Do you know what feels better than checking all of your work emails in one morning?
Getting to the end of a long and tiring day and knowing that everything that needed to be done for the day is done.
You can feel the sense of achievement, enjoy the feeling of pride in your work, and feel happier and more accomplished.
This feeling is known as happiness, and many researchers say that happy feeling are the single most important thing to bring out in your work.
Why being productive feels good
Let’s say you are tracking your productivity from morning tonight. You are taking a snapshot of your day every hour and you check your progress against the goals you set for yourself.
If you are getting tasks done on time, making good progress on your projects, and doing things with quality, you will likely feel good about it.
However, what about working hard and making progress without feeling great about it? What about just surviving?
Let’s look at this from another angle. I have worked with a few million different people and always feel surprised at how often people who have made a lot of progress in their careers claim this:
“I’m great at work, I just get by.”
Many people make this claim by saying it while at a very high level of productivity.
They will have an excellent list of things they did throughout the day, have more than enough time to write a business plan, create an elegant web application, or produce a great video, but their work quality is below average.
Because they claim they are great at work, others tell them they are great at work. They keep saying it.
People love to give praise to those who are clearly great at what they do.
Happy feelings lead to a feeling of accomplishment as if you’ve achieved a goal
Research shows that happy people are more efficient, have better memory, are more engaged in their work, have more productive meetings, are less likely to get sick, and more likely to stay in their jobs.
Of course, this type of happiness-as-achievement is not the only kind of happiness.
There is research that shows that there are good and bad forms of happiness–and that a type of happiness can actually make you more productive.
Here’s what happiness, productivity, and work have in common:
To be happy, you need to have some measure of achievement or success. This can be accomplished through work, family, friends, romantic partners, hobbies, and other activities.
Happiness and joy are associated with positive relationships
Relationships help to create lasting happiness, meaning, and contentment. Relationships bring love and friendship, success, security, and validation.
Happiness is also associated with a feeling of self-respect. When you are satisfied with yourself and feel proud of what you’ve achieved, you are more likely to be happy.
The key to feeling good is feeling effective. When you feel like you’re really doing something, there is a sense of confidence, accomplishment, and pride.
The more you feel that you’re helping people, that you’re achieving your goals, that you’re having an impact, that you’re accomplishing your goals, and that you’re making a positive difference in the world, the happier you will feel.
Happy people do more
The scientific research also suggests that there is a clear correlation between happiness and productivity.
Highly productive people do more. In fact, numerous studies show that people who feel more productive are happier, more satisfied, and enjoy their work more.
Happy people make time to work, and they make it count–they go beyond their usual 40-hour workweek and work 60-80 hours instead.
They set and achieve more goals. They get involved and do more than they could have ever done before.
I was recently talking to a close friend who was going through a rough time. He was questioning the meaning of his life and his place in the world, and he was questioning his career path.
I asked him why he was still working so hard when he was so miserable and felt like he wasn’t accomplishing anything.
He replied, “How can I not work hard? I’m the only one who is going to care about what I do when I’m gone.”
Our kids look to us to model their behaviors, values, and how to live
If we believe that work is a necessary evil or that we are only doing it because we have to, they will never develop a positive view of work, of success, and success.
When we focus on work as a necessary evil, that we are only doing it because we have to, and that it is not a worthy or enjoyable endeavor, we are teaching our kids to believe these things, too.
They learn this behavior from us and our culture. If we teach them the opposite, then they will learn to be happy about their work, and they will learn to be happy at work.
Next time you see someone rushing to their office or the car, please don’t judge them as lazy, time-wasting, or as failing to be “worth it.”
Instead, tell them to slow down, to enjoy their ride, and to take in the sights and sounds around them.
See the world through their eyes and appreciate their happiness. Show them that it is okay to be happy at work.