Not as happy at work as you’d like to be? A few small changes might make a big difference.
The average American will spend 90,000 hours at work over the course of their lifetime. (And that doesn’t include the 100 hours a year that the typical worker spends commuting.) Given that you spend so much of your life working or getting to work, it’s only natural that you’d like to feel OK while you’re there. There are also professional benefits to being in a better mood at the office. You’ll enjoy your job more, form stronger relationships and get more done.
Research has found that being at happy at work makes employees measurably more productive — up to 20% more productive, to be exact. And, for some professionals, like salespeople, it can have an even greater impact; increased happiness has been found to raise sales by as much as 37%. Workplace happiness also encourages better job satisfaction and engagement.
You don’t have to get a new job or take an extended vacation to feel better, either. Simple tweaks to your mindset, approach and habits can help you get there.
Of course, not everything about your job is within your control. There are a lot of external factors at play. You can’t force your manager to give you a raise or make your coworkers or clients easier to get along with. The key is to understand that you probably have more control over your situation than you realize.
Here are a few tips that could help you to feel happy at work:
1. Choose happiness
Simply knowing that you want to be happier is a great first step toward getting there. (You’ll never arrive if you don’t set your sights on a destination.) Make a point to actively choose to be happy at work. Acknowledging and accepting responsibility for your feelings and mood is critical.
Sure, certain circumstances — and other people — have the potential to impact your emotional state. But, at the end of the day, you are responsible for your outlook on life. Think about some of your coworkers. Some are positive types who are generally happy as a baseline, no matter what’s happening around them. And, others are more negative or depressed — again, no matter what’s happening around them.
It’s not always easy, but focusing more on the aspects of your work that you enjoy, rather than dwelling on the negative, goes a long way. Similarly, spending time with coworkers who are positive can help you follow suit. On the other hand, spending time complaining with the less cheerful segment of your workplace population can work against you. Just keep in mind that happiness is, at least to some extent, a choice.
2. Make a friend
Having friends at work can go a long way toward helping you enjoy the time you spend on the job. A Future Workplace/Virgin study, which was reported on by CNBC, found a real link between having workplace pals and overall happiness. Seventy percent of the employees surveyed said that having friends at work was “the most crucial element to a happy working life.” Fifty-eight percent even said they’d turn down a higher-paying job if it meant they wouldn’t get along with their coworkers.
Still, a lot of folks don’t have friends at work. Or, they don’t invest the kind of time and care into those relationships that they might into having friends outside of the office. If you want to be improve your mood, putting a little more time and energy into these workplace friendships could be a great plan. You’ll enjoy some companionship, and maybe even some laughs, on a more regular basis. And, that can go a long way toward helping you feel better.
Plus, having friends at work could benefit your career in all kinds of other ways, too. You’ll likely be more productive and creative as a result. Plus, work friends help to expand your professional network and you never know how that will come in handy further down the road.
3. Take on a new challenge
You might feel like working less, or less hard, could help you to feel happier — and you might be right. Vacations are definitely good for you. And, chronic stress is bad for your health and happiness. However, having an “easy” job isn’t exactly the ticket to a more joyful working life, either. It might actually just leave you feeling lethargic and generally uninspired.
It turns out that taking on fresh challenges at work and learning new things can be a really good way to boost happiness. Sure, there may be some additional stress at the beginning of the process. But in the end, the sense of pride and accomplishment will likely outweigh these drawbacks. Plus, increasing your competency in any kind of way is good for your career and your self-confidence.
Taking on a new challenge, especially one you’re excited about, can be an awesome way to find greater happiness at work.
Looking for a new job? Find out how much you’re worth in today’s job market. Take the PayScale Salary Survey and get a free salary report in minutes.
4. Tidy up
Keeping things neat and organized is good for you, according to science. Researchers have found that people who keep their homes clean are more active and healthier than people who don’t. And, research has also found that clutter can make it more difficult to focus on a task.
Tidying up your space for just a few minutes could give you a quick mood boost when you need it most. You may think that you don’t have enough time to get organized. But, keep in mind that anything you invest into this process will come back to you. You’ll be more productive, and happier, if you feel your workspace is on point.
5. Get more sleep, eat healthier and get regular exercise
Improving your self-care habits and routines can go a long way toward raising your happiness levels at work. You don’t have to do a complete 180 either. If you don’t exercise now, you don’t have to join a gym and start going five times a week. Doing anything to improve your habits can help to boost your mood. Eating healthier, and spending more time and energy on caring for yourself in this way, could be really good for you, too.
One great way to improve your mood during the day is to get more sleep. Getting more sleep can have an almost magical impact on your mood. Researchers have found that people who get enough sleep at night rate their lives as happier than those who don’t. And, not sleeping enough can cause you to feel more negative and be more reactive, whether you’re aware of it or not.
6. Don’t worry about what you can’t control
Work pressure can get pretty intense sometimes, no matter what you do for a living. Finding ways to worry less will obviously go a long way toward helping you feel better. To get started, vow not to worry about things that you can’t control. Granted, this is easier said than done. However, it’s still a worthy goal.
Try to maintain your focus on your own goals and objectives. Invest yourself fully in those aspects of the job where you have control and can make a difference. And, when you find yourself thinking about bigger-picture concerns or something that’s outside of your jurisdiction at work, ask yourself this question: am I the one who should be worried about this? If the problem is beyond your control, then the answer should be a firm no. So, allow that worry to subside and pass from your consciousness, which will get easier with practice.
7. Help someone else
When you’re feeling low, you might feel as though you don’t have the time or energy to invest into helping someone else. If your coworker asks for a hand, you might turn them down, thinking that you need to take care of yourself before you can be helpful to others. But, helping someone else could help you.
Helping others makes you feel good and it helps to build strong and healthy relationships at work, which supports your happiness, too. Additionally, it gets you out of your own head. Instead of thinking about yourself and your problems, you focus on building someone else up and moving them to a better place. That could do wonders for your mood.
The positive impact you make on someone else will likely come back to you in no time. So, if you want to feel happier at work, try doing something to make someone else feel better and see what happens.
Tell Us What You Think
Which of these changes would most help you to be happy at work? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.