7 Science-Backed Secrets To Be Happier At Work (Starting Today)
Practical Tips To Increase Your Satisfaction And Banish Burnout
Are you happy at work?
If someone asked you this question, what would first come to mind?
Maybe you’d evaluate your current projects in terms of how they fit your skill set. Others may equate job satisfaction with a high salary or the prestige of working for a particular employer.
But studies show that true career happiness is much more complex than the money you make or type of work you do.
However you define happiness for yourself, one truth remains:
Your mental health is as critical — if not more important — to long-term success as the hours you log at the office.
Here are some practical tips you can start using today to increase your career happiness:
1. Turn off Facebook.
Social media can be like a black hole that sucks you in with its endless updates, wasting your time and zapping your focus.
No matter what web browser you use, you can quickly and easily install a tool to quiet your newsfeed or remove it all together. This allows for uninterrupted serenity to think and create — two essential elements for happiness at work.
Consider doing a social media detox for a month to see what impact it has on your overall well-being and productivity. You’ll be amazed by how much more you can accomplish and how much better you feel without the deluge of posts cluttering your desktop (and mind).
2. Define your “why.”
Think about what work means to you and why you do what you do. What we find personally meaningful and how we go about achieving it differs from person to person, but identifying your “why” is key to happiness.
Is your job a means to earning and saving in order travel the world within three years? For others, their drive may be rooted in a broader mission, such as making positive impact for a cause they’re passionate about.
When you feel overwhelmed or unmotivated, ask yourself:
“If I could only share or teach one message to one group of people, what would my message be?”
3. Institute a mandatory laughter policy.
It’s often said that laughter is the best medicine, and it turns out that it’s an effective productivity booster, too.
A good belly laugh can have a soothing neurocognitive effect, flooding your brain with chemicals that reduce the body’s natural stress response.
You could try working a viral BuzzFeed clip into your lunch break or interject a funny quote to lighten the mood during a presentation.
4. Do one good deed.
We’ve all experienced the rush of good emotions that happens when we lend a helping hand to someone else. This pay-it-forward principle holds true in the workplace as well.
A little altruism goes a long way: studies show that happier workers help their colleagues 33% more than those who are unhappy.
Whether it’s taking on some simple tasks for an overwhelmed colleague or leaving yummy treats in the break room, giving back to your team is a surefire happiness hack.
5. Design your own 30-day challenges.
Setting goals increases self-esteem and positively influences our perception of what we’re capable of.
Progressing toward a goal is the gift that keeps on giving — the further you get along the path, the more psyched up and self-disciplined you become.
At the beginning of each month or quarter, devise a challenge for yourself that you can get enthusiastic about working toward, such as:
- a 30-day sprint to complete a big project
- learning a new skill like coding
- taking on a stretch assignment that exposes you new people in the company
6. Replace “what’s wrong?” with “tell me more.”
While it can be a total drag to work with difficult people, it’s something we all deal with.
Keep in mind “MRI” — most respectful interpretation; or giving people the benefit of the doubt and assuming they are coming from a respectful place rather than one of malicious intent.
For example, your cube mate may not even be aware that their annoying pen-tapping habit is driving you up a wall. It’s certainly not part of some grand scheme to drive you nuts.
The next time you find yourself getting frustrated, remind yourself to give your irksome colleague the benefit of the doubt. This change of perspective can do wonders for your mood, shifting your mind to a positive state (not a defensive one).
7. Establish an evening gratitude ritual.
Before you pack up to leave the office each evening, review three things that went well during the day or that you feel grateful about.
This little ritual — no matter how tough the day was — can become something to look forward to and help you end each day on a positive note.
It also steers your brain toward habitual, growth-oriented thinking. As you work to identify three things you’re grateful for (don’t cheat and settle for two!) you’re training your brain to see opportunity in challenging circumstances, rather than allowing it to get stuck in a pattern of negativity.
And of course, don’t forget to express your gratitude to colleagues — chances are your affability will rub off on them, and the workplace will become a more pleasant one.
Melody Wilding teaches human behavior at The City University of New York and is a nationally recognized Master Coach who distills psychological insights into actionable career advice. A licensed social worker trained at Columbia University, she’s helped thousands of professional women and female entrepreneurs master their mindset and emotions for greater success. Melody has worked with CEOs and executives running top startups along with published authors and media personalities.
Originally published at PsychCentral on June 23, 2015.