Work can make you well – Really!
(The reading time for this post is 5 minutes and 30 seconds)
Here are 3 reasons why you should read this post :
- You will build your wellbeing toolkit by developing familiarity with 10 ways to flourish at work.
- You will be given helpful links and resources to go further into learning about wellbeing.
- You are one of the first people to gain access to the free illustrated e-book on 22 Tools to Overcome Grumpiness.
Introduction. Here are 10 ways you can flourish by creating nourishing work. Embrace these ways as invitations to flourish. They are not rules or tips you must follow. You are the expert on your own wellbeing. I trust these ways will give you a nudge in the right direction. The 10 ways offer a pathway to wellbeing through well-doing because specific actions are strong triggers to install and sustain wellbeing at work. This post was created in conjunction with a one hour session I facilitated for Nurses Week at Winnipeg’s Heath Sciences Centre on May 11th.
Start your day off right. Establish a solid morning routine that gets you out of bed on the right foot. Perhaps you go for a jog first thing in the morning. Or you sit by the fireplace and hug a cup of coffee. Maybe you write for 20 minutes. Or you help your children pack their lunches for school. The specifics of your routine matter less than having a routine that effectively and efficiently triggers engaged wellbeing for you. I encourage you to read a post on my morning routine and follow this up by reading a new morning routine from someone each week at My Morning Routine. Other people’s routines give clues and cues on how to construct a morning routine that works for us.
Begin each day at work with the double endings in mind. Stephen Covey said, “begin with the end in mind” while William Bridges said that all transitions begin with an end. Know the results you want from your work and also determine what must end for those results to be achieved. Take one or two minutes every day to determine the results you are working towards that week while also attending to what must end for wellbeing at work to begin. Perhaps you want to finish a project this week and you must stop focusing on a nonproductive task. Perhaps you want to improve patient safety and what must end is a strained relationship with your manager. Know your end (result) and your endings (what must stop).
Install PERMAnent wellbeing. I don’t care for the term positive psychology, it sounds too much like saccharine and pop psychology. I know that is not the case but I know many people are dismissive of positive psychology because of this. I appreciate the research behind this discipline, especially the work of Martin Seligman. Work offers opportunities for both happiness and wellbeing right inside the very work itself. Focus your work on building and sustaining PERMAnent flourishng with: Positive emotions, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning and Accomplishment.
Create meaning and purpose for your work. Know why you work. Perhaps you work because you love your hospital. Perhaps you work because you care about patients. Perhaps you work to give your family the best life possible. Perhaps you work because work enriches you with relationships and achievement. We do not necessarily share the same why of working. I encourage you to determine your meaning. Here is my response to the meaning of life and here is the response of so many others. Use these sources to create a strong scaffold of meaning to support you and your work. As the Dalai Lama declared, “The question is not to know what is the meaning of life, but what meaning I can give to my life.”
Don’t forget to wear your SCARF at work. David Rock knows about your brain at work. When we align our work with SCARF (Status, Consistency, Autonomy, Relatedness and Fairness) our work – works better. Here is a brief article outlining the SCARF model at work. Rock’s book on Your Brain at Work is an insightful book on how to improve your day with your brain in mind by following one couple as they proceed through their day and how they could improve their day if they made better use of their brains.
Pair Mindfulness-East with Mindfulness-West. Mindfulness has been sweeping through workplaces around the globe. Did you know there are two types of mindfulness? Mindfulness-East is the perspective of being aware in each moment of what you are doing without judgement. Mindfulness-West, developed by Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer teaches how to engage by actively noticing novelty and distinctions. Noticing novelty and distinction engages you and brings new life to your day.
Eliminate the negative. Baumeister and others have shown that bad is stronger than good. Before you get busy trying to add additional things in your day as the pathway to wellbeing ensure you address your challenges and bad events. Some researchers suggest that bad is 2 or 3 times stronger than good. When something bad happens do not be surprised at how it can knock you off kilter and how it begins to feel so permanent, pervasive, and personal. Remember to eliminate the negative before accentuating the positive.
Take the 90 second pause. Jill Bolte Taylor a neuroscience researcher, who also suffered a stroke, suggested that the shelf life of an emotion is 90-seconds. This would mean that upset or negative emotions last only about 90 seconds, yet for many of us they seem to last a lifetime. Give yourself 90 seconds from the moment you feel a negative emotion before you act on that emotion. Also know that you must feed negative emotions every 90 seconds to keep them alive. We feed it with fragments of tragic stories, feelings of being wronged, and a multitude of tiny, almost unconscious mechanisms, to keep being upset. If you remain upset ninety seconds after the initial emotion it is essential to ask yourself: “How am I feeding my upset to keep it alive?”
Sharpen progress while making setbacks dull. Most of us fail to maximize the benefits of progress and minimize the impact of setbacks. Progress and setbacks are so pervasive at work and daily life that we often fail to fully notice their impact. End each day by taking a minute to notice what stood out for you that day. When progress stands out ensure you let it soak in, celebrate it, and determine ways to extend it. When setbacks stand out ensure you determine what you can do next, how you might learn from it, or what you can do to let it go. Know that work and life often resemble a real-life game of snakes and ladders and our job is to climb ladders and squish snakes.
Use 22 tools to exit from grumpiness. Does work make you grumpy or do you find yourself surrounded by grumpy people?. I just completed an e-book, illustrated by John Junson, on 22 Tools to Overcome Grumpiness. Click on the cover below to enjoy this short, yet engaging, book.
A Short Reading List. Here are 9 books that can improve your motivation and skills to flourish with nourishing work:
- Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer, The Progress Principle.
- Ellen Langer, Mindfulness.
- David Rock, Your Brain at Work.
- Steven Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
- Tom Rath, Are You Fully Charged?
- William Bridges, Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes.
- Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
- Martin Seligman, Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being
- Jon Kabat-Zinn, Wherever You Go There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation is Everyday Life.
David Zinger is an employee engagement speaker and expert from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada who works around the globe helping organizations and individuals improve work engagement and engaged wellbeing.