Love in the Workplace, I shared the findings of one leadership expert, Mark Crowley who found a monumental shift in the drivers of happiness from time with family and hobbies to time at work. Crowley concluded “how satisfied workers feel in their jobs now determines their overall happiness with life. This monumental shift means that job fulfillment has become essential to people everywhere.”

HBR has a 24-question test you can take to measure your happiness at work. It gives you a summary report and tips on how to use your strengths and find happiness. It also shows your responses and happiness/satisfaction levels in comparison to other HBR readers who take the test.

I took it again this week. Like employee engagement scores, I find results for these kinds of tests can swing depending on your current state of mind. I scored Medium on Purpose and Hope and High on Friendship at Work. The test reinforced for me what I need to do to stay engaged at work and gave me helpful advice for making work a positive experience.

This week’s #HappyAct is to take the test to see how happy you are at work. How did you do? Leave a comment.

For more on happiness at work, read

How to be happier at work

Develop your emotional intelligence

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Have a Happy Do Over Day

I watched a movie about time travel last week called About Time, a charming British indie film that was warm, thought-provoking, and witty.

In the movie, the father and son have a special gift: the ability to travel to places and times they have been before.

There is a critical scene in the movie, where the father tells the son the secret to happiness is to live each day twice: the first time normally with all the tensions and worries of every day life, and the second time doing the exact same things but noticing how sweet life is.

The film shows an ordinary day for the son. His morning is stressful, juggling making breakfast and lunches for his children, then fighting the morning commute downtown to his job as a lawyer, and endless meetings that seem pointless and bring little joy into his life.

The next scene is the son living the same day over. This time, he sees how beautiful his children are, and cherishes the precious moments with them over the breakfast table. On his morning commute, he looks out the window at the sunshine and marvels at the gift of another day. He sees the humour in the office shenanigans and celebrates success in court.

This week’s #HappyAct is to pretend we are time travellers. Choose an ordinary day this week, and relive it doing the exact same things you do every day, but this time, noticing how sweet life is. I’m going to try it and see what happens. Leave a comment and share your experience.

Timing is everything

Time's Up poster

There is a new book on my reading list for 2018: best-selling author Daniel Pink’s When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing.

Pink’s book focuses on the science of timing to help us make smart decisions in our lives.

Our lives are a never-ending stream of “when” decisions. There are little “when” decisions: when is the best time to study for an exam, when are you most productive at work. And there are the big “when” decisions: when to start a business, start a family or change careers.

Both the Wall Street Journal and Toronto Star have written articles on Pink’s new book. The article in The Star focused on New Year’s resolutions and why “fresh starts” like at the beginning of the year, really work.

To establish a fresh start, people use two types of “temporal landmarks”— social and personal. Social landmarks are those that everyone shares Mondays, the beginning of a new month, national holidays. The personal ones are unique to each person: birthdays, anniversaries, job changes.

These time markers allow us to clear the slate on the past and help us see beyond the minutiae of day to day living to see “the forest beyond the trees” for a fresh start.

I am hopeful that 2018 is a fresh start for all of us and that #TimesUp.

You don’t have to tell Tarana Burke timing is everything.

The founder of the #MeToo movement has been quietly, tenaciously, devoting her life for ten years promoting empowerment through empathy, raising awareness of inequality and sexual harassment against women.

But it wasn’t until actress Alyssa Milano urged women this past fall on social media to speak up using the hashtag #MeToo that we were able to crest the tipping point to create a wave of support and change the dialogue and power imbalance between men and women on sexual harassment.

The wave became a tidal wave this January with the creation of #TimesUp, a legal organization formed to pay for and provide legal support for victims of sexual assault and the platform and voices of powerful women like Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon.

Yes, timing is everything.

I am hopeful it is finally our time—time for women to be truly viewed and treated as equals.

I am hopeful that every organization will look within its own walls with a microscopic lens and make changes to ensure equal pay for equal work, and equal representation of women on boards and in the C-suite.

That every government implements policies to ensure women are protected, can receive an education, and can live freely without fear of retribution or harm.

That every father and grandfather teaches their sons and grandsons to treat women as we deserve.

And that some day soon, every woman will feel finally, it is our time.

52 Walks in 52 Weeks

Author in front of her office ready to walkThis year, my New Year’s resolution is to take 52 walks in 52 weeks in 2018.

Let me explain.

I have many friends at work, but work is so busy, I often don’t have time to catch up with them. Occasionally, we meet for lunch, but this eats up our lunch hour and budget and adds unwanted pounds.

So here is my plan. Every week this year, I am going to invite one co-worker to walk with me for half an hour one day a week at lunch. It may be a good friend, someone I’ve met I want to get to know better, or maybe even a complete stranger.

My goals are to get in shape, save money, and stay connected with my co-workers and what’s happening in the company, which will benefit my job.

What’s your New Year’s resolution? Leave a comment. Don’t miss next week’s post on the secret to being successful at keeping resolutions.

Top 10 Happy Acts of 2017

Happy New Year, from our family to yours

Got the post-holiday blues? Tired of winter already? Why not brighten your day by revisiting some of the best happy acts from 2017.

To inspire you in 2018

  1. Be a child genius: see what Aldous Huxley and Ron Howard have in common
  2. Always see with your heart: a tribute to a very special dog
  3. Swimming in a fish bowl: My eyes filled with tears reading this post again.

Happiness at work

  1. The rise of incivility in the workplace: fight stress and the impulse to snap back when the pressure is on at work
  2. How to be happier at work: learn three simple things you can do to up your happiness quotient in the workplace

Life on the home front

  1. Eight tips for achieving family life balance: struggling to keep up with your to do list at home? Read this post or watch Bad Moms Christmas.
  2. The most important decision you’ll ever make: a must read if you have kids.
  3. Make friends with fearsome creatures: I was surprised at the vociferous reaction to this post on snakes.

Just for giggles

9. What if your best friend was a robot? 2018 may be the year machines take over the world. We might as well make friends with them.

10. Check out my top predictions for 2017—hey at least I got one call right—my dogs did manage to get off the couch once this year before 11 a.m.

Happy New Year everyone! Here’s to more happy acts and the world being a happier place in 2018.

Play hookey from work

Friends at the Kingston sign

It was our Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

For 10 years, my BFF at work, Elaine Peterson and I had talked about going for a patio lunch and not going back to work. We finally did it on Friday.

Now before you HR types get all bent out of shape, we did this with the full knowledge and approval of our bosses, and booked it as vacation time. Whatever points we lost on the spontaneity factor were more than made up for the excitement of looking forward to our afternoon of hookey.

Our first stop was Confederation Basin to put the “I” in Kingston. Earlier this summer, Kingston erected a new sign where tourists can take their picture. There may be no “I” in team, but there is an “I” in Kingston.

Then we headed up Brock Street to Atomica for a leisurely patio lunch. If you’re not familiar with the Black Dog Hospitality Group of restaurants in Kingston, which includes Dianne’s Fish Bar, Le Chien Noir, Harper’s Burgers and Atomica, they are a favourite of the locals.

We split a yummy caeser salad; Elaine had one of their signature pastas, and I had their Retro pizza. The best part about not being “on the clock” is you can relax and just take in your surroundings (a couple of drinks each helped too.)

For instance, as I was sitting on the patio, I noticed a statue of a beaver on top of the building across the street. I’ve probably walked past that building a gazillion times and never noticed that beaver before. We also watched a young couple next to us get googlyeyed and the guy at the end of the patio shovel his food in with his fork like it was a backhoe.

beaver statue

Two hours and two drinks later, we decided to wander down to Ahoy Rentals to go canayaking (a new term I made up after a couple of beers). We got sidetracked at Battery Park by the breakwater. I was telling Elaine how as a kid I would jump from rock to rock on the breakwater in Port Credit where I grew up, but how they put a fence up so people couldn’t go out on the rocks anymore.

In Kingston, there’s just a sign warning people to proceed at their own risk, so we proceeded. At the end near the lighthouse, we could see Elaine’s office. We texted her co-workers to look out the window to see us waving, but they were too busy working (hah!) We talked to a retired RMC professor who kayaked past us and waved to the boaters.

Woman at lighthouse

Since it was already four o’clock and we were thirsty again, we decided to pass on the kanayaking and headed up Princess Street to Barcadia, a bar with old arcade games. Elaine had brought some rolls of quarters, so we raced sports cars through the streets of Paris and Moscow, played baseball (I was the home run queen and beat her in the bottom of the eighth), Pacman and pinball.

It was too nice a day to stay inside, so we checked out some of the stores on Princess Street, then topped the afternoon off with a “It was just a dream” fro yo at Parfait.

While it was well after dark when I got home, in the old days, we probably would have gone into the wee hours of the night. Still, it was an awesome afternoon playing hookey, and on the plus side, we were both able to enjoy a beautiful weekend. This week’s #HappyAct is to plan an afternoon playing hookey–just don’t get caught!

How to be happier at work

Chief happiness officerIn April, I attended a workshop by Dr. Raj Raghunathan, Professor of Marketing at the McCombs School of Business and known happiness researcher at the University of Austin, Texas. His talk was on how to be happier at work.

Here is the Coles notes version of what he shared.

First, it pays to be happier at work. Happier workers are healthier and more productive. They are better at making decisions and creative problem solving. When you’re happy, your brain is “lit up” and working on full cylinders. Happier workers also tend to be better team players. It is in companies’ best interests to make sure their employees are happy.

Now for the million dollar question. How can you be happier at work? The good doctor shared three tenets to live by:

  1. Find an optimal work-life balance: he recommends working no more than 40 hours a week and cited many studies where working more can actually make you less productive
  2. Cut your commute. Commuting is a happiness killer and results in higher stress levels and incidences of sickness and leave
  3. Promote socializing within your organization. Organizations where co-workers develop friendships have significantly lower turnover rates and higher engagement rates. Encourage people to network, volunteer for social causes together, organize retreats and team building exercises and get to know your co-workers.

I asked the question how do we get organizations to buy in to these tenets? Dr. Raghunathan says every organization should have a Chief Happiness Officer and leaders must embrace these principles to drive a healthy and happy work culture.

This week’s #HappyAct is to adopt these three principles to be happier at work. And if anyone is looking for a Chief Happiness Officer for their organization, I’m open to offers.