• An unhappy workplace can affect yourself and other people
  • Forcing happiness doesn’t work and can be counterproductive
  • Simple changes to your attitude and environment can promote happiness
How often do you jump out of bed and look forward to going to work?

Yeah, us too.

For most of us, work isn’t something that motivates us to get out of bed. We keep hitting the snooze button on the alarm clock and drag ourselves into work because we have to, not because we want to.

It goes far beyond the “Monday blues”. It’s more like weekday blues.

Most of it goes back to the level of unhappiness in your workplace. When you spend so many hours in an uninspiring, joyless (and frankly, shitty) environment, it’s bound to affect you and everyone else in the office.

When you look around at your co-workers, they’re showing similar levels of frustration and unhappiness. It all makes for a boring, stressful and unfulfilling workday.

Truth is, being happy at work has a lot to do with a healthy work-life balance and working at a place where you are truly valued.

You can’t magically force yourself to feel happy about being at work - especially if you don’t like your job or even worse, hate it. But, you can set up your life at work to give happiness a chance to flourish.

And when it does, it’s the genuine and authentic kind, not the superficial shallow fake shit.

With a few tricks and tips, you can create the right conditions to foster happiness. At the very least, it’ll be easier to get a happy boost. 

When You’re Unhappy At Work...

When you’re unhappy at work, every day is a real struggle. You’re counting down the minutes until lunch then doing the same in the afternoon until it’s time to go home.

You loathe every minute you spend at work and you’re cubicle feels like a prison cell.

There’s zero sense of self-worth and pride in your work and it shows.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, the misery spills over to your health and home life.

There’s a lot that can go wrong when you feel like your workplace is a shitty place to spend time in. 

1) You’re Difficult To Work With

No-one enjoys working with jerks and people with negative attitudes. If your unhappiness at work is creating bad vibes, it brings everyone else down too.

Maybe you already have a bad rep because of your constantly pessimistic and/or uncooperative behavior. Or maybe you’re on the slippery slope to it.

Developing an attitude of a bratty kid, whiny bitch or straight up asshole brings a ton of stress, both for yourself and other people. It’s also a great way to ruin your credibility. All of this adds up to even more unhappiness at work.

It’s a vicious cycle. The more you act out negatively, the more unhappy you wind up feeling. 

2) There’s A Cycle Of Unhappiness 

You’re probably not the only person who’s unhappy at work. When your workplace is demotivating and uninspiring, it affects everyone.

In situations like this, nobody enjoys coming to work and it shows.

People are there solely because “it pays the bills.”

Unhappiness at work can spread like the flu. Only, instead of it running its course and then eventually going away, unhappiness can constantly recycle itself into new versions.

When there’s no counter energy, the unhappiness cycle just goes on and on. 

3) You’re Stressed When You Get Home

After another crappy day in the office, it’s easy for a bad attitude to carry over into your personal life when you get home.

Your thoughts are stuck in negativity and you don’t feel good about yourself. Instead of being happy to be home, you unload your misery and bring others down. You snap at others for no reason and you’re no fun to be around.

No matter how hard you try, you just can’t disconnect from work and the thought of going back there again makes things worse. In fact, you spend most of your Sundays dreading Monday.

Why Forced Happiness Doesn’t Work

When you’re happy at work, you’re more productive, more likely to be healthy and fun to be around. And from a company perspective, happier employees give the bottom line a boost too.

You can’t just fake it though.

Constantly chasing happiness is exhausting and truthfully, forced happiness doesn’t work.

This study backs that up with science. Forcing yourself to feel happy can be more damaging than accepting negative emotions.

When negative things happen, you find it harder to bounce back - often because you’re trying hard to keep negative emotions suppressed or hidden.

That’s not good.

You’ve gotta “feel it to heal it” by acknowledging those emotions and letting them out. Essentially, you’re allowing yourself to mentally release all the bad mojo - getting it out of your system by truly expressing those emotions.

Of course, we’re not saying you should wallow in your unhappiness. But faking happiness just doesn’t cut it. It never has and never will.

What you need to do is create an environment that allows happiness to happen on its own without all the “artificial colors and sweeteners” so to speak. This encourages “organic” happiness that is more natural and it can make work a more enjoyable place to be.

It’s time to drop that Insta-fake perma-grin and start bringing genuine pleasure into your workday. 

How To Allow Happiness To Happen At Work More Often

Life is too short to be miserable at work.

It’s easy to adopt a victim mindset and assume there’s nothing you can do to change things. In reality, there are plenty of things you can do to let happiness bloom more frequently in your office.

Try these tips to bring in more positive energy for a happier environment: 

1) Build Relationships With Co-Workers

Have you avoided getting too friendly with your co-workers to keep your personal and professional lives separate?

With the divide between work and home getting ever fuzzier, you’re missing out on a chance to promote more happiness at work.

You spend most of your week with the people you work with. Having a good relationship with them can help you feel more fulfilled.

We’re social creatures and deep down, we crave interaction with other people.

You don’t have to be besties by any means but making work friends at the office can lead to little moments of happiness magically appearing.

It also gives you a safety net to fall back on when issues crop up. If you know some of your co-workers will have your back, it’s a lot less stressful.

Sure, there’s usually someone that you don’t get along with. That’s totally normal. If that’s the case, don’t worry about it. Just focus on the ones you do mesh with.

So, how can you start building stronger links at work? Try these tips to get the ball rolling:

Discover more about your coworkers. Interact with your colleagues with small chit-chat before meetings, in the lunchroom, walking by, etc. You just might find someone that shares your same crazy hobbies and interests.

Food is always a great social bonding platform. So, grab lunch with a fellow cubicle dweller. You could share your packed lunches or go out. Either way works great to get to know someone.

Send out good vibes. If you know that a colleague is swamped with work, super stressed out, etc., offer up something small to get their spirits up. This could be just a little email encouragement, a smiley face sticky note or even offering to help. It’ll all come back to you multiple times over.

Join a few social functions outside of work. It’s a great way to get to know your co-workers better since people will often let their guard down away from work.

Doing any combination of the above can improve your working relationships and may even lead to having your very own “work BFF”. And not any run-of-the-mill work BFF. It’s the kind where they make Monday mornings something to look forward to.

2) Find Your Purpose At Work

You’ve heard this countless times. It’s practically cliche now.

“Find your purpose.” What the hell does that mean exactly?

We all want more specifics.

Here’s the deal.

Making valuable contributions through your work makes you feel like you’re needed and wanted. And when you can make positive progress in your own work and for others, it feels good.

Progress = happiness.

You need to feel that your work matters.

There’s even a word for it: Arbedjsglæde.

In Danish, this roughly translates to “happiness at work”. It’s about finding happiness by doing something - in this case, work that is fulfilling.

However, this is not about some lofty humanitarian endeavors like feeding starving kids in Africa, saving the rainforest, etc. Those are all fine and great, but it’s not part of your day-to-day work life.

What it really comes down to is this - it’s about the projects and tasks that you kick-ass at or are at least pretty good at.

Are you a Powerpoint Picasso

Become the go-to slideshow artist.

Can you put together a killer excel formula?

Take the lead as the spreadsheet superhero.

Got the chops to hunt down hard-to-find data?

Be a data dominator.

You get the idea.

When you are consistently doing things you’re good at that others in your group or office need, you’ll get that feeling of purpose about your work. It brings a real sense of fulfillment, belonging and a greater sense of wellbeing. 

3) Be More Of Your True Self & Less Of The Fake

Being your authentic self is another element of this. Most of us feel we can’t show too much of ourselves at work and this can mean going against your “true” self. It’s an uncomfortable feeling, for sure.

The answer isn’t always as easy as “just be yourself.”

Your company may have a certain culture that affects how you act and dress. Going against this can be scary.

Sometimes, it can leave you feeling isolated from your co-workers. You can get called out as someone who doesn’t fit in, for example. Or, just plain weird.

It’s a daunting prospect and for most people, it’s easier to suck it up and be “one of the team” and put up a fake work persona. But in the long run, pretending to be someone that you’re not is just another factor in feeling unhappy and unfulfilled at work.

However, you don’t want to go to the other extreme either and show all your true colors like you do with your husband, wife, family or significant other - that’ll just freak your co-workers out a bit.

There are boundaries.

Letting some of your “real” self show in the office can help change the way you feel about work and give happiness a bigger chance to bloom.

You can feel confident in setting up your life to make work more enjoyable — without feeling unprofessional or weird about it. 

4) Nudge Happiness Along With Some Gratitude

Adopting an “attitude of gratitude” is a great little trick to stimulating happiness at work. Gratitude is a gamechanger for bringing a positive mindset to the party.

Just by saying “thanks” to co-workers and finding little things to be grateful for, you’re changing the way your brain works.

There’s a strong link between kindness and happiness.

Studies have shown that performing random acts of kindness makes people feel happier. In fact, in this study conducted in the UK, acts of kindness had real measurable improvements in life satisfaction.

And those improvements in life satisfaction resulted in more happiness, which leads to more kindness. It turned into a positive feedback loop.

This positive feedback loop also stokes the good karma around you.

You’ve heard of the phrase, “what goes around comes around” in terms of being a jerk. It’s the whole “karma’s a bitch” thing.

However, it works both ways. Karma’s not only a bitch but also a blessing. The positivity and kindness you send out come back to you multiple times over.

Performing random acts of kindness and thanks can find their way back to you. It creates an upward spiral of positivity - not just for you but for everyone in the office.

It also boosts dopamine production in your brain. The more you practice gratitude, the more your brain wants to keep doing it. It’s almost like an addiction.

There are lots of small ways you can put an “attitude of gratitude” into action.

Here’s an easy one that you can do right at your desk, every day.

Sticky Notes Of Gratitude
Whenever you find something to feel grateful for, write it on a sticky note and stick it on the walls of your cubicle or the file cabinet. As you fill up the area on the wall with happy notes, it’s hard not to feel positive.

Spend just a minute or two every day jotting down something that you’re grateful for. It doesn’t need to be deep or meaningful - anything goes!

“I’m grateful for puffy clouds.”

“I’m grateful for funny internet memes.”

“I’m grateful for awesome coffee.”

Doing this when you first get to your desk can be a great way to kick off your day.

For even more ways to have an attitude of gratitude, check out this article on triggering happiness at work.

The important thing to understand is that gratitude doesn’t happen on its own. It requires your active thoughts and actions.

When you start small and do it consistently, it builds momentum quickly and can have a profound positive effect on your outlook on work and life in general.

Jay Shetty, a former monk and now a motivational speaker, dishes it out perfectly in this short inspirational 4-minute clip.

VIDEO: How Gratitude Can Change Your Life
YOUTUBE: Jay Shetty
LENGTH: 3:59
Summary points:
  • One profound moment can reset your perspective
  • Dwelling on what’s lacking in your life only makes you feel like shit
  • Be grateful for the good things you have now to be happier

5) Make Your Office More Green

This may seem like a strange one but having plants on your desk can be a game- changer for your mindset and attitude.

Firstly, it’s a link to nature. When you’re stuck indoors for most of the day, your exposure to greenery is pretty much nil.

Studies have shown that adding indoor plants to your workplace can have big benefits. Some seriously impressive reductions in stress, anxiety, tension, and anger have been linked to desk plants.

Secondly, they can improve productivity. This study showed a strong link between employee performance and plants. Having one plant per square meter had a big boost for memory retention and other tests.

Thirdly, plants can purify all that stale recycled indoor office air. They’re great at filtering out carbon dioxide, reducing it up to 25%.

Not all plants will thrive in an office environment but succulents and peace lilies are smart choices. And as a bonus, they’re low maintenance and don’t take up a lot of space.

Check our article on cubicle plants for more details.

6) Gamify Your Work For Self-Rewards

All of those free smartphone game apps have a key common trait. They all give you quick little wins up front and fast. It gets you hooked immediately. Then, they use points, stars, whatever to further boost that micro-motivation to keep you playing more.

You can use this same principle toward your job. It’s called gamification. And, when done right, it can make the most tedious tasks something to look forward to doing.

Implement your own self rewards system to turn work into a game.

Award yourself points every time you complete a task or make it through another dull meeting. Hell, you can even give yourself a gold star!

When you’ve racked up enough rewards, treat yourself to something positive and healthy.

Finished replying to 10 emails

Make yourself a cup of cofftea.

Completed that hairy excel analysis?

Take a 15 minute stress break walk.

Submitted the Powerpoint on time?

Have a 5 minute laugh session on YouTube.

And when you’ve completed the entire week with wins Monday through Friday, splurge yourself with something special on the weekend.

Gamifying your work is an easy way to feel more engaged with your work. When you know you’ve done a good job and you’ll be given some kudos for it, it can make a big difference to your mindset. Plus, it brings out the kid in you. 

It’s Time To Get Happy At Work

Right now, you might be hitting the snooze button every morning and dreading the return of Monday but that’s about to become a thing of the past.

Happiness at work isn’t something you can fake but it doesn’t need to be elusive either.

You spend a huge chunk of your life at work - too much to be miserable for most of it.

With a few mindset changes, you can start putting those Monday blues to bed and let happiness happen naturally.

Finding little things to be grateful for, being nicer to your co-workers and adding some fun to your workday are simple but effective ways to boost happiness levels at work. And you might spread the joy to other people too.

Before you know it, you’ll see little buds of happiness appearing all around you. Then, all those buds will start blooming and you’ll be surrounded with more joy than ever.

Pretty soon, you’ll actually start looking forward to Mondays - for real!

Feel Better,

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