Do you want to learn how to be happier at work? Here are 10 simple things that you can do that are proven to work.
Eat Healthy At Work
The link between what you eat and how you feel is strong, but many people aren’t fully aware of it.
Foods that are high in sugar will cause us to crash, and have even been shown to be linked to depression. Many of us also eat too quickly.
What you want to practice instead, is what’s called mindful eating. Mindful eating is when you eat slowly, enjoying every bite of the healthy food.
In a review of 21 studies on mindful eating, published in the journal Obesity Reviews1 in 2014, 86% of the studies reported less binge eating and less emotional eating when mindful practices were applied.
A 2014 study2 of more than 4,000 students in New Zealand found that a high-quality diet was associated with better mental health, and a low-quality diet was associated with poor mental health.
Exercising regularly is probably the easiest thing you could do to feel consistently happier.
The good news is; you only need 20 minutes of activity to start feeling better.
Another interesting fact is that research has shown that exercising is what’s known as a “keystone” habit, meaning daily exercise can help you achieve growth in all other areas of your life.
You’ll notice that once you start exercising, you’ll want to eat healthier, you’ll be more productive, and you’ll sleep better.
The key to exercising regularly is to build it as a habit into your life.
Research on how to build habits suggests two things:
- Start so small that it’s ridiculously easy to do
- Make it insanely easy for you to get started
When Stanford professor BJ Fogg talks about building the habit of flossing your teeth, he says to start by flossing only one tooth.
This seems so ridiculously easy that it would be silly not to do it. Once you’ve gone that far, you’re more likely to finish.
Similarly, you want to avoid any hurdle in getting started with exercise, so doing something like putting your gym clothes and shoes right next to your bed can help.
That way, when you wake up in the morning, everything is right there for you, so there’s no reason to not do it.
Give Feedback To Your Company
Too many employees are scared to give feedback to their company.
This is a major problem; a ton of good ideas (and money) is being left on the table because of a lack of communication.
In a Harvard Business Review article about self-censorship, researchers looked into why employees don’t speak up at their companies.
In our interviews, the perceived risks of speaking up felt very personal and immediate to employees, whereas the possible future benefit to the organization from sharing their ideas was uncertain. So people often instinctively played it safe by keeping quiet. Their frequent conclusion seemed to be, “When in doubt, keep your mouth shut.”
An important lesson for leaders here is that you need to be actively inviting employees to submit their feedback.
Go For A Walk
Similar to how exercise makes us feel happier, going for a 20-minute walk can have long-lasting effects on our happiness.
Ideally, you would go for a walk outside somewhere where there is trees or water. Nature calms us down, our brains are hard-wired to enjoy the calm of the countryside.
Researchers think this is because we spent so much time as humans living in rural areas, has caused our brains to want, and embrace, nature.
Many people (myself included) go for walks as a way to reduce stress. When we’re less stressed, we’re happier.
Research has shown that walking puts us in a calmer state of mind, almost like meditation.
Write A Thank You Email
In an article for Psychology Today, Shawn Achor writes about ways you can be happier in your life.
One of his tips:
Write one, quick email first thing in the morning thanking or praising a member on your team. This significantly increases your feeling of social support, which in my study at Harvard was the largest predictor of happiness for the students.
I’d recommend everyone watch his TED talk on The Happiness Advantage:
It’s one of my favorite TED talks and is both funny and informative.
“If you correct your mind, the rest of your life will fall into place.” ~Lao Tzu
Meditation is by far the most powerful way to increase your happiness. That inner reflection and calming that meditation brings has significant effects on your happiness.
The biggest reason that researchers are so excited with meditation is because it’s been found to increase our happiness baseline.
One of the most interesting pieces of research in neuroscience is how people can return to their happiness baseline after a life-changing event.
There was research done which found that when someone won the lottery, they experienced a “high” for about a year, and then it started to taper off, and they would return to their happiness baseline.
Even more interesting, was when someone had experienced a car accident and became paraplegic, they experienced an incredible dip in their happiness, but then after about a year and a half, returned to their happiness baseline.
It’s amazing to think how this could be possible after such a life-changing event, but the research found that events like that don’t change much of our outlook on life in the long run.
Meditation however, has been found to increase someone’s happiness baseline, making them much happier long-term.
Have A Personal Retrospective
This is a very interesting idea.
In the agile methodology, one of the key parts is at the end of a “sprint” (usually two weeks of work), you’re supposed to have a retrospective to see what went well and what could be improved with the work done for that week.
Imagine agile methodology applied to your life: quick iterations to reach your goals and dreams a lot quicker.
The idea is to pick a period of time (let’s say two weeks), and look back from a personal perspective. What went well, what could be improved, etc. Write it down.
Simply writing these things down is powerful, mainly because we can look back on it in the future and reflect. The same way that looking at old pictures gives us a feeling of warmth, looking at your thoughts from the past can bring back good memories.
Give Time To Help Others
When you give your time to help others, you feel less time-constrained. This seems crazy because you have less time for yourself, but ultimately it makes you feel more confident in your work.
The most successful (and busiest) people I know always seem to have time to help others, whether it’s other entrepreneurs or coworkers.
The next time your coworker asks you for help, instead of worrying about how you’ll ever finish your to-do list, gladly say yes.
Get To Know Your Colleagues
Officevibe’s infographic about having friends at work is a powerful reminder of how important it is to build those connections at work.
Some of the more interesting statistics:
- 70% of employees say friends at work is the most crucial element to a happy working life.
- 58% of men would refuse a higher paying job if it meant not getting along with coworkers. 74% of women said the same.
- +25% increase in employee morale and productivity for simple things like larger lunch tables.
We need social support in life; coworkers can help us achieve that. Managers should be encouraging team-building, and creating an environment for those friendships to foster.
Something as simple as eating lunch with them a few times a week or even playing some office games can help form those bonds that will ultimately make everyone more productive.
Keep A Gratitude Journal
It’s important to take a step back and remind yourself what you’re thankful for in life.
Everyone has bad days and frustrating moments, myself included. But no matter what happens each day, if you think about something you’re grateful for, there is not a day that goes by without specifically thinking about something positive.
It’s a simple habit that has incredible effects. Keeping a gratitude journal has been shown to lower blood pressure, give you a stronger immune system and make you sleep longer.
How Do You Stay Happy At Work?
Do you have any tips for staying happy at work? Share them with us in the comments!