Office Psychotherapy and a Prescription Pad

I had a co-worker once tell me, life begins when you clock out. With a seemingly forced smile of hope she suggested I join a book club, take up an art activity, or go out for drinks so that my entire day isn’t consumed by thoughts of work. In her mission to save me, I couldn’t get past a bigger haunting message. My co-worker just admitted to feeling “dead” for 8 hours a day, since her life didn’t begin until the moment she left our office. Then lumping those hours with the additional 8 hours she spent sleeping, that’s 16 hours or the majority of the 24 hour day where my ill-fated coworker lost touch with consciousness.

The commonly accepted notion is, if the job “pays the bills,” that alone is enough to sacrifice happiness or searching for one’s “dream job.” Maybe the “dream job” is as evasive as the American Dream itself, but that doesn’t mean we cannot create our own peace and happiness within the workplace. There is a real possibility to make work an extension of one’s life so they don’t have to sacrifice 16 hours of the day to pay the light bill. Here are 5 ways to “undead” oneself at the office-space:

1) Find yourself within the workplace.

Look around. Observe the mission statement, structure, workplace duties and the “bones” of the organization and determine how it lines up to your personal world. If you were to find true success in the workplace, what would you be doing? How can you leave your personal signature that says “insert name” was here. Giving meaning and purpose to our job contributions can make for a way to feel alive and impactful.

2) Create an environment for personal success and happiness.

On football Sunday or Thanksgiving, you already know exactly what is needed to host the perfect event. Whether it’s supreme pizza, beer and a lucky jersey, or turkey, cranberry sauce, and grandma’s seal of approval, careful thought has gone into planning a particular atmosphere. That same thought process should go into work, thinking about the components needed for a happier workday. Maybe it is something big, such as asking to start an independent project, or something small as fresh flowers to pretty up a gray cubicle. Either way, this starts the process of learning ourselves in the workplace and gathering the tools needed for happiness and success.

3) Advocate to have needs met.

Now that you know what tools are needed for a successful and happy workday, it is important to advocate for such needs. Research company procedures for requesting customizations and connect with other employees who share in like-interests. If a connection can be made between a requested need and workplace productivity and the mission of the organization is uncompromised, employers may be willing to make allowances for personal changes.

4) Fight against monotony and black and white.

If Monday looks just like Tuesday and Wednesday is one-step closer to “Freedom Friday,” it might be time to evaluate how your happiness has been neglected at work. Human nature is progressive; we evolve so that our species may be continued through generations. To work in an environment that doesn’t support human nature, the employee is bound to suffer from boredom and sometimes depression. Taking on new projects, introducing challenges or hosting events/activities into the work routine can change up the monotonous flow and add vivid color to a world that can be black and white.

5) Have fun!

Have fun. Really, have fun! If I had a dollar for every person I came across that feared having fun met slacking off work responsibilities, I could retire. It’s as job duties read: 1) show up for work timely, 2) complete tasks, 3) wear a serious stone-face… Taking time away from duties to refresh oneself and laugh improves workplace morale and can give one more energy to do better work. Managers that walk around to make sure employees have their eyes glued to computer screens, have no way of telling if that employee is doing work on mentally frolicking along the beach in Miami. The right amount of fun creates the perfect space for healthy workers who actually feel alive while at work.