27 September 2023

Small things that bring great joy

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Brian de Haaff* investigates how his staff brighten their days at work in their personal searches for wellbeing and commitment.

“For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.” Khalil Gibran wrote this about friendship in his famous work The Prophet.

In this passage, he describes how the sweetness of small things, like laughter, has an invigorating effect.

I find this rings true in many parts of life and especially at work.

Small joys are restorative; they can also strengthen how connected you feel to your work and team.

Everyone deserves to be happy at work.

This is true simply because our jobs require so many waking hours.

Why spend them feeling lousy?

However, it is also important because people who report feeling joyful have a higher sense of engagement, harmony, and impact.

You are more committed to what you are doing when you experience personal satisfaction.

This makes good sense, but I also realise it may sound naive — even impossible — when the reality is that wellbeing at work continues to be lacking for many.

You will not magically love what you do just by looking on the bright side of small moments.

The truth is that many people are venturing on a personal search, looking for a role that is better suited to their long-term goals and an organisation that lives its values.

If you are one of those people, joy at work may seem distant, and I do not want to suggest that you deny your reality.

However, I believe it is worthwhile to seek and express gratitude for what is going right, even when it is something small.

You might be surprised by the perspective you gain when you look outward.

I was curious to hear what brightens work for the Aha! team, so I asked members to share their own small joys.

Some of their suggestions were quick and simple, while others took a bit more intention.

Here is what they had to say:

Collect keepsakes.

“Whenever I get positive feedback or a shout-out from a team member, I take a quick screenshot of the message and save it in a folder on my computer.

“Then, on days when I am not feeling as motivated, I flip through my collection of affirmations and instantly feel better.

It is a 60-second morale boost.” — Claire Juozitis, Marketing.

Communicate creatively.

“Emojis are modern shorthand.

Since we are fully remote, I love to show team spirit by celebrating individual, team, and company victories with fun emojis.

“It is a quick way to let others know I am engaged with what they are working on and excited about it.” — Jamey Iaccino, People Success.

Get enthused in groups.

“We have breakout channels in Slack to chat about things like cooking, gaming, and travel.

“In my favourite channel, the only topic discussed is pop culture.

It is fun to take a mental break and gab without judgment — a modern water cooler chat.” — Ashley Borg, Marketing.

Notice moments in tune.

“I like to notice when different parts of my life are in harmony.

“Recently, I was listening to the company performance update and I looked over to see my partner and my dog playing together in another room.

“I felt connected to my remote teammates and close to my family at the same time.

It was just a single moment, but I felt a lot of joy.” — Reilly O’Connor, Customer Success.

Play with puns.

“I love our penchant for puns at Aha! — especially between the marketing and product teams.” — Rose Smith, Marketing.

Put it on paper.

“At the start of every work day, I like to write my to-do list on paper.

I love having solid goals to achieve.

“It brings me joy and satisfaction at the end of the day when I see all of my to-dos scratched off with bright orange ink.” — Ashley Thompson, People Success.

Whether you find satisfaction in a personal ritual or a shared team joke, it does not really matter — significance is personal.

What is important is that it is something you value and store away in your memory.

Happiness is infectious.

When you feel greater joy and connection at work, so will those around you, and there is nothing small about that.

*Brian de Haaff is the Chief Executive of cloud-based software company Aha! He can be contacted on Twitter @bdehaaff.

This article first appeared on the Aha! company website.

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