The average person works 40 hours a week for the majority of every year. If you do the math, you'll find that time we spend at work accounts for about 40% of every year. That is a lot of "now" moments in your life, so you probably want to find ways to enjoy them!
If you struggle to feel engaged and excited at your place of work, you are certainly not alone. Millions of people around the world are discontented with their jobs, but that doesn't mean you are trapped. You may be surprised at the variety of ways in which you can improve your level of happiness at work so you can enjoy more of your time on planet earth!
You may want to start by becoming fully aware of exactly what it is that is making you unhappy in your workplace. Without an honest look at what is bugging you, you will simply be swatting at phantoms in the dark.
Take a look at these tips and see if they resonant with you. Applying them just might lead you to some clarity on how you can be happier at work.
Practice an attitude of gratitude. Yes, it is a cliche', but things become cliche's because they are often repeated. We hear this time again because...well...it's true! When you laser in on what is working, and away from what you think is missing, your brain releases hormones and neurotransmitters that trigger feelings of contentment and peace. Feeling grateful for the parts of work you enjoy can improve your overall mood in your place of work. Better living through chemistry!
Make a Commitment. Jobs are like romantic relationships. If you are always thinking about leaving, it is hard to discover the potential that may be hiding in there. If you know for sure that you are quitting today, then get in there and resign. I support you! But if you are still on the fence and have one foot out of your job, it will be impossible to enjoy being there. That mental posture will demand that you be continually unsatisfied in order to sustain itself. Commitment creates better results, which in turn improves your satisfaction with your work.
Make human connections. People are social creatures, so making personal connections with the folks you work with is an easy way to spark some daily joy. Just be sure to keep it professional. But no creepy stuff, okay?
Embrace team building. Team-building activities are fun, and they create a positive work environment, so keep sending your boss links to places like FaceTheMusicBlues.com and other unique team-building organizations.
Recognize and learn to work with difficult coworkers. Let's be honest; the free-range Cray Cray are everywhere. But did you ever notice how some of the people you think are nuts are not perceived that way universally? If you find yourself interacting with a particular coworker or boss who tends to deplete your happiness, consider exploring what it is about their personality that has set you off. Maybe they remind you of someone you are ready to have a healing with. Maybe they remind you of a secret part of yourself that you have not forgiven? People who drive us to thoughts of homicide are mini personal growth miracles in waiting. Don't be a robot to your triggers.
Dismiss drama. Do your best to stay out of any office-related drama; you are sure to have your own entertaining drama after 5 pm. And for God's sake, don't bring your drama to work with you. Leave it in the parking lot.
Keep an open mind. Your job and tasks are bound to change over time. Changes are common in a growing workplace; embracing them with an open mind can turn change from stressful feelings of dread to a new way of doing things that ultimately make your job even better.
Add some personality to your space. Adding a few things to your workspace that give you some positive "mana" or "spiritual energy" is a great way to boost happiness throughout the day. Just don't go overboard; you are not an interior decorator for the office (unless, of course, you ARE, in which case, my bad.)
Mmmm Snacks! Nothing adds a little extra joy to your day, like a bite of your favorite snack. The sense of taste is a great attitude ally. Keep a small stash of your favorite munchies as a pick-me-up when you have tough days.
Allow the stressful tasks. Stress is normal and actually desired (people with zero stress tend toward depression). If you are hoping for a job that has no stressful moments, the job you are looking for is Person Who Lives On Top of Mountain and Meditates. Every rewarding job comes with challenges, like public speaking and tight deadlines. Being asked to stretch beyond our comfort level creates new neuropathways and makes us smarter. If certain levels of stress seem to be turning toxic instead of motivating, explore ways to address it so you can better cope in the workspace.
Practice mindfulness. "Mindfulness" is one of those weird words that mean the opposite of what they sound like. You don't want a mind that is full. You want to have moments throughout your day (as many as you can get!) where your focus is on your sense of awareness—simply knowing that you are an alive sentient being. Period. No stories. No narration. No cinema in the cranium or radio in the head. Meditation and other relaxing awareness techniques are direct pathways to the joy that is hidden in your everyday work life.
Share a laugh. Humor brings people together and increases happiness. Why? Endorphins. Yup, more brain chem fun. Just be sure to acknowledge that we are going through a global correction from mean-spiritedness and division, and your humor is going to have to be appropriate for the workplace.
Set goals. We are wired for achievement. But we need metrics in order to feel that "win." Set targets for yourself that feel like a stretch but are not too pie in the sky, that you are set up for failure. Set aside periodic times to measure how it is coming along. The desire to accomplish your goals will help you look forward to spending time at work.
Celebrate achievements. Every achievement matters, so treat it that way. Even small celebrations of workplace accomplishments will drive your commitment and create joy.
Get engaged. Offer to take on new tasks that excite you. This will show initiative and add some variety to your workday.
Contribute to the happiness of others. Happiness is contagious, so when you help your coworkers enjoy their day, you will enjoy your day more too. Try it as an experiment: silently choose someone at work to "invite" to a little happiness party you are having and notice how it makes you feel while you are engaged in it.
Suggest ways to grow positive company culture. If you feel that your company is lacking an uplifting company culture, then consider bringing up constructive ideas to human resources. But try not to come from a "we have to fix this hellscape of a company Julie!" and more out of a voice of enthusiasm.
Step outside. If your lunch is long enough, take some time to step outside and refresh. The natural world has an arresting power to reset our attitude. Sunlight, the smell of a breeze, the sounds of birds, and the simply liveliness of the planet remind us of what exists outside of work.
If it is time to quit, quit! Working on yourself and discovering ways to be happy no matter where you are is not the same thing as being a doormat. Sometimes quitting is the best option, and that is completely okay. Jobs are essential for most of us, but money can't buy you happiness. If you can honestly say that you have exhausted all of these tips and you still are spending 40% of your waking hours miserable, it is time to move on.
Set yourself up for happiness. Leaving an unhappy workplace should be followed by a new job where you are happy. To avoid added stress, get clear about what you are looking for in a new job before you completely leave your current job. Ask yourself what the "soul lessons" were from this past experience and make a determination to move up, not over.
Finding happiness in your work is completely possible. That happiness may exist in your current work with the addition of commitment and gratitude, or it may exist in a completely new workplace. Wherever you find happiness, be sure to embrace it because this is not the rehearsal for your life; it is the real thing, and you deserve to enjoy all of the time you spend at work!