The Question of Happiness


Happiness is something that we all strive to have in our lives. This time of year especially, people may struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder, the weather being cold and dreary, and the holiday season ending, it can be hard to stay connected to happiness. Many of us would say that happiness is an important component to nourish and support both our physical and mental health. We try to make daily strides to be conscious of things that make us happy, or unhappy, and work to increase and improve upon our happiness.

However, there can be many stressors in life that can make it hard to find and achieve the happiness we are looking for. Tasha Eurich, Ph.D., addressed ways that we may be able to help ourselves achieve happiness in her recent article “The Invisible Habits Hurting Our Happiness.” Dr. Eurich shared that it’s easy for us to overlook small changes in our behavior and in our environments, especially negative ones. Recent headlines about corporate greed and corruption indicate that the information is revealed after a long history or as the corporate practices become more extreme and “whistleblowers” feel obligated to report them. One small unethical corporate decision may not be questioned and, over time, may become the norm. Dr. Eurich encourages people to pay attention to the little things in life that make our lives better and more fulfilling and to consciously make time to do those things. People may experience the same kind of challenge at work when they have worked the same job for many years and don’t enjoy their work the way that they used to. In other circumstances, they may be so accustomed to everyday stress, that they don’t notice the toll that it takes until they are completely exhausted.

For many of us, our jobs are a central part of our lives. We spend many hours a day actually doing our jobs, preparing to go to work, setting up necessary tasks to complete our work the next day and work overtime when there are additional tasks that need to be completed. Ruth White, Ph.D., highlights the fact that many people are unhappy at work and, because work is such a large part of our lives, it makes our lives seem less fulfilling.  Dr. Joe Accardi, who is the founder of the Canadian Positive Psychology Network, discusses key elements of happiness that can allow us to be more fulfilled and more satisfied at work. These key elements include engagement, positive emotion, meaning, accomplishment and relationships.


Key elements to happiness at work


  1. Engagement refers to one’s ability to focus only on the task at hand. When you are able to be truly focused on your task, you are able to be more productive and feel connected with the work that you’re doing. A Gallop poll indicated that only about 33% of Americans are truly engaged at work. It can take a lot of effort to be mindful and focus only on one task as many other fleeting thoughts may distract us.

  2. Having a positive outlook and experiencing positive emotions can strongly influence how we feel.  Mindfulness allows us to be optimistic about the current moment and gratitude and forgiveness help us view our past and future in more positive ways. Focusing on enjoyment can help us set our goals and direct us in making decisions as we learn from experiences and move forward.

  3. Most of us are in our current roles at work because it is something that we enjoy, feel good about or want to contribute to the world in some meaningful way. We are striving to find and share meaning.  Keeping in mind “the bigger picture” as to the purpose of your organization may help you stay in touch with how even the seemingly mundane, routine work that we sometimes do can still be meaningful and can be a necessary part of long-term success.

  4. Accomplishment is another way that we can help recognize where we’ve come from and all that we’ve learned and achieved since we started. We can feel good about ourselves when we can see our progress, or have our progress recognized, and helps us develop a stronger sense of self-efficacy.

  5. The relationships that we have with the people we work with help us to be connected with others and share a common goal. Fostering relationships with coworkers can be especially meaningful when you can reflect on a shared purpose and the work that we are doing.


The more stress we feel at work, the more our performance and our health are likely to be negatively impacted.  Using the positive psychology principles mentioned above can help us find more happiness and fulfillment in our work and in our lives.



For Help:

If you or someone you know might be experiencing anxiety or insecurity in a relationship or in general, utilize Employee Assistance Program (EAP) benefits to seek services from highly qualified, licensed professionals.

Psychological Health Roanoke provides the EAP services for Family Service of Roanoke Valley and provides these updates on a monthly basis to help our employees manage their own lives, emotions and responsibilities.


  1. Eurich, Tasha, Ph.D., The Invisible Habits Hurting Our Happiness. Psychology Today, retrieved on February 19, 2018 from

  2. White, Ruth, Ph.D., Happy at Work. Psychology Today, retrieved on February 19, 2018  from