By: Ronald Walser, DPT, GCS
Infinity Rehab, Director of Rehab
Toppenish Nursing and Rehab
I believe we are meant to be happy and should strive for our own definition of success. My hope in sharing my road to happiness at work will help people in a similar situation realize there is and should be satisfaction and happiness during each day of work. The realizations that I have come to are just as the title says, “A path to happiness at work,” not the path or our path, it is just a path that has worked for me and hopefully some aspects of it will work for you too.
While this process in achieving happiness is largely a personal journey and takes significant individual desire and effort, Infinity Rehab has played a major role in my happiness at work. At Infinity, I have felt supported, guided, respected, valued, and encouraged to be happy and successful. Working in an environment where co-workers and supervisors are encouraging my professional and personal growth has given me the motivation to improve myself and to be the best version of myself. The atmosphere present at Infinity is such that I can discuss my goals with any of my supervisors or co-workers and receive genuine, caring feedback and assistance in achieving my goals.
Working as a medical professional can be very stressful – dealing with complicated situations, striving to do what is needed to help those we care about, and always pursuing self-improvement and obtaining the best in all our situations – including the best wages and work hours. Sometimes work follows us home, consuming our thoughts and keeping us awake at night. This stress can weigh us down to the point of unhappiness and reduce work to a means to make ends meet. This leaves little satisfaction in our daily work life because we are not always where we feel we should be in our careers or have what we think we deserve. Deep down we know our potential and the personal definition of greatness we strive to achieve, but many days we fall short.
Most of us can relate to the preceding paragraph. I was there, and am occasionally still there, but I have come to a few realizations that help me be happier and find satisfaction at work, which is vital, as our careers take up 30-50% or more of our daily lives. I have noticed that as soon as I realize I am stressed or unhappy and I apply the following lessons, my attitude and overall happiness improves almost instantaneously.
Don’t worry about what is out of your control.
The number one thing that helped me become happy at work was to stop worrying about what I don’t have control over. I would give too much thought to issues such as how consistent staffing was at other buildings, how successful the SNF up the road performed. I dwelled on others perceptions about me as a therapist or my program; the future of the company or the healthcare environment in general.
My work life improved immensely when I started focusing on the suggestions my leaders gave me for my building and not worrying about things I didn’t have control over. There will always be something we wish was occurring in our situations, but that’s not the reality, so why worry about it? Just do your best with what you have, work to make your situation the best that is possible, and let things work out as they will. We should seek to solve problems but focus on improving what we have control over. Hopefully this will carry over into bigger and better things with time.
Everyone has different strengths.
One of my greatest weaknesses is always comparing myself to the many successful people around me. I look at the great things others do and think to myself, “what can I do to make that kind of difference,” or “how can I achieve that kind of success.” If we dwell on these thoughts then we will drag ourselves down to the ground because we will notice our failings more profoundly. Too often we compare our weaknesses to the strengths of others. I did this constantly. I finally realized that my strengths are not theirs and their strengths are not mine. We are individually woven to be able to achieve our best self for our own purpose, not theirs.
Look for strengths in others.
Once I embraced that everyone has their own strengths and no two people are alike, I began looking for the best in other people. Though I may disagree with others and might not approach a problem the same way, I have to believe the person is acting with their best intentions based on their abilities, strengths, understanding and vision (assuming the action is ethical and honest). I then find a way to compromise, look beyond the action and into the intention, and realize that just because I would not do the same thing, does not mean that it is wrong. If you have co-workers or supervisors that you don’t agree with, believe they are acting with their best intentions. Offer them your support and give them access to your strengths. Your strengths might compliment their strengths for the best possible outcome.
Consistency breeds success, but the only true constant is change.
To be successful at anything we must be consistent in thought and action. Realize that obstacles will be present, negativity from ourselves or others will enter, and change will occur – this is normal. We all want every day to run smoothly, but the reality is every day will present a challenge. Remember to be consistent in effort and focus, but be ready for change and react to it positively. One of my favorite sayings is: Character is the ability to follow through with a decision after the emotions of making the decision have passed. If we are consistent in our approach to challenges of everyday, happiness and positivity will follow.
Try your best to eat healthy and exercise.
Now that my happiness has improved, I want to be the best person I can for all those around me – my co-workers, my patients, and of course for my family, friends, and myself. Focusing on my health will significantly improve my well-being, happiness, and self-worth. This is what I now need to be consistent with, but knowing how good it feels to do well at eating and exercising for one day, or one week, I can only imagine the positivity that will exude when my lifestyle has changed.
Smile and laugh.
I challenge each of you reading this to do something at this very moment – smile and laugh out loud. That’s right, force yourself to smile and laugh right now. This may seem trivial, but I bet that if you truly take this challenge, your momentary happiness will improve. We are remarkable beings, we can make the choice to change our attitudes, and a smile and laugh will do just that.