Here's a little mental exercise to try sometime.
Think of a mundane task you do everyday. It might be emailing potential clients, posting on Twitter, or even going to a meeting with the boss.
Now, put a twist on it.
What if you added some extra flair to that email, including an extra hashtag no one has ever used before (because you just invented it), or showed up to the meeting carrying a few boxes of cupcakes? Ironically, this approach to life doesn't take that much effort. For every encounter, think about how you can mix it up a little.
I remember doing this with my email signature a few years ago. I added a funny quote to the bottom of every message. At least a few people per week would comment. It was as though I was brightening their day by including a John Hodgman line about not understanding technology, and it took me literally ten seconds to find the quote and paste it in. (Eventually, I stopped doing it and started posting most of my extemporaneous comments on Twitter instead. Sorry.)
What happens when you do this?
I can safely say I've built a career by thinking of creative ways to do mundane tasks a bit differently. It's a slight shift in thinking. You might decide, when you visit Vegas, to stay 30 minutes from the strip so you can play disc golf. Instead of a plastic protective case for your iPhone, try leather. In each situation, take a step back and think about how you could do something slightly different in life and even surprise yourself.
Here's what happens when you do this. For starters, it boosts your productivity. Doing the same thing over and over again leads to a slowdown in your work output. Shifting a little--maybe drinking cold coffee instead of hot or wearing something no one expects--changes how you view your job and gives you a big boost. If you sit all day at your desk, try standing. If you normally work at a coffee shop in the morning, try going there late at night. Twist the routine like a cork from a wine bottle.
This "think different" approach to productivity has some surprising rewards. For one, it can save your life. Let's say you do normally sit all day and decide to get a standing desk. In one recent study, it turns out that standing up during the day can reduce the likelihood of serious health problems and even death. At night in the coffee shop, you'll meet a completely different clientele.
New experiences, a new outlook, a new setting, some new clothes--they all contribute to a sense of excitement and happiness about your job because you are not endlessly sifting through emails or sitting in the same chair in the same status meeting all day. Happiness can be defined as seeing a slightly different perspective on the mundane that gives you more satisfaction and accepting that as a new reality. The truth is, the mundane will always exist. We will be checking email for years to come, but maybe you can add a little personality to your next message.
What could you do differently? Maybe you could drive into work using a different route, imagine that! Buy a purple shirt just because you have never worn anything like that. Send an email to a Shark and see if he or she responds. This wild and off-the-cuff thinking does something to our brains. We feel the shift. It makes us a little easier to get along with, a little less cranky, a little more jovial.
Try doing something surprising right now. Let me know what it is.