11 Surefire Ways to Become Happier at Work

1. Look for the positive

When our jobs require us to seek out mistakes and fix errors, our brains become trained to find the negative. So instead, keep an eye out for the positive. Your coworker who held the door open, your new pen that writes so smoothly, that comfortable chair, etc… Merely noticing these small items can boost your happiness.

2. Acknowledge the good stuff

Noticing the good stuff is the first step, and acknowledging it to others increases your happiness even more. Notice, compliment, rinse & repeat. Start with just one per day and you’ll soon be hooked. Bonus: helping someone else become happier makes you feel happier. What have you got to lose?

3. Find a ‘happy’ mentor

You know who I’m talking about. That person who doesn’t get particularly worked up about anything, handles stress with ease, and never freaks out. Observe them. Inquire about these “superpowers” and how you can cultivate them too. They’ll likely share their story, or at least their perspective and a little wisdom to help you.

4. Find a newbie you can mentor

Showing someone else the ropes makes you more aware of your skills and enhances your confidence. It can also help you stay engaged and freshen up your routine. And helping someone because you choose to – not because it was required or asked of you – always brings that warm, fuzzy feeling.

5. Check job postings

If things are really bad at work, it always helps to see what’s out there, right? Perusing the job boards either confirms that you indeed have other options and opportunities, or a rough-looking job market suddenly makes you more appreciative of the spot you’re in. Either way, you feel better afterward.

6. Dream

What would you do, create, build or fix at work if you weren’t limited by time and money? Now take just a little tiny piece of that and implement it. When we have a bigger vision for the work we do it leads to a sense of purpose and meaning. Allow yourself to get inspired and see what happens.

7. Smile

Are you skeptical about this one? Just try it: put a big smile on your face and then try to think of something negative. Could you do them both at the same time? Not naturally.

8. Be nice to you

Eliminate negative self-talk. You may not always notice it, but how often do you mumble to yourself, “I’m so stupid” or “That was a dumb thing to do!” It happens. But putting a stop to it will help your happiness level. Finding a friend or co-worker to join you in this practice can help. There’s nothing quite like hearing your child remind you to “Be nice to yourself, Mom!” when she catches you being critical.

9. Review your fan mail

Research shows that it takes nearly three positive comments to fend off the downer effects of a single negative remark. So reviewing positive notes or kudos you’ve received previously can help keep you balanced and happy. Make a file or archive you can easily review, and fill it with all the positive notes, compliments, and praise you have received.

10. Bring in a treat for your coworkers

Homemade or store-bought, everyone notices when unexpected yummy stuff shows up in the office. Bringing in treats adds a little extra pleasure to the day, and practicing random acts of kindness adds to everyone’s happiness.

11. Express gratitude

You can keep a journal, have a nightly conversation with your family, or just spend a minute in your head. But review a few things that you’re grateful for each day, and why they are important to you. If you’d like to document your gratitude, consider formalizing your feelings on paper, or try a project like this one, which showcases your feelings to share with others. While none of these ideas is earth-shattering, they do work. Any one of them will likely increase your happiness at work if you just give it a try. Action – not knowledge – is what makes a difference. Here’s to being happy! Do you practice any of these? What other happiness-creating habits have I left out?

About the Author

Michelle Agner blogs at Careertopia where she helps her fellow careerists find, excel in, and enjoy careers they actually like.