How to Be Unhappy At Work

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If you thought you were happy, I have an urgent newsflash for you. You’re not. I don’t care how much you love your job — you’re not happy. At least, you’re not happy enough, and that should make you very unhappy, indeed.

Like you, I thought I was happy, but recently I received an email press release from the American Happiness Association, or, as it’s known to its jolly friends, the AHA.  Frankly, I didn’t know there was an organization established to “raise people’s happiness,” but now that I do know, and now that you know, too, I think it’s clear that we are seriously deficient in our happiness quotients. Or, as I like to call it, happability.

According to the press release, the AHA is a “charitable nonprofit providing science-based education and resources to help people learn and practice sustainable happiness.”

So, no more fleeting moments of  schadenfreude when your best friend at work is laid off, or paroxysms of joy when you see your supervisor choke on a Fig Newton. We’re talking sustainable, non-stop, full-tilt-boogie happiness from the moment you manage to drag your miserable self into work in the morning until the moment you slip out the fire door and head for your daily happiness transfusion at the Kit Kat Klub.

Rest assured the AHA does not leave your happability level to chance. “AHA translates discoveries from half a dozen fields of science into daily happiness actions and tools that everyone can practice,” says Sandi Smith, the organization’s Chief Operating Office and, we can assume, an individual who is much, much happier than the Gloomy Gus who runs your company. “A lot of this information has just been stuck in the science labs until now.”

(If you think it’s surprising that scientists are bottling up the secrets to happiness, you are being naïve. All those aliens the government is hiding in Area 51? From what I hear, they’re laughing all the time.)

The happiness initiative most relevant here is an AHA teleseminar titled, “How to Love Mondays in a Job You Hate.” (The seminar is being held on a Tuesday, a fact that everyone at the AHA was, no doubt, too happy to notice.)

Given the opportunity to “learn coping and striving skills for today’s dysfunctional & government workplaces,” I immediately decided I would virtually attend the virtual meeting. Then I learned I would have to shell out eight very real clamolas. Plus, the timing of the meeting would interfere with “the Kardashians Take Miami.”

Still, from the AHA’s outline, I believe I can see what the harpies of happiness have in mind. For example, one topic will be “How to become a one-person happiness activist and change your entire workplace culture.” I think we all know what this means. It means filling your cubical with furry critters who squeal when you squeeze them, and amassing massive numbers of tiny plaster gnomes who hold placards announcing “I work for cookies.” It also means posters showing photographs of cats clinging to trees by their claws with the headline, “Hang In There,” and t-shirts printed with fun sayings, like “You don’t have to be crazy to work here, but it helps.”

In my experience, the only reaction that “happiness activists” incite is rage. So, if you don’t want to live in constant fear of an angry mob storming your cube — stay a grump. It’s safer.

One workplace happiness tip from the AHA I do fully endorse is to “integrate mindfulness into your daily routine.” Previously, I had been a fan of mindlessness, mostly because I see so much of it at work, but mindfulness, an off-shoot of meditation in which you focus on and accept whatever is happening in the moment, can indeed bring serenity and happiness to your work life, especially if you practice your mindfulness by pulling out a nap mat and putting in three or four hours of highly mindful snoozing before and after, but never during lunch.

If you believe there is insufficient happiness in your work life, or if learning that other people are happier than you makes you absolutely miserable, I suggest you get yourself to the AHA website,, where you can sign up for a wide variety of activities. And if you are unhappy because I made you realize what a glum, depressed individual you are, don’t blame me. I only do it because it makes me happy.


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