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  • Writer's picture Lauren Malach

Three Ways to Be Happier Without Quitting

Quitting isn't an option for everyone who is dissatisfied at work. Timing, circumstances and other factors influence our ability to start over. But whether you stay or go, the following strategies can increase meaning and engagement for everyone.

As strange as it sounds, our happiness at work isn't solely dependent on our job. Sometimes, to feel happier at work, we need to shift our focus outside of it. By finding ways to increase joy and growth in our personal lives, we can create a balance that prevents burnout and enhances our overall well-being.

Over the past few weeks, I've collected articles and podcast episodes that explore three strategies for doing just that. Developing a hobby, investing in our social relationships, and simply noticing moments of delight are surprising ways to counterbalance dissatisfaction at work.

a urban garden in early spring
Hobbies like gardening offer multiple benefits.

Engage In or Find New Hobbies

I've always been fascinated by people with hobbies. My cousin plays in a brass orchestra despite her intense job and small children. A neighbour plays in an amateur rock band and performs a few times yearly. A friend, an aspiring master gardener, spends hours in the community garden after working in her property management business. Hobbies play a significant role in our well-being and growth. Engaging in activities simply for learning and fun allows us to tap into our intrinsic motivations and interests. Once you reach a particular stage in your career, your inherent motivations and interests may stall-- hobbies give you new ways to explore and develop your talents.

As we engage in our hobbies, we can experience a flow state. Flow experiences are moments when we are entirely absorbed in our actions. You lose your sense of self and time. In flow experiences, we learn new skills. Whether you are trying to learn an instrument or improve your golf game, we acquire those new capabilities in moments of flow. This past weekend, I observed my son in a flow state as he practiced skateboarding with his buddy in the schoolyard for three hours. He was utterly absorbed in this activity, and by the end of the morning, he had noticeably improved.

Much like children, adults can find flow in their hobbies. In addition to being avenues of learning and fun, hobbies can be great outlets for stress and frustration. A wise teacher once told me this is called a "two-for." There are two benefits to one activity.

This article on birding reminded me of the benefits a new hobby can bring to our lives.

Do you have a hobby? I'd love to hear about it. If you'd like to share, email me at or share in the comments below. What is your hobby and what does it bring to your life?

A mahjonng game in play.
Pick up a new game. Bonus points if you need other people to play with.

Engage in Hobbies with Others

The only thing better than a hobby is one that includes the presence of other people—another "two-fer." Whether it's soccer or band practice, mahjong or bocci, when you engage in hobbies with a social element, you benefit from skill and relationship development. As the writer shares in this article about taking a trip with his middle-aged soccer club, even introverts can benefit from moving outside their comfort zone- joining with others in a shared pastime.

Have you ever played on a team or been part of a group that plays or learns together? What influence did those experiences have on your well-being?

Notice Moments of Delight

This happiness strategy is accessible to us all. A few weeks ago, I heard the poet Ross Gay interviewed on "Ideas," a CBC Radio show. In it, he discusses his book The Book of Delights. This collection of essays reminds us that looking around and noticing moments of delight can bring joy and increased meaning to our lives. Savouring the moments that delight us, though they may be as small and seemingly insignificant as a child smelling a dandelion, makes us feel connected to something larger than ourselves. When the world feels broken, noticing delight can be both grounding and transcendent.

An image of a child's shadow in a joyful pose.
A delightful moment can buoy your spirit.

When you've had a long, challenging day at work, noticing a moment of delight can be an antidote that lifts your spirit and affirms faith in humankind. Next time you have a rough day, go for a walk (ideally without your ear pods) and see what you notice that brings you delight.

Challenge: spend the next 72 hours looking for moments of delight. What struck you? What made it delightful?

If you have a chance to read either of these pieces or listen to the radio interview, please share your reactions. Email me at or share in the comments below.

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