ARE there times in your life when you wished you had more autonomy in your job? Or wished for an improved lifestyle?

All these are possible just by empowering yourself. Research suggests that empowerment is one of the best stress-busters.

Your health tends to improve when you feel empowered because you have more energy, think better and more creatively. The important question then is how you can become more empowered as an employee.

During the vacation last September, I gave a three-hour presentation on how teachers can reduce tension. About 5,000 keen participants turned up.

My directive was to teach them the secrets of happiness by staying empowered, motivated in their profession and not get burnt out even when under pressure.

I shared with them seven keys to happiness, which all employees will find relevant:

1. Love your job

Do what you love and get paid for it. If your livelihood depends on doing what you enjoy every day, then that is a happy situation.

2. Stay optimistic

Focus on the pleasant things in your life, such as the perks you enjoy or satisfaction you get out of your job.

This keeps you focused on the positive aspects of your life. Concentrating on the one person or thing that drives you mad will make you feel down and depressed.

3. Be honest

Communicate openly and honestly with everyone. This may be a challenge in a polite society like Singapore where everyone is brought up to respect one's elders, boss or leader.

Yet most people, bosses included, prefer others to be frank and truthful to them.

For instance, when you tell your boss that you do not particularly enjoy an aspect of your work, but will continue doing it till you find someone else to take over, it is likely that your boss will appreciate you for doing something you do not like and for taking the initiative to find a replacement. This is a win-win situation.

FedEx employees are often allowed to "do what it takes" to get a parcel to its destination on time. They have the best employee stay rate in the Asia-Pacific region because employees are empowered to do what is most appropriate for each customer and situation.

4. Soak in positivity

Surround yourself with people you admire and respect. They can help you stay upbeat and bring out the best in you.

5. Chase your dreams

Ask yourself whether your job is what you have always wanted to do. If it isn't, identify your course in life. Is your current job a stepping stone to achieving your dream or are you moving in the opposite direction?

6. Expand yourself

Develop new skills, get a hobby or try out something new that gets your heart pumping.

7. Have fun

Do you spend time doing the things that make you smile? I asked the audience of teachers to raise their hands if they enjoyed dancing. Many said they did, but none raised their hands when I asked them how many had danced that week.

Unlike them, I dance every day. When I go about my chores, I put some music on and dance around the house.

To be happy, you need fun, laughter and balance in your life. If you do not spend time doing what you enjoy, then how else can you find happiness?