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Happiness Research

Unhappiness Is Hazardous To Your Health

In an earlier post I talked about what it feels like to be happy at work. But what does it feel like to be unhappy? While each person will experience it differently, research conducted by Gallup suggests there are two main states being:

Disengaged: this is rated as a mild form of unhappiness at work. If you are disengaged, you are “sleepwalking” through your days at work. You show up for work, put in the required hours, and complete the necessary work. But you have little motivation to go beyond the minimum effort required, and you don’t feel much passion or creativity for your work. You are just going through the motions, and tend to see work as a mutually beneficial trade of your time for money.

Being actively disengaged is when there is a much greater level of unhappiness. This is when you are completely dissatisfied with your work and feel disconnected from it. In this state you may feel really negative emotions like bitterness, resentment and even hate. These feelings are so strong that you often voice your displeasure and the reasons for it. Disengaged people hide their unhappiness quietly, but when you are actively disengaged you feel so strongly that you act out your unhappiness in public. Many times the negativity is so ingrained you just can’t see any solution to make things better.

Being miserable at work impacts every area of your life. You carry this emotional burden with you back home, when you sleep and into every relationship you have. It is so unhealthy mentally, emotionally and spiritually, but as the research shows, it also impacts on your health. In the Gallup research results released in April (http://www.gallup.com/poll/147191/actively-disengaged-workers-jobless-equally-poor-health.aspx), actively disengaged employees are likely to experience several chronic illnesses over their lifetimes, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. Over 20% also have been diagnosed with depression, twice the rate of depression found in happy employees.

There is certainly a circular relationship between happiness and health, and it is hard to know which comes first. Regardless, the fact that they are interdependent makes it all the more important to do what we can to be happy at work to ensure our overall wellbeing.

Also, it is important out of respect for our colleagues as well. Just as you have a right to be happy at work, so do our workmates. It is unfair to our colleagues if their workplace is being tainted by our own negativity.

Of course all areas of our life are integrated, and if you are so unhappy at work, it is likely that other areas of your life aren’t so great as well. For your overall health and happiness, if you are miserable at work, maybe now is the time to make some changes to break the cycle. Sometimes it is hard to know what do to ourselves, so spending some time with a good friend, or even a life coach would be wise. Our dreams also hold so much wisdom and guidance for us about how to solve our life problems, and for more information on this go to: www.dream.net.au.

For more on the link between disengagement and depression go to the wonderful blog post by Cassandra Gaisford: http://areyouhappyatwork.wordpress.com/2010/04/03/disengagement-can-be-really-depressing/

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