Are you happy at work?
This is a question that I often ask people that I encounter in the business world. A recent Gallup poll reported that only 29% of workers actually feel engaged at their jobs, and Good Think Inc reports that only 45% of workers are happy.
Given that we spend more time at work than we do at home, I think there’s something seriously wrong with this picture.
Part of the problem is that we have trained ourselves to believe that happiness is a destination. We think that success is a prerequisite for happiness. So we set a goal and we tell ourselves that we will be happy once we’ve achieved that goal. But by the time we get there, we’ve already set a new goal—a new, unreachable requirement for happiness.
Here’s what’s wrong with that.
“If happiness is on the opposite side of success, your brain never gets there,” says Shawn Achor in his charming, immensely popular TED Talk.
In honor of the International Day of Happiness and on the heels of Shawn Achor’s keynote address at Zumapalooza 2014, I wanted to share five things that I do to spread happiness in my life. Try them out, and see if they work for you!
- Always have something to look forward to. According to Shawn Achor, anticipation alone raises endorphin levels by 27%.
- Commit conscious acts of kindness. Giving to friends and strangers decreases stress. Money itself doesn’t buy happiness but spending it on others can make you happy.
- Infuse positivity into your environment. Try cutting out negative messages like the Evening News.
- Spend money on experiences not on stuff. The happiness that material items bring is fleeting.
- Exercise your signature strength. Identify your strengths and create opportunities to use them daily.
Every morning, when I wake up, the first thing is see is a sign in my bedroom that reads, “We tend to seek happiness, when happiness is actually a choice.” It is more than a platitude—it’s a reminder that our time here is preciously short. Each day is a gift.
The time for us to start spreading happiness is now. Not tomorrow. Not next year.
The good news is that you can train your brain to be happy with pretty minimal effort. Take Shawn Achor’s 21-Day Challenge. Pick one of the following actions and do it every day for 21 days to train your brain to be happier and influence the happiness of those around you.
- Jot down three new things that you are grateful for
- Take two minutes to write a brief positive message to someone in your network
- Meditate at your desk for two minutes—focus on your breath going in and out
- Exercise for 10 minutes
- Spend 2 minutes writing in detail about a meaningful experience that you’d have over the past 24 hours
Since Zumapalooza, I’ve been writing positive messages to people in my network on a daily basis to let them know how much I appreciate them. It makes the recipient feel good—but I feel happy in the present.
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