If you take a look at social media, it might seem like everyone out there has an amazing job that he or she is in love with. And you wouldn't be wrong--people are almost five times as likely to tweet about loving their job than hating it. You might occasionally wonder, "What am I doing wrong?" Whether you work for yourself or someone else, it's natural to occasionally feel down about your job. There is always that unavoidable bad day. But according to science, loving your job has less to do with your job and more to do with you. That's right, there are quick and simple ways you can ensure your own happiness at work every single day. Being happy at work will increase your productivity and efficiency, and thus success at work. Here are six changes you can put into effect immediately.
1. Measure your progress every day
Findings in psychology have shown that we rate ourselves as happier and more satisfied when we see that we are making progress toward our goals. To-do lists are a great way to capture what's on your plate and ensure that everything gets done. Invariably, the day gets away, with some tasks falling to the bottom of the list, and others that aren't even on the list being completed. Looking at an incomplete list at the end of the day can be demotivating. To mitigate this, take some time to reflect each day on the progress you have made on your goal. Even a small amount of progress will significantly increase your happiness.
2. Create your own moments of joy
Anticipation brings us joy. As you probably know from your personal life, it's exciting to have plans to look forward to. So, when you hear your alarm every morning and dread getting out of bed, you're compromising your ability to be happy at work. Instead, create one thing that you can look forward to each day at work, whether it's seeing a specific co-worker or your special midday snack. Whatever it is, the simple act of looking forward to it will increase the happiness you associate with work.
3. Get out of your comfort zone
A Duke University experiment has found that when we tackle difficult projects, we feel more proud of our work. While simple projects are easier to cross off a list, we don't necessarily feel meaningfully invested in them. They are easily doable--and easily forgettable. However, when we find ourselves challenged by our work, we need to put in more effort to successfully complete it, and we thus tie more value to it. This in turn gives you more to be happy about. Take a look at the current projects on your plate. Identify the most difficult ones, and find a way to give them a little more time and thought each day.
4. Help a co-worker
When we do something altruistic, we increase our happiness. Recent research has found that people who help their colleagues are actually happier at work than those who don't. It isn't about being a martyr, but instead about pleasing our own internal reward system. Of course, this doesn't mean compromising your own work or trying to do someone else's job when they don't request your help. Instead, look out for opportunities to help someone you see struggling, or even consider proactively reaching out to your colleagues and offering your help if and when they need it.
5. Mix up your lunch
Nutritionists have found that certain nutrients play a bigger role than others in boosting our moods and improving our happiness. For example, mushrooms are rich in selenium, which may help lower the risk of depression, anxiety, and fatigue, fruits and vegetables help increase our energy and thus happiness, and dark chocolate may help lower our levels of stress hormones. Stock your desk drawers or office fridge with a few of these natural "happy pills," and be sure to consume in moderation throughout the day.
6. Ignore your work (temporarily)
Our brains may not be as good at compartmentalizing all our thoughts and tasks as we think. Sometimes, it's not your work, but all the other things on your mind that increase your stress and unhappiness while you're on the job. Instead of trying to ignore the rest of your life, create a healthy balance between the two while at work. Take short, five-minute breaks (as appropriate) to cross personal items off your to-do list, whether it's scheduling a doctor's appointment, responding to a friend's text message, or organizing your child's school pickup. By tending to these personal items, you allow yourself to be more at ease, and thus happier, while at the office.
At the end of the day, your job--the tasks and the people it involves--plays a significant role in your sense of personal happiness. This doesn't mean, however, that your job needs to control it. Finding ways to boost your mood at work will create a happy medium and soon, you may be one of those people tweeting about how much she loves her job.