How to Be Happy at Work
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We often measure success in our careers by the size of our paychecks. But Stacia Pierce, job expert and host of the annual International Women’s Success Conference, says being happy at work is the true measure of success. “Money will not necessarily lead to happiness. But happiness can absolutely lead to making more money, as well as feeling fulfilled and confident at work no matter the scenario,” she says.

Patricia Simon, Ph.D., an associate research scientist at Yale University School of Medicine, agrees that workplace contentment is a powerful tool for promoting career success. “When you’re happy, you’re usually more productive,” Simon says. “Happiness increases sales, performance and so on. You’re also better at taking in information when you’re happy, which gives you an on-the-job advantage.”

Just 27 percent of Black women plan to stay with their current employer, says a recent survey from the Working Mother Research Institute. So how do you break out of the doldrums and increase your satisfaction? Follow these tips:

“We work in a no-complaining zone,” says Pierce. Instead of seeing obstacles, she and her team see opportunities to explore new paths. “Our zero tolerance for complaints and 100 percent commitment to thinking every problem is potential to learn keep the energy high and everyone in a good mood.”

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Corporate responsibility and social engagement are things three out of four women of color rank as important to workplace enjoyment. “I’m driven by wanting to be a professional and to be able to stand up for those I grew up with who were marginalized,” says Areva Martin, 44, a partner at Martin & Martin, LLP, in Los Angeles and the head of the Special Needs Network. If your company doesn’t already have a corporate mission, suggest your team partake in group volunteerism for Habitat for Humanity or the American Red Cross.

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It’s easy to get caught up in everyday minutiae and lose sight of the big picture. But Pierce has found that taking a break from the clutter in her mind helps her maintain perspective: “I meditate and use this time to cultivate new ideas and find solutions to my problems, even before my day starts.”

The happiest Black women are those who feel they can be their true selves at work, according to the survey. That can range from being able to embrace your natural curls instead of having to wear your hair straight to fit in to communicating with coworkers in the same way you would with someone outside your organization.

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Just because you’re a superwoman doesn’t mean you have to function like one 24/7. To preserve inner peace and career harmony, follow in the footsteps of Hattie Hill, president and CEO of Women’s Foodservice Forum, the largest national organization focused on the advancement of women in the food-service industry. “I find a quiet place to recharge, like my office or my car, before heading to a meeting,” she says.

Instead of spending time stewing about your boss’s bad mood yesterday or next week’s meeting, Simon suggests looking at the here and now. “Too much time spent thinking about the past can contribute to workplace anxiety,” she says. To focus on the present, keep a running list of sources of pleasure during the workday, whether it’s a coworker holding open a door on your way into the building or receiving an unexpected accolade.

This article was originally published in the November issue of ESSENCE, on newsstands now!