At Work

Who are the happiest people at work?

Happiness is a state of mind regardless of external circumstances and events.

The most secure and long lasting happiness that we are in control of is our inner world. It is the choice we make where no matter how much hardship, pain, loss, dishonesty, ingratitude, unfairness and jealousy we experience, we can still choose happiness.

It is not about indifference, it is about self-freedom despite circumstances. The wise often say, “What stands between us and happiness is… us.”

In line with that saying, here are three inspiring stories that will teach us how to practice unshakeable happiness in adversity.

The last of human freedoms

In his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl speaks about his experience as a Holocaust survivor.

During his time in the concentration camps, his parents, brother and pregnant wife died. He remembered despite the conditions the survivors were in, there were few who despite their suffering, would still walk around comforting the hurt and even offering their last piece of bread to the hungry.

He recognised in this, proof that “everything can be taken away from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

To Viktor Frankl, “Every day, every hour, offered the opportunity to make a decision – a decision which determined whether you would or would not submit to those powers which threatened to rob you of your very self, your inner freedom.”

I would imagine that at work, attitude is not the last of our human freedoms, but instead it is the most critical of human freedoms.

Here’s a question to ask yourself: What is the one attitude I choose to have in this unhappy work situation that will continue to bring me unshakeable happiness?

Looking for a happier workplace? Register and browse for job opportunities here

Making your heart bigger than your hole

In one of Oprah’s TV episodes, Francine and David Wheeler were asked about how they overcame the suffering of the loss of their child during the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.

Here’s what they said: “The mistake is looking at life, and thinking, ‘I have nothing left to give because of my tragedy.’ And, you know, in our darkest moments, we have been there. Yes, but the key is it doesn’t really matter what you expect from life. And to be able to see that is a very important step to finding your way out of the dark…. You’ve got to make your heart bigger than your hole. You just have to make your decisions out of love. And when we make the decisions out of fear, that’s when we have problems.”

Situations at work, more often than not, go according to our expectations.

Here’s a question to ask yourself: “What is my clear decision in this seemingly unhappy situation that will bring me unshakeable happiness?”

Turning lemons into lemonades

Psychologist Salvatore R. Maddi, Ph.D., and colleagues at the University of Chicago did a 12 year longitudinal study in Illinois Bell Telephone (IBT).

In 1981, IBT downsized its 26,000 strong to 50% in one year. Research showed that two thirds of the employees in the study suffered significant performance, leadership and health declined, however, the other one third thrived.

From the ones who thrived and stayed in the company, they rose to the top of the company and from the ones who thrived and left the company, they started their own companies or strategically found employment in other companies.

Maddi and his team were curious to answer the question to why some people suffered from breakdowns when faced with overwhelming stress while others thrived.

He realised that it was three key beliefs that thrivers had that allowed them to thrive.

1) Commitment: the attitude to continue being involved and engaged in events rather than feeling isolated and dejected;

2) Control: the attitude to try to influence outcomes rather than feel powerless in situations; and

3) Challenge: the attitude to view threats as stress or opportunities for learning.

It seems clear that all situations have the power to make us feel happy or unhappy. However, some people seem to have more power than the situations they are faced with.

Here’s a question to ask yourself: “What is the one thing still within my control and power that can continue to make me happy in this seemingly unhappy situation?”

You may ask, “what about those who are really, really struggling?” Well, quite honestly, it is in times of these challenges that we are pushed and challenged and these principles of happiness have the most to offer to us.

As you live, as you work, choose unshakeable happiness.

Hetal Doshi – Suhana Daswani is a professionally qualified organisational psychologist, certified professional coach, and the founder of O Psych Sdn Bhd, with an expertise in work performance, team dynamics and emotional intelligence. To get in touch with her, drop an email to


Related articles:

Nine things you can do to be happier at work

10 undeniable signs you’re a workaholic

Like this article? Follow us on Facebook to keep up-to-date with our latest insightful articles and career advice.