Are you happy in your job? If you are, you are one of the lucky ones: according to a Gallup poll published in Forbes, unhappy workers outnumber happy ones by two-to-one. Sadly, 24% of workers worldwide are “actively disengaged”—they hate their jobs. And only 13% are engaged by their work, feeling fulfilled and making a contribution. If you are looking for a better job, or are seeking your calling, a heart-centered shift can help.

When you are stuck in a job that you really don’t enjoy, you have basically three choices:

  1. Suck it up, hate it, and wait for retirement. Which is what a lot of people clearly do in our society, but it seems to me to be a waste of some of our best years. Really when you consider the amount of time we spend at work versus doing other things while awake, work takes the lion’s share of our lives. So spending all that time hating what we’re doing is probably not a good ingredient for creating a meaningful, joy-filled life of purpose.
  2. Re-frame how you view your work. You can focus on the irritating things at work (obnoxious boss, weird colleagues, not enough pay for the time you put in). But you can turn all that around and look at the—I hate to say it, but really, look at the bright side. When I had my first job (which I hated with all my might) my supervisor had a sign in her cubicle that stated “attitude is everything.” I found it irritating. But she had a point. When I stop to consider the many blessings I had back then I’d like to reach back through time and shake that unhappy young me. My job gave me a chance to learn so many things: to type really fast, use computers really well, and how the stock market works (OK, I still don’t really get it); to work in downtown Baltimore, the world’s best city, and walk around the harbor during lunch breaks; friendship and mentorship with great colleagues; meaningful memories and life lessons that I still cherish; the opportunity to see Bill Gates up close and in person (even if he didn’t make eye contact). If I had focused on what I liked and what I wanted more of, instead of focusing on what I hated and what I wanted to get away from, I could have leveraged that first job into a satisfying career, and not have gone home every day and cried. But I did what I did. And I’m sharing this in the hope that you’ll do better.
  3. Find a new job. It can sound like mission impossible if you spend a lot of time focusing on the negative statistics of current employment trends. But there’s always a better way of looking at statistics, and it’s important to remember that you aren’t a statistic. You have some unique gift to bestow on the world. There is something that you are uniquely in a position to contribute, because of the talents you came with and the experiences you have had. Find it. The way to find it is through your heart. What are the things you do that make your heart sing? What kinds of things do you do that have you lost in time—you may not notice hours ticking by; you may even forget to eat. If you’ve had that kind of experience, take it as a hint: this is your calling. Find a way to do more of that. Consider how you might be able to make a living doing that thing that you love to do. The Universe has your back. Once you realize that, all you have to do is show up.

There is a quote circulating around on Facebook, attributed to the Dalai Lama. It says “Be happy. It feels better.” That sounds like great advice to me! A shift in attitude, or a shift in job—both can be the path to happiness when you are unhappy at work. Which shift will you choose?