This blog will address some specific things you can start doing today to feel more upbeat at work. I’ve pulled from Martin Seligman’s book Authentic Happiness, the field of Positive Psychology and my own experience. This is the first blog in a series of blogs on how to create a happier work life. Implement these 7 ideas to start feeling happy at work right now.

Incorporate Pleasurable Activities into Your Day 

Take a moment and list the things that bring you joy or pleasure. Does taking a walk at lunchtime lift your mood? How about eating lunch with co-workers instead of in front of the computer? Do you enjoy grabbing a coffee after a difficult meeting or sipping tea while on a conference call? Try to think of as many pleasurable activities that you can to sprinkle into your day. Plan these activities out so that you will do at least 2-3 pleasurable activities everyday. List as many as you can and switch them up from day to day to prevent them from growing stale.

Make your Pleasurable Activities Last

You’ve heard of savoring the moment? There’s actually a body of research around the topic of savoring to extend and deepen those pleasurable activities you planned in the previous step. Savoring is the act of putting conscious attention on your pleasurable activities. Very similar to mindfulness, this step involves slowing down to have a full body experience of that cup of tea or conversation. At work we can get into the trap of multi-tasking and running around checking things off the to do list. Try taking some time to slow down and savor the pleasant moments.

Let Go of Past Grievances

Many times when people are unhappy at work, it’s because they are holding onto an injustice from the past. The best thing you can do if this is the case for you, is to let it go. If you don’t let it go, most likely it will continue to fester and your mind will look for more evidence to “prove” why you should be angry. Sound familiar? To turn this around, you will need a strategy to let go of the past and move to a sunnier future. One such strategy is called REACH:

R: Recall the hurtful event in an objective way, trying not to demonize anyone.

E: Empathize with the person who harmed you, seeing things from their perspective.

A: Offer an Altruistic gift of forgiveness. If not appropriate to provide directly to the person with whom you are trying to forgive, an act of service can be offered as a symbol of your forgiveness.

C: Commit to the forgiveness. One way is by writing down in a journal that you are solid in your aim to let this go.

H: Hold onto the forgiveness instead of the pain, making a clear mental stand that this is your real goal.

Practice Gratitude for the Good Things at Work

The research on gratitude for creating positive emotions is fairly powerful. There are several exercises that you can do to achieve this. The easiest one is to buy a gratitude notebook or journal and prior to retiring each night, review the day and think of things that happened for which you are grateful. Then write them in the journal. Aim for five. Be sure to include things at work as well as outside of work. Put some thought into this.  Keep in mind you can be grateful for things that do not appear positive. We can be grateful for challenging situations that are helping us to grow. Try not to churn out the same ones night after night. Just doing this one thing every evening can have a significant impact on your outlook at work.

Create Positive Relationships

Research shows that the happiest people are not the richest, prettiest, youngest, healthiest or the most spiritual. Research shows the happiest people are richly social. They have a strong network of friends and social activities. Many people I speak to who are unhappy at work are isolationists. They are very committed to the work that they do, but don’t have a strong social network at the place they spend most of their time. Take the time to nurture relationships with some positive people at work. Though it takes time to build these relationships, making a conscious effort to schedule time with co-workers or just spend a little more time socializing can add measurably to the pleasure you have at work.

Change Your Mind About That Thing

What’s the one thing that is driving you crazy about your job? Is it a coworker, boss, paperwork, a lousy project? Whatever it is you can apply the Reframe-Rename-Repurpose principle to it. Reframe means to see the person/situation in an optimistic light. In other words, see the silver lining or opportunities that are being missed. Rename is to come up with a new name for the project/person based on the reframing you’ve done (this is usually not made public). Repurpose is to incorporate your new attitude into your relationship/activity to breathe new life into it.

Here’s an example of what one client did to change his mind about a dreaded weekly recurring project status meeting he had to lead. Prior to using this principle the meeting was a boring review of his department projects. He reframed the meeting as time set aside to connect with his team. This increased his pleasure in planning as well as conducting the meeting. He renamed the meeting in his mind “connection time” which was much more appealing than “project status update”. To achieve this new direction for the meeting, he repurposed it by adding a tasteful joke at the top of each meeting and 5 minutes for everyone to share something fun that happened that week. The meeting is now one of the highlights of his week and his team is more cohesive. 

Create a Sustainment Plan

Sometimes we feel so busy and overwhelmed at work that the last thing we feel we have time for is maintaining enjoyment or pleasure at work. We spend so much time at work, we need to make it as enjoyable as we can. In addition, there is a connection between job satisfaction and productivity. So take the time to create a sustainment plan for yourself. Schedule pleasurable activities throughout the day. Put them into your calendar (but make private). Schedule the lunches with coworkers. Take the time to think about how you can Reframe-Rename and Repurpose the undesirable parts of your week into something more enjoyable. Committing to your plan of pleasure, scheduling it and changing up pleasurable activities will increase the likelihood that you feel happier while at work.

Stay tuned for our next blog on creating more flow and meaning at work.

If you need help feeling happier at work, contact Careerfulness for a free consultation.

Written by Pam Farone.