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13 Apr 2014

3 Reasons Why People Are Unhappy At Work and What to Do About It

Surveys after surveys showed that more than half of people at work are unhappy.  Just look at the many gloomy faces on the morning MRTs and it's obvious what I'm talking about. 

Many people work just for money, and some work to support their mortgage, families and the ever rising expenses.  To me, people are unhappy due to 3 mis-understandings:

1.  Conditional Happiness  
"I'll be happy if I get promoted or I get the job at Google".  In this thinking, the grass is always greener on the other side. People will, instead of making the best of what they have in their current career and enjoying every moment of it, is looking for the next happiness.  Because of this, they are distracted from the present and thus cannot do their best.  Without doing the best, how can they produce good work and have a rewarding job?  

We know that such pursuit is futile because the perfect job does not exist.  Even if it does exist, it cannot last. 

The Solution?  Make Your Current Work a Reward, Not a Place for Rewards.  Find Happiness in whatever you're doing and you'll be happy at work.

2. Regret for the Past 
In Singapore, people often regret not buying property earlier.  Many regret choosing their life partner. My friend even regrets buying Samsung Galaxy S5!  

The most common regret at work is not taking the right courses earlier and thus lose out on promotion opportunities due the lack of skills and knowledge.  (For what a good training program should cover, click here).   

We know that regret brings tears, for we cannot do anything to things that have happened, good or bad. It makes us guilty, makes us miserable. It is useless to regret because we cannot turn back the clock.  This is because time is like running water, we cannot touch the same water twice.

The Solution: Stop Regretting.  Start Doing. 

3. Worry for the Future
Interview any management personnel and they'll tell you that job security is at its worst for people at the top.  In fact, many executives  also have to worry for their organizations' worries, like cash flow, profits and staff leaving.  No wonder they have so much white hair and wrinkles on their faces! 


After doing something, we are anxious about the outcome.  We are afraid of losing what we have, and if we don't get what we want, we suffer. The constant worries now includes the state of the economy, USA's QE, China's economy hard-landing, and now MH370.

Statistics show that out of 100 things that we worry about, only 5 or fewer will actually turn out badly. Is it worthwhile worrying?  Since worry cannot solve any of our problems, why worry?  Worry only cause unhappiness and bring fear.

The Solution: Stop Worrying and Start Working. 

So my friend, you too can be happy at work from now onwards.  As what Dale Carnegie said, “Happiness has nothing to do with who we are or what we have. It is related to our thinking and perception.”  Happiness is a state of mind, it has little to do with what we have or who we are now. So if you want to be happy, just be happy. It's that simple.  Period. 

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