Next week (23rd - 27th of September) is the International Week of Happiness at Work, which is a key aspect of our mission. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states about work that:
"Human work proceeds directly from persons created in the image of God and called to prolong the work of creation by subduing the earth, both with and for one another. Hence work is a duty: 'If any one will not work, let him not eat.' Work honors the Creator’s gifts and the talents received from him (2427)";
it also says that:
"In work, the person exercises and fulfills in part the potential inscribed in his nature. The primordial value of labor stems from man himself, its author and its beneficiary. Work is for man, not man for work. Everyone should be able to draw from work the means of providing for his life and that of his family, and of serving the human community (2428)."
It seems to us that when work is so important, then being happy at work is also important; while there is certainly value in offering up our sufferings for a prayer intention, often it takes simple changes to make an environment that is more pleasant to work with for everyone. Here's some advice for being happy at work as Catholics.
1. Ora et Labora: pray and work, and see work as prayer too.
Prayer feeds our souls and the sacraments give us the grace that we need to face our circumstances. When times are tough, that's when we need to hit our knees the most. It doesn't have to be a significant length of quiet time all in one go, it can be as simple as a quick mental prayer as the day unfolds (you can find some more tips about this here), or keeping a sacramental with you to bring your mind to the Lord whenever you see it or touch it. Above all, make it an intentional priority to make a short act of offering, daily if you can but also offer your week ahead in your prayers after Mass on Sunday. Turn all that you do into an offering to the Lord.
2. Embrace a spirit of service
Connected to turning all that we do into an offering to the Lord is the idea of seeing our work as service of others. It's easier to see for those who work in the service industries or other people-facing jobs, but even bringing a cup of tea to your colleagues is an act of service. Become attuned to the needs of the people around you so that you can find ways to be of service, from the small things like refilling the paper tray in the photocopier after you used the last sheet, to big ones like taking some tasks off a colleague so they can get the time off they really need.
3. Don't dwell on the negative
Some people are more prone to this than others, but it's easy for a small thing to become a mountain of negativity. Do not be ashamed to ask for the help of a therapist, whether or not you suffer from a mental health condition...mental health itself depends on healthy behaviours of our mind, and they can help you learn them as well as treat issues like anxiety or depression if needed. A spiritual director will be able to help discern whether there is a spiritual issue underlying it all as well. Still, even when things are mostly alright, the same tools of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and the wisdom of Catholic spirituality will have a positive impact.
4. Spend time with colleagues and be intentional with them
Some people will have jam-packed personal schedules that make after-work drinks impossible, but a lunch not at the desk perhaps is easier to work out. Even if taking the time to go out and eat together isn't feasible, you can be more intentional in the relationships you have at work. Get to know the people you work with, and make an effort to truly listen in conversations instead of having your mind's attention exhausted by your to-do list. Another way to be intentional with people is with praise of what they do, which in turns also make the person receiving the praise happier and spreads positivity all around.
5. Learn to say no
This may appear to contradict previous advice, but nobody can pour from an empty well. Learning to say no to what we really can't do or don't want to do for legitimate reasons allows us to have more to give when we do the things we say yes to. You can also serve others by leaving opportunities open to them instead of taking them yourself, you don't only serve by doing things. Humility is about having a realistic view of ourselves, and it's a great virtue to have when trying not to put too much on our plates.