Posted by: healingtheworkplace | April 28, 2008

The Joy of Working

How many of you actually enjoy working? I do, but then I’m self-employed. I know people who love their work but hate the organization that they work for. I also know people who work in great organizations but hate their work. 

As with anything as complicated the 21st century workplace there is more than one way to look at the joy of working…so let’s begin.

In 1985 Denis Waitley and Reni Witt actually wrote a book called the Joy of Working. This is a self-help book which includes thirty different things (one for each day of the month) that you can do to put more joy into your worklife. 

The authors write about such things as…

  • dreams
  • goal seting
  • being your best
  • self-reliance
  • risk-taking
  • learning, etc. etc.

Should we be happy in our work? Well, according to a growing number of people the answer is YES!

Kenford Nedd, MD writes, “You are entitled to be happy. Happy people live longer and they accomplish more”.

While this may seem like a no-brainer not everyone agrees with Dr. Nedd. In fact many of us have been raised to believe that the pursuit of happiness is somehow wrong. Some people even feel quilty when they feel good.

Of course the important question for today’s post is, “should we expect to be happy while we are working?”

Would it surprise you to learn that the subject of happiness and how it affects our performance at work is so hot that economists are investigating the subject? I kid you not.

The subject of happiness has been studied, examined and debated by philosophers for centuries.

The Greeks were experts on the subject of happiness.  They have provided us with two words that we can use to use when we are discussing the subject:

  • Hedonia
  • Eudaimonia

Hedonia, or the devotion to pleasure as a way of life, has gotten a bad rap over the years.

Eudaimonia may be more acceptable, especially when we are talking about being happy at work. Eudaimonia is described as “striving toward excellence based on one’s unique talents and potential”.

Finding happiness or joy at work is at once a very personal thing and at the same time it depends on the organization you find yourself working in.

Joy is the result of finding work that enables you to use and develop your unique talents and gifts. The Joy of Working mentioned above provides lots of ideas for things that you can do in your pursuit of happiness.

On the organizational side there are a few things that are required if people are going to be happy at work:

  • great leadership (as always)
  • organizational values such as respect and trust (that are shared and honored)
  • communication
  • recognition
  • celebration
  • social support and team work
  • opportunities for ongoing learning and development

And remember what Studs Terkel said, “Most of us have jobs that are too small for our spirits”. 

Finding joy and happiness in your work will certainly feed your spirit.




  1. Working happy is a right every employee deserves. It shouldn’t matter if you are working in the hotel industry or in spa industry. What does matter is your ability to cultivate the 7 requirements listed above.

    This isn’t easy and not always provided, so begin to talk to people you work with and try to add one of these at a time. Hopefully the are responsive and willing to improve.

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