“Happiness is not something readymade. It comes from your own actions” according to the Dalai Lama. Unfortunately, the French are “suffering from existential gloom”[i] and are, on average, an unhappy and dissatisfied population (graph below). Happiness in the workplace is essential for high productivity and a good working atmosphere. Many people expect a change of job, location or friends to dramatically change their quality of life without looking into their own faults. Review your outlook on life, professional relationships, spending habits and physical health in order to increase your happiness and fulfilment in life and the workplace.
If you have a positive outlook, you will make the best of any job. Optimism in the workplace creates a more comfortable and content environment. View your glass as half full rather than half empty and appreciate what you have in order to avoid negativity.
It is important to feel comfortable in yourself at work. Embrace your own personality and opinions rather than shying away. Build your confidence and self esteem to have a voice that people listen to. Admiration from friends and co-workers will follow along with higher self-respect and happiness.
Complement your confidence and positivity with a smile. According to a recent study[ii], smiling more throughout the day can increase levels of happiness. Furthermore, you will seem more approachable and friendly to co-workers which is essential.
Good relationships at work create a happy environment. Happy people spend significantly more time talking to others in general whereas unhappy people spend much more time alone[iii]. This is because the body “is designed to feel happier when engaged in social interactions”[iv]. Try to find a common ground with colleagues and share interests. With good relationships at the office, you won’t depend on the work itself for a sense of meaning. You’ll find meaning in interactions with the people you care about to elate your mood.
Does money buy happiness? Of course it is essential to ensure you have food on the table and a roof over your head, however after these priorities are taken care of it is not how much money you earn but it is what you do with it that makes us happy. Spending money on other people has a more direct impact on happiness than spending money on yourself[v]. Donate money and time to worthy causes rather than selfish luxuries and begin to feel better in yourself.
Exercise has been shown to ease symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress, thanks to the various brain chemicals that are released that amplify feelings of happiness and relaxation[vi]. A mere 20 minutes of exercise, three days each week will increase your happiness by 10 to 20 percent after six months[vii]. Try walking to work or going for a walk at lunch time to fit in a daily dose. Top this up with a healthy diet and plenty of sleep to give your body and brain the energy it needs to be healthy and happy. If you are middle-aged, aim to get at least eight hours of sleep per night; the young and elderly should try and have nine to eleven hours of sleep per night.[viii]
Don’t put your happiness in someone else’s hands and try to make the changes yourself to increase your quality of life and happiness at work. Priorities may need to be altered to become an even happier person and it may not be an easy decision. However, if you are not the happiest you could be it is essential to make an active effort to change your lifestyle. Remember that happiness is a journey and not a destination[ix] so there is no time to waste.
[ix] Ben Sweetland