By Nina Samuel-Camps, Client Director at OgilvyOne


Happiness at work – where to begin? How do you define happiness when it’s an emotion and means different things to different people? Happiness is also a choice. Many people skip this bit. It’s easy to lay your happiness firmly in the lap of another person or organization, but do that, and you’re essentially wading into victim and blame territory, which isn’t pretty.

The Scandinavians have a word for happiness at work. In Danish, the word is “Arbejdsglæde”, translated into English simply as work-happiness. It’s that feeling you get when you: Enjoy what you do, do good work and feel proud of it, work with nice people, value what you do, you’re appreciated for your work, take responsibility, have fun at work, are motivated and energised.

Happiness is something you can practice. But if you’re feeling unhappy, that’s not failure. The key is to steer away from apathy, which is that loss of movement. Apathy at work is dangerous and it’s infectious. It’s vital to focus on getting back towards movement by using whatever hooks you have. So, if you’re feeling unhappy at work, understand why and talk about it. Maybe the situation can be solved or there is something you can change.

The first step is to be present with what you believe is causing you to be unhappy. The second, is to recognise people similar to you and how positive change is possible. Sometimes it just takes reminding that change is possible. Third step is to talk about it with the mindset of solving the situation.

The above is all great in theory, but how do you encourage positive movement, and how do you practice happiness? You train your brain to be conscious about how you devote your mental resources. Mindfulness is a great way of bringing a sense of awareness to your mental chatter. For example, if you’re at work you could simply focus your attention on every inhalation and exhalation. Practice this for one minute and you’ll be able to identify where you are choosing to focus your thoughts. Once you’re aware, then you can make a change.  

Another tip to take you into positive movement and practice happiness, is through simple approaches like writing down three things you’re grateful for, or sending a positive email to someone praising or thanking them. By doing these habits, we’re constantly bringing our brain back to the positive, getting it to refocus on the good things that are happening and the people that are meaningful in our lives. And the more we practice, the easier it becomes to see that stuff in our environment more naturally and more easily.