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How to Be Happy at Work, According to Science

Topics: Career Advice
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The average person spends more than 90,000 hours at work over the course of a lifetime. So, wouldn’t it be nice to be happy at work as much as possible?

It’s not frivolous to enjoy your workday. It’s actually a very serious and worthwhile goal.

After all, happy employees work more effectively, creatively and collaboratively, according to research — all of which could do wonders for your career.

So, why not turn your attention toward trying to be happier at work? Here are a few quick tips that could help.

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1. Take responsibility for your happiness

If you want to be happier at work, the first thing you’re need to do is to take responsibility for your own moods and emotions. The reason for this relates to something called locus of control.

The big idea here is that some people believe that most of what happens to them in life is their own doing. However, others believe that most of what happens in life is beyond their control.

For example, let’s say you’re late for work. One approach would be to blame the traffic jam, the alarm clock, or maybe the kids. But, someone who has an internal locus of control feels responsible for the lateness, feeling instead that they should have left more time.

You might think that owning the problem would make you feel worse. However, just the opposite seems to be true. Science has shown that having an internal locus of control helps people to be happier while an external one can hold people back and make them feel disempowered.

Switching your perspective, and tuning into an internal locus of control, could help you to feel more capable and more in control of your own life and emotions.

The average person spends more than 90,000 hours at work over the course of a lifetime. So, wouldn’t it be nice to be happy at work as much as possible?Click To Tweet

2. Have friends at work

Having friends at work will help you to enjoy your job more, plain and simple. Seventy percent of employees say that having friends at work is the most crucial element to having a happy work-life. And one-third of adults say they that they’ve met at least one of their closest friends at work.

Office friendships correlate with happiness and with engagement and productivity. So, cultivating your workplace friendships is a win-win for you and your employer.

3. Don’t skip vacations

There are all kinds of different theories out there about what kind of work-life balance is the most beneficial. There are arguments for finding true balance and for near workaholism. It can be hard to know what to do.

But, no matter what you decide is best for you, one thing is clear. You’d benefit from taking vacations once in a while. Even if you love to throw yourself into your work entirely, having the opportunity to reset and recharge can help you to be more productive.

The occasional break allows you to come up with fresh ideas and approaches to problems, and it should give you a little mood boost, too. So, structure your days however works best for you. But, don’t skip vacations.

4. Let go of perfectionism

Some people complain about being a perfectionist in a way that lets you know they’re also sort of proud of it. However, it’s really not a good thing to be a perfectionist at all.

This approach to life and work can cause you to beat yourself up over your mistakes rather than use them as opportunities to grow. You’re not helping anyone, especially not yourself, if you can’t learn from your mistakes.

So, don’t fall into self-destructive patterns by expecting the impossible. Having realistic expectations will definitely help you to be happier.

5. Relish the good times

People have different dispositions. A difficult workday that would roll off of one person’s back might be really hard for someone else to process and move past. No matter what side of the spectrum you lean toward, learning to thoroughly enjoy and appreciate the good times can help.

“Our days at work, as in life, will rarely be uniformly pleasurable,” Dr. Emiliana Simon-Thomas, a happiness researcher at UC Berkeley, told Fast Company. “Such times do exist. When you find them, appreciate and cherish those stretches.”

Simon-Thomas recognizes that this is often easier said than done. “More often than not, workplaces are pressured and challenging,” she adds. But it’s “those who can laugh at their foibles, be mindful, advocate for their own ideas, and dwell on what has gone well [who] will thrive on those challenges.”

Tell Us What You Think

What do you do to feel happier at work? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.


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