Brighten up your workweek with these five easy practices.
When you think “happy place,” your mind probably conjures up a sandy beach or a quiet mountaintop, an elegant outdoor café or maybe just your cozy bed on a cold winter morning—pretty much anywhere but your workplace. A happy place is where you feel the most calm, comfortable and at ease. Even if you love what you do, the deadlines, duties and long hours spent at the office (or wherever you work) can result in stress, which in turn wreaks havoc on your body and mind. We can’t turn work into play, but we can uncover little tweaks and easy practices that will make your workweek a whole lot brighter.
1. Make friends—it's worth the effort
No matter how much you love your job, the daily grind can grow dull. Our minds crave novel experiences and when you do the same thing day after day at work you’re bound to experience some unhappiness. Shake up your work life and increase well-being by creating fresh relationships at work—either with someone new to the office or someone you haven’t gotten to know yet. Invite a coworker to lunch or schedule a coffee date.
2. Keep track of the good stuff
It’s often easier to focus on what’s going wrong than what’s going right at work, creating a cycle and culture of complaint. To remind yourself to take note of the good things, put a jar (or coffee mug) on your desk; every time something good happens—your boss says “Great job!,” you land a new client or you complete items on your to-do list—write it down on a slip of paper, fold it up and tuck in the jar. At the end of each month, read the “good moments” for an extra boost of happiness. Then empty the jar and begin again.
3. Create a chain of kindness
Acts of kindness can inspire more kindness. Studies have shown that those who experience kind acts are likely to do something kind to others. Creating a chain of kindness at your workplace can start with you! Commit one small act of kindness¾email your boss about a colleague’s great work, offer to help with a project in another department, bring your coworker her favorite cup of coffee—every day for a week. You’ll be surprised by how much happiness you’ll experience!
4. Re-think your workday routine
We often fall into a workday routine out of convenience. Take stock of your day, from when the alarm goes off until you come home in the evening: What could you change that would have the greatest impact on your weekday happiness? Ask to move your desk in order to get more sunlight? Tidy your office before you leave each day? Keep the office refrigerator stocked with green tea instead of Diet Coke for a healthier afternoon pick-me-up? Set a goal to make the necessary changes and you’ll see huge improvements to your week overall.
5. Spice up your workspace
Most workplaces are designed for utility, not beauty. To make your office or cubicle more of a happy place, liven it up and make it yours. Family photos are just the starting point. If you have a favorite color, flower or theme that you love, go to town. Love owls, pugs or Captain America? Hang artwork and images to reflect that. If possible, bring in a small plant or something else to remind you of the natural world beyond your office; a beautiful desktop wallpaper is the next best thing.
Dani DiPirro is an author, blogger and designer living in a suburb of Washington, D.C. In 2009, she launched the website PositivelyPresent.com with the intention of sharing her insights about living a positive and present life. Dani is the author of Stay Positive, The Positively Present Guide to Life, and a variety of e-books. She is also the founder of Twenty3, a design studio focused on promoting positive, modern graphic design and illustration.