Work goes happy


Work goes happy – how to reach the flow?

When and where did you last time feel while working that the current work, the task, the project is just your thing? Did you feel excited and enthusiastic or maybe calm, happy and relaxed? Where you able to use and reach your almost full potential? How positive and energized were you? Was the outcome special and successful? Can you describe the circumstances and the aspects that made all this possible?


Work is an important part of one’s everyday life and at its best can be a source of enthusiasm and wellbeing in life, not merely of income. At worst work can be a burden and result in burnout or bore out. Work can be far more than a job. Although work certainly provides for basic subsistence needs and decent living conditions, it is not its only function. Work is, above all, an activity through which an individual fits into the world, creates new relations, uses his/her talents, learns and grows and even develops an identity and a sense of belonging. Meaningful work makes it possible for a person to develop a sense of identity, worth, and dignity.


In positive psychology, flow is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. Flow is completely focused motivation. It represents perhaps the ultimate experience in harnessing the emotions in the service of performing and learning. In flow, the emotions are not just contained and channeled, but positive, energized, and aligned with the task at hand. The hallmark of flow is a feeling of spontaneous joy, even rapture, while performing a task,although flow is also described as a deep focus on nothing but the activity.


Wellbeing at Work (WBW) can be defined as employees’ physical and mental state, resulting from the appropriate balance of work, environment and leisure time.  Healthy and safe working environment, competent workers and supervisors, meaningful and rewarding tasks are elements that provide for the success of the business as well as life control and wellbeing of an individual.


Individually suitable work load and challenges that match the competence promote health and workability and therefore experience of flow. Work should not be overloading, one-sided, too hard or difficult nor too light, monotonous or easy. Work should match with the individual as far as possible! Unsuitable workload, unreachable goals and too difficult tasks cause various individual symptoms. Diverse assignments, recovery breaks and varying between easier and more demanding tasks are important factors contributing to balanced work load and wellbeing. High individual input can thus be achieved while fatigue and exhaustion are prevented. Sufficient sleep is one of the main factors for proper recovery.


People experience the amount of workload individually. Some feel that continuous multiple changes and new challenges are extremely stressful. For others they might be the source of inspiration. Everyone participating in the working life should ponder the factors causing harmful amounts of workload or demotivation. Discussing these issues with the supervisor, a specialist or a consultant or even with a close friend would be helpful in finding solutions to the individual problems. It is equally important to assess the flow factors that contribute and give strength to the everyday life. It is useful to discuss and share also these positives in the working community. Sources of strength and inspiration can be shared and borrowed from others.

Factors leading to happy work and flow

  • Healthy lifestyle, safe and ergonomic environment and working practices
  • Trust and open working community spirit and relationship with the supervisor
  • Meaningful tasks and experience of esteem
  • Continuous learning
  • Trying to identify personal defenses and having the courage to give them up
  • Encouragement to try new things instead of sticking to safe paths
  • Listening to own feelings in evaluating experiences instead of only the voice of tradition, authority or the majority
  • Taking responsibility and working hard but wisely
  • Have a happy working day filled with flow!


Päivi Rauramo, Specialist, MHS

The Centre for Occupational Safety (TTK)