• Being happy at work makes the day more bearable and is good for your career
  • Create and use simple happiness hacks when you need to pick yourself up
  • Choose happiness consistently and let joy flow
When did happiness become such an elusive thing?

Back when we were kids, the simplest and seemingly smallest of things could provide us with endless joy for days, weeks and even months!

Playing in the backyard, munching on a tasty snack, coloring with crayons, playing with our siblings, skipping stones and riding a bike are just a few examples of simple things that brought joy to us as kids.

And this happiness wasn’t restricted or forced.

It was true boundless joy.

Remember how fucking awesome that was?

Most kids can find joy even in just doing the simplest of things. Because the joy isn’t entirely about fancy or expensive things and circumstances. It’s about a sense of contentment, wonder and excitement - that is their baseline state.

As we grow up, though, things start to change.

We search for happiness more and more outside of ourselves.

We tell ourselves we’ll be happy when we get that job, the perfect life partner, more money, our dream vacation, our ideal weight, blah, blah, blah.

And when we don’t get these things, we feel disappointed, depressed and unhappy.

So, what do we do to counteract this?

We seek out little bursts of temporary satisfaction from things like food, alcohol, drugs, parties, material stuff, spendy weekend getaways and other forms of escapism from our real life.

We keep delaying our happiness and tying it to future outcomes that may not happen, thus denying ourselves achieving happiness in the present moment.

Nowhere is this more clear - and more dangerous - than in our careers.

We spend a huge amount of time at work, and a lot of times, we allow it to play a huge part in how we feel about ourselves and our lives - big mistake.

When we’re working a job we hate or even mildly dislike, it can really bring us down in a big way. We feel like quitting and finding another job that’s more exciting or fulfilling.

While sometimes that is the best course of action, what we need to do is to stop and ask ourselves, “Will a new job really make me happy?”

Or better, “Do I need to find that happiness within me first?”

Creating your own joy is entirely possible and it doesn’t have to involve any tricky techniques or bullshit tactics. In fact, it’s pretty quick and easy to add some joy to your life right this minute.

The great news is, these little hacks aren’t just for work - they can help you to have an overall happier life with a more positive outlook.

Why Happiness at Work Matters

Before figuring out how to create happiness in your working life, you might wonder why you should bother at all.

After all, a job is just a means to an end, right? A way to pay the bills and put food on the table.

Why do you need to be happy while doing it? That’s what weekends and vacations are for, no?


Happiness is actually hugely important in your daily life and specifically in your working life. After all, we spend a full third of our lives working.

But first, what actually is happiness?

There are many different definitions, some focusing on in-the-moment feelings whereas others depict a general attitude.

This definition from UC Berkeley is our favorite, as it allows for a range of other emotions to exist within the experience of being happy.

“We define happiness as an overarching quality of life that is rich in a variety of emotions, even including episodes of anger, sadness, and stress.”

This means that being happy at work is having the ability to experience a whole range of emotions and resolve challenges when they arise.

In fact, this study from the University of California San Francisco shows that happy people are actually more resilient and, therefore, can manage challenges better.

In addition, another study from the University of Maryland found a positive correlation between happiness and creative problem solving, where happiness was proven to be the cause and creativity the effect.

Being happy at work is also great for your career. This study from the University of Warwick found that happy workers are up to 12% more productive than unhappy workers.

With this in mind, it’s no surprise that another study from the University of California Riverside confirmed happiness as a precursor to career success.

Aside from these perks, happiness is just - well, nice.

Nobody wants to be miserable. And even more, nobody wants to be around miserable people.

Being happier at work will make the days brighter and help you build better bonds with your colleagues. But how can you go from being a Debbie Downer to the office fav when your job itself sucks ass?

Here’s how.

17 Simple Ways to Create Joy At Work

There is a popular saying in the New Age spiritual movement that we can create our own reality. It sounds a bit like hocus-pocus bullshit if we’re being honest, but there is some truth behind it.

No matter what’s going on at work or how we feel about our jobs, there are simple, easy tricks we can use to give ourselves an instant boost of dopamine and improve our mood significantly.

1. Start the Day Well

Your morning mood affects the rest of your working day. Starting the day off right sets you up for a day of positivity and productivity.

Now obviously, we’re not all morning people so some of us have to work harder at having a good start to the day. So, if you’re in this group, following a morning routine for non-morning people is a key factor.

If you are an early riser, you’re a step ahead of the game.

In either case, one tool that helps to start the day well is “I am” affirmations. And, we’re not talking about the Stuart Smalley superficial crap (old Saturday Night Live skit).

Real affirmations are true and honest core values that are a part of you. All you’re doing is bringing it out of you so that you can connect with it on a daily basis. With the right affirmations, you’ll start the day strong or at least turn around a shitty morning with ease.

2. Celebrate Every Win

We’re often so focused on what tasks we’ve yet to complete and goals we’ve yet to achieve that we barely give ourselves time to celebrate whenever we accomplish something.

It’s time to change that.

From now on, take a minute to celebrate every win, no matter how small.

To take this one step further, writing out a list of accomplishments and achievements is an excellent way to boost your mood. Keep a running list on a sheet of paper and pin it to your desk wall and add to it every time there’s something new to celebrate.

Then, whenever you’re feeling down, look at the list to remind yourself how fucking awesome you are!

3. Be Kind & Friendly

It may sound counterintuitive, but one of the easiest ways to feel better is to be nice to other people. Not only does sending positive vibes to others help us get out of negative thought patterns, it actually causes our brain to produce more happy hormones, boosting our mood and making us much more fun to be around.

So, next time you’re grumbling, moaning, or complaining, do this - compliment one of your colleagues via a text message, short email, instant message, maybe even leave a sticky note at their desk.

It’s a quick antidote to your negativity and creates positivity at work.

Plus, whenever anyone receives a random out of the blue compliment, it really boosts their mood and subsequently yours too. 

4. Create A Mood-Boosting Playlist

Music has healing effects on us and can be used to induce all kinds of emotions. When we’re feeling down, we might be tempted to listen to music that matches our mood - but emo ballads or and sad songs are not the answer.

When you’re feeling fed up with work, try listening to happy, positive and upbeat music to help elevate your mood. It’s a good idea to create a playlist that you can easily access whenever you need it.

Plus, it’s also a great way to mask and drown out office noise.

Or, if you’re looking for a quick pre-set solution, Spotify always has got your back with countless themed stations and playlists. 

5. Reorganize Your Workspace

Our physical working environment can have a huge impact on our mood and our productivity. Taking just a bit of time to revamp, reorganize and declutter your desk will have lasting benefits.

Tidying up the mess, adding some personal items and going green with some mood-boosting desk plants all make a huge difference to your space.

If you’re feeling a bit ambitious, you can feng shui your workspace to really supercharge it for positive energy vibes, happiness and prosperity. This shit really works.

6. Take Breaks

How many times have you worked through your lunch break? Or gone the whole day without spending more than 10 minutes at a time away from your desk?

We need regular breaks to keep ourselves focused, motivated and positive, so make sure you’re taking a real lunch break every day. If possible, utilize your full hour and head outside for an easy low-sweat workout, a walk around the block or maybe even squeeze in a nap.

Aside from lunch, make sure you take regular short breaks throughout the day, even if it’s just a walk around the building or just simply zoning out in the cubicle. Every little bit helps.

7. Meditate

Meditation is a scientifically proven way to reduce stress, improve focus and boost your mood. And it doesn’t have to involve sitting cross-legged for an hour and chanting weird sounds.

If you’re not familiar with meditation, check out our newbie’s guide to meditation to get started. It’ll provide you with all the simple basics.

Once you get the hang of it, even meditating for as little as one minute at a time can truly make a difference to your working day.

As you get into the habit of meditating and familiarizing yourself with different styles, you’ll even be able to get away with some sneaky incognito meditations at your desk whenever you need a little bit of calm.

8. Practice Gratitude

Practicing gratitude has been shown to improve mental health and wellbeing, as shown in this study from Indiana University. It’s also a simple trick to triggering happiness at work.

It doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming.

An easy way to go about it is to keep a gratitude journal or just a piece of paper on your desk. Take a few minutes every day to ask yourself, “What am I grateful for?”

The answers don’t have to be big or grand.

You could simply be grateful for the ability to read and write. You could be grateful that your job pays you enough to put food on the table and a roof over your head. You could be grateful that you don’t have an asshole boss. Whatever.

Taking a few minutes to focus on what you’re truly thankful for is an instant mood booster and its effects can be felt long term too.

If you struggle with finding something to be grateful for, just take a page out of these kids’ books. The simplest things make them happy and they really are the important things in life.

VIDEO: Keep it Simple - What Makes Kids Happy
LENGTH: 2:12
Summary points:
  • It’s the simple things in life that truly make us happy
  • Happiness is family, friends, nature, shelter, food and LOVE
  • If you struggle thinking about what you’re grateful for, think like a kid!

9. Manage Your Workload

High workload is one of the top causes of workplace stress. While it’s important to speak up if your boss or company is expecting too much of you and not providing enough support, there are other things you can do to manage your workload stress.

Perfecting the art of mono-tasking and learning to say no and set boundaries are two of the best ways to make your pile of to-do’s seem less like mission impossible and more like a piece of cake.

If staying organized and planning ahead are the areas you're struggling with, creating an effective evening routine could help to get you focused, stay on top of things and make your morning starts smooth and easy.

10. Get Into Flow

Once work is prioritized, it’s much easier to get yourself focused and into a flow state of mind, more commonly known as “getting in the zone” at work.

When we are in the zone, we feel like unstoppable heroes and work becomes much easier and feels natural. We aren’t stressed as we work and we tend to have better outputs and productivity.

Get the momentum started by doing small simple tasks that you can complete in two minutes or less. It’s replying to an email, reading the first page of a doc, creating the title slide of a presentation, whatever.

The key thing here is to get your momentum rolling. Eventually, this will lead to more tasks with longer durations and getting in the zone.

11. Reward Yourself

Our brains are pretty simple machines. They respond well to being rewarded, and learn to enjoy doing whatever tasks will end in a reward.

So, to train ourselves to enjoy work a little bit more, we just need to figure out an effective reward system.

It might be a healthy snack for each task crossed off your list. It could be a 10 minute break to listen to music or a podcast once your biggest task of the day is done.

Whatever it is, make sure that the reward is something that’s good for you, happens daily and won’t cost you a fortune, so that you can keep it up.

12. Give Back

We all know that helping others feels good. But this study from the National Institutes of Health found that helping others feels even better than having our own selfish desires met.

In the workplace, giving back can be in the form of helping colleagues out with their work, becoming a mentor or taking new employees under your wing.

It doesn't have to be hugely time-consuming. Even just offering to go for lunch with someone who looks a little lonely will help them and help you.

13. Learn Something

When we learn new skills, we feel good about ourselves and our future. A lot of the time, feeling stuck at work is partly due to feeling stagnant or that our skills are being underutilized.

Focusing on career development is a good way to improve our daily mood, and signal to our employers that we have the potential to progress.

Many workplaces have learning and development opportunities available for employees. And if not, there are a ton of free online courses you could do in your spare time.

Figure out what areas you’d like to become more knowledgeable in, and go see what’s out there.

14. Find A Work BFF

Spending so much time at work requires a good support network. We need people to vent to, celebrate with and bounce ideas off of.

It’s why everyone needs a work BFF. They make the working day go faster and help to minimize the Monday morning dread. It’s important to choose the right BFF, of course - and once you do, ensure that you nurture the relationship.

Having someone to laugh with on the good days and cry to on the bad days can make a world of difference to your overall happiness at work.

15. Take Advantage Of Perks

Most companies have a pretty extensive benefits program. However, not many people take full advantage of all the kick-ass perks.

Depending on the kind of place you work at, you could have access to everything from free yoga classes to subsidized child care.

If you haven’t already, familiarize yourself with your company’s benefits program, and make the most of it. Even if a $5 voucher doesn’t sound like much, everyone knows that free ice cream always tastes better 😉

16. Focus On What You Can Control

When we worry too much about things that are beyond our control, we can get ourselves into a negative tailspin.

At work, there are plenty of things outside of our control that can affect our mood like unresponsive coworkers, other people’s work ethic, our boss’s mood, reorgs, layoffs and restructuring.

But worrying about these things won’t make them any less of a reality or change our ability to influence them.

Instead, keep your focus on those things that you can control.

Sure, we can’t make our colleagues deliver work on time and at a high standard but we can ensure that our work is up to par and that the powers that be know that we’re delivering the right stuff on time.

Once we start to focus on what’s within our control, we often realize that we have more power to affect change than we thought. And, as a result, we can better manage work stress and feel happier.

17. Avoid Negativity

A lot of the time at work and in life, when we feel crappy, we attract more crappiness.

When our head isn’t in the right space, we’re likely to mess up and invite criticism, fall into the gossip trap or just attract other people who want to bitch and moan too.

This happens so seamlessly that we often don’t even notice.

To improve your happiness at work, take a moment to do an assessment and see what negativity there is in your working life. Do a self-assessment.

You might find people, situations and behaviors that you could avoid if you really wanted to. Start moving away from those things that are holding you down and you’ll see yourself moving closer to happiness and joy.

There are lots of little ways to turn your mood around and keep a positive attitude when life sucks. Some will be more appealing and effective for you than others, but it’s important to have a few go-to hacks in your toolbox.

Creating Happiness Is Within Your Control

When we were kids, we were truly happy for no reason. Joy came from within us.

But as we grow up, we look more and more to the external world to provide our happiness and joy. This is a sure recipe for failure.

Whether it’s our job, our relationships or our commute to work, pinning our happiness only to external sources leaves us open to an emotional rollercoaster every day. It’s gotta come from a variety of places both within and outside of ourselves.

So, your job or workplace isn’t quite what you’d like it to be.

Of course, there are steps you can take to improve and change that situation but in the meantime, it’s important to stay positive and not allow yourself to fall into a spiral of doom and gloom.

The power really is in your hands, and with such simple tools to generate joy, why wouldn’t you choose happiness each day?

Decide to be happy.

You can do this.

Feel Better,

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