The ancient Egyptians asked two questions on their deathbed: Did you bring joy? Did you find joy?
These are the same questions that author and consultant Mazzy Cameron starts her own day with, too. “I had a religious teacher tell me that joy could be as simple as waking up and realizing that you get another day on planet Earth,” she said. “Joy is the highest energetic state we can experience. And for us not to experience it regularly means we’re not fully alive.”
In her forthcoming book, Hacking Joy: The Playbook, Cameron teaches us how to come alive, reboot our energy, and help empower a new world. She advocates for individuals to up their frequency to the highest there is—joy.
“For any organization or team to help people operate in a higher frequency is a dream state because things come more easily,” Cameron said. “It becomes more of a flow than a grind.”
According to a global report from Workday, workers are reporting record-high burnout rates. It’s no wonder as the three leading burnout risk indicators are worse for many in key roles and industries: fulfillment of work, energy levels, and connectedness.
Cameron feels the pandemic has made it even harder for people to get there as they continue to hold a lot of the heavy energies of that experience. So what can we do to grab more joy in the everyday—and often mundane—course of work and life?
Perspective for all
When you feel less positive about your work, Cameron advises us to reconnect with what brings us joy. We may need to get creative with our efforts too. For example, she thought they should get creative when her sister, who loved to travel, couldn’t explore during the first few years of the pandemic.
Cameron’s suggestion: Take a taxi and ask the driver to put on their favorite global music and get ready to reconnect with the feeling of freedom that travel can bring.
Two steps to grab more joy
Cameron also offers us a two-step process for grabbing more joy in your day. Step one is the awareness that joy is an energetic zone, and we must work to stay close to its level. Step two is allowing the energy that wants to express itself. Releasing these repressed feelings is the key to preventing future triggers that poke at that pent-up petulance. She suggests journaling or a boxing class to help express the repressed.
Creating an environment that allows humans to thrive
Cameron warns that negative feelings like despair, shame, and guilt may arise for us at any time. But just because we experience different emotions doesn’t mean we should allow them to set up an emotional basecamp in their honor. Instead of putting up camp and staying awhile, we should process our emotions and listen to what they’re telling us.
A word of caution to organizations: the road to joy at work is paved with consistent actions. Companies looking to send their employees to a one-hour training to promote joy, only to return their employees to their toxic environment will fail fast. “It’s up to a company and its leaders to create the atmosphere that’s equally energizing,” she advises.
The role of a leader in finding joy at work
“As a leader, everything you say and do is amplified,” explains Cameron. Giving employees a north-star mission or goal to work on is a productive idea. But leadership supporting the initiative must embody what they’re asking for, too. “If you want to see an energy of aliveness, and you’re walking around on your 200th cup of coffee without a smile on your face, you are not going to cultivate that,” she said.
Cameron suggests the practice of reserving five minutes before your next meeting to ground yourself and prepare for the conversation. Whether it’s a challenging topic or not, preparing an atmosphere where others feel safe and secure is the top role they play for their team.
Neuroscience says: “towards state” is your goal
Cameron reminds us of the neuroscience view of an away state and towards state (pdf). When you’re in an “away state,” you’re moving away from a situation or contracting from your work or people. On the other end is a “toward state,” where our brain is ready to take in our environment, reflect, and then act. This may be the most freeing advice Cameron gave, as it’s up to the individual to work as often as possible in their toward state, moving closer and closer to joy.
“It is the responsibility of leaders to do everything in their power to create an atmosphere where people can thrive and express themselves,” said Cameron. “And it’s an individual’s responsibility to accept the invitation and lean into that.”
MORE STORIES FOR JOY AT WORK
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Send questions, comments, and stories that spark joy to email@example.com. This edition of The Memo was written by Anna Oakes and edited by Gabriela Riccardi.