Lessons from The Happiness Advantage: How to be Happier at Your Job
September 28th, 20153 Min read
Shawn Achor’s popular book The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work focuses on the idea that happiness leads to success, not the other way around.
While you may assume you’ll be happier once you get that promotion or simply make more money in your job, you’ll find more success by being positive in your current role than sacrificing joy in pursuit of the next big thing.
Easier said than done? Here are five ways to be happier at work now.
1. Make an effort to be pleasant in the morning
You may not be a morning person, or you may have days when everything has gone wrong before you even arrived at work. Regardless, putting a smile on and, if you have to, “faking it ‘til you make it” can set the tone for the entire work day. You’ll set a happier mood for your coworkers and be able to start the day with a clean slate — and you’ll be more productive if you employ an “I got this” attitude when you dive into the day’s to-do list.
2. Stick to a schedule
It’s easy to get down on yourself when you grab your coat at the end of the day and realize you accomplished only a portion of what you wanted to. Avoid this by making a short checklist each morning with the absolute priorities, and stick to it as much as you can. If you know a project can’t be completed in one day, break it into chunks and add other smaller tasks to your list to check off as well. It’s satisfying to feel you made a difference, even if you didn’t make a major dent in your workload.
3. Reward yourself for a job well done throughout the day
Sitting at your desk for eight straight hours a day spells disaster for both your physical and mental health. If you find yourself getting overwhelmed with the sheer number of tasks in front of you, try setting time limits and subsequent rewards. For example, you might answer important emails for 30 minutes and then reward yourself for the uninterrupted time by sitting outside for a few minutes with a fresh cup of coffee. Distractions are imminent, but setting specific, time-bound goals can help you plow through your day and feel a sense of accomplishment when you earn whatever reward you set for yourself.
4. Get some exercise
It would be ideal if you could take a 30-minute jog at lunch or ride your bike to and from work, but you may not have that luxury. Even if you’re pressed for time, squeeze in extra minutes to get your blood pumping. Take the stairs instead of the elevator when you leave for lunch. Use a smaller water bottle so you’re forced to walk to the kitchen or drinking fountain to refill it. Choose a printer across the office from you to log extra steps when you need to pick up your copies. Even getting up for a few minutes throughout the day can help clear your mind and reenergize you when you feel you’ve hit a wall.
5. Create an inviting workspace
Your desk shouldn’t make you feel depressed when you come into work, and if it does, it’s time to make some changes. Shred or recycle unnecessary paperwork you have lying around, wash and put away dirty dishes, wipe up a dusty workspace and restock your dwindling office supplies. Beyond cleaning your desk, make sure you surround yourself with items that make you happy, such as photos of family or friends, vibrant calendars, gifts from favorite coworkers and inspirational thoughts.
These tips can help you be more positive at work and, in turn, help you achieve the career goals you’ve been aspiring to. Check out “10 Ways to Keep Your Staff Engaged at Work” for more ideas on creating an inviting workplace.
Lindsay Wilcox is a communication professional with experience writing for the healthcare and entertainment industries as well as local government. When she's not circling typos, she's enjoying fish tacos and hanging out with her family.