Science Says You Can Choose to Be Happy — Here Are 5 Ways To Do It At Work

Happy at work


Taylor Tobin
Taylor Tobin1.84k

While genetics do play a role in our natural abilities to find happiness, psychologist and author Sonja Lyubomirsky writes in her book The How of Happiness that a full 50 percent of our capacity for joy comes from active choices we make. She produces scientific evidence indicating that we can invest our energy in projects and relationships that bring us authentic happiness — and this proves true in the workplace as well as at home. 

Read on for five useful tips to help you find greater satisfaction and enthusiasm with the time you spend on the clock.

1. Offer help to your colleagues when you’re able.

In their overview of Lyubomirsky’s findings, Inc. determined that “While giving is usually considered unselfish, giving can also be more beneficial for the giver than the receiver: Providing social support may be more beneficial than receiving it.”

This principle may apply to social situations, but it also bears significance in workplace interactions. If you see a colleague in need of assistance with a project and you have the bandwidth to lend support, don’t hesitate to offer a helping hand. After all, as Inc. points out: “You can always control whether you offer and provide help. And that means you can always control, at least to a degree, how happy you are -- because giving makes you happier.”

2. Stay motivated and focused on your career aspirations.

Even if you really enjoy the job you currently hold, it’s always helpful to stay connected to your career-related goals. However, as Inc. cautions, “goals you don't pursue aren't goals, they're dreams, and dreams make you happy only when you're dreaming.”

Therefore, you’ll gain greater satisfaction from checking in with yourself on a regular basis, figuring out actionable steps- like a training course, a sit-down meeting with your manager, or a project proposal- that you can take to bring you closer to your aspiration, and giving yourself permission and momentum to make them happen. 

3. Ask your boss for assignments that play to your strengths.

Regardless of seniority level, almost every employee will, at some point, find herself assigned tasks by her boss that she’d rather not complete. This goes with the having-a-job territory...but that doesn’t mean that you can’t throw your hat in the ring for enjoyable assignments that suit your skill set. 

Inc. puts it like this: “Everyone has at least a few things they do incredibly well. Find ways to do those things more often. You'll be a lot happier. And probably a lot more successful (in whatever way you choose to define success.)”

4. Develop a friendly rapport with your coworkers.

Of course, it’s completely acceptable to separate your social life and your work life; there’s no rule dictating a need to be best friends with your colleagues. And, according to Inc., forging a smaller number of stronger friendships, whether at work or in your personal life, generally leads to greater happiness than accruing a massive number of casual acquaintances.

However, it’s still in your best interests to maintain warm, convivial relations with your coworkers. You spend a significant portion of your time at work; why not establish connections that, while perhaps not super-deep or long-lasting, at least make your day-to-day experiences a bit more pleasant? Plus, staying on good terms with your colleagues will prime you for more desirable projects and leadership positions in the future. 

5. Try to pinpoint aspects of your job that bring you satisfaction aside from your compensation.

Money represents a major reason for striving for career advancement...and for good reason. However, Inc. encourages readers to remember that “money is important. Money does a lot of things. (One of the most important is to create choices.) But after a certain point, money doesn't make people happier.”

On a similar note, working solely for the paycheck may inhibit your overall happiness during the 40+ hours a week you spend at the office. If possible, seek out other reasons to feel stimulated and energized at work, whether they be challenging projects, opportunities for training and skill-building, close friendships with colleagues or clients, or other aspects of your job that excite you and keep you engaged.


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