Working Wounded: Can You Be Happier at Work?

Dear WOUNDED: Work is a grind. This sounds really dumb, but is there something that I can do to make work less painful?

ANSWER: I'll admit, I'm a big fan of Peter O'Toole. From "Lawrence of Arabia" to "The Stunt Man," I think he's one of the greatest actors of all time. Recently I saw him in an interview in which he was asked his favorite role. His response was perfect: "The next one."

I couldn't come up with a better way to approach your job than feeling like your best work still lies ahead. Yet, according to my e-mail, that feeling is rare in today's workplace where so many of us are beaten down and feeling overwhelmed. I've listed three dos and a don'ts for being happier at work, below. For more, check out M.J. Ryan's book "The Happiness Makeover" (Broadway, 2005).

DO accentuate the positive. I'm a news junkie. But recently I noticed that watching the news before I went to bed each night not only bummed me out at the time, but I would also wake up with a scowl on my face the next morning.

These days I'm very conscious of the music, movies, books that I imbibe, especially right before bedtime. I'm not saying that we all have to be all happy, all the time, but it does make it easier to be upbeat when you are surrounded by upbeat messages.

DO reward yourself regularly. I'm a big believer in rewards -- not necessarily pints of Ben and Jerry's and six-packs, although I've done my share of both. But work can be such a grind that you have to be nice to yourself on a regular basis.

Look for opportunities to treat yourself with exercise, healthy snacks, time with your hobbies or family and face-to-face meetings with colleagues that you currently communicate with only via e-mail. We all work hard, and it's nice to give yourself a break every once and a while.

DO examine your negativity. As a person who can be on a first-name basis with sarcasm, I've found it's important to look at the times when I feel like my glass is half empty. But there are often times when we don't even realize we're being sarcastic. It's amazing how you can be in a funk and not even realize it.

Sure, we may not see our own funk, but the people we work with are usually clued in to what we're going through. That's why it's important to surround yourself with people who care for you and will level with you.

DON'T be passive. It is easy to go through life with a victim's mentality. If you assume that people are out to get you, chances are you won't be let down. Take control of your job and your relationships, and your disposition will improve.

Follow these tips and you won't have to wait to make your next role your best, you might even be able to salvage the job you're currently doing.

Thought for the Week

"Don't wait for your ship to come in, swim out to it." -- Anonymous

List of the Week

Look who's talking … What TV shows are most talked about at work.

  • "American Idol," 44 percent
  • "Grey's Anatomy," 28 percent
  • None, 21 percent
  • "CSI," 11 percent
  • "House," 9 percent

From: Spherion

Bob Rosner is a best-selling author, speaker and internationally syndicated columnist. He'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic, especially if you have better ideas than he does. His books include "The Boss's Survival Guide" and "Gray Matters: The Work place Survival Guide." Send your questions or comments to him via: publishes a new Working Wounded column every Friday. This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.