career happiness

How to be happier at work

Friendly ServiceTo follow up on Monday’s post about jobs, I thought I’d do one on some simple tricks for being happier at work.

Now, I’m not a happiness guru by any means (I think people like Gretchen Rubin fall into that category), but I am that annoyingly optimistic and perky person that everyone probably secretly hates on Monday mornings. 🙂 So I think I know a thing or two about taking your “just a job” and making the best of it.

Here are some of my big work rules:

Don’t let the little things get to you.

I’ve seen coworkers have serious meltdowns because the copier jammed, the stapler jammed, or the coffee pot is empty. I’m sure these were the straws that broke the camel’s back when they were already having a bad day, but you can’t let tiny, stupid little things like this get to you. Because if you do, even if you’re not having a bad day, eventually the frustrations will build up and you’ll have a meltdown anyway.

Work is a great place to find Murphy’s Law, so I just approach every day expecting it. When I have a huge copying project, the copier probably will jam. When I’m running late for a meeting, I probably will get stuck in the restroom stall that doesn’t have any TP in it. (TMI?) All you can do in these situations is laugh and shrug your shoulders. (Pretending you’re in a sitcom like Seinfeld or The Office helps too, at least for me.)

Because the other choice is to let these things ruin your day, and they’re totally not worth it.

Be patient with people.

Whether it’s customers/clients, coworkers, or bosses, being at work means dealing with people we don’t necessarily get along with or have anything in common with. You don’t have to love them or be BFFs with them, but if you’re going to spend 8 hours a day with them, you might as well try to be friendly, right?

Sure, I’ve got that one coworker who absolutely refuses to be happy about anything…I’ve learned to smile politely at her and go on my merry way. I’ve got that one boss whose gut instinct when things go wrong is to scream at everyone, no matter who is actually responsible…I’ve learned to breathe, wait for the storm to pass, and keep doing my work until he realizes he’s been a doofus and comes back around to apologize.

People will be people, and they won’t necessarily be people you’ll like. But you may as well make sure that you’re a person you like when you’re dealing with them. At the end of the day, you can’t change people, you can only change yourself.

Treat each day like a new start.

I’ve seen coworkers come into work on Monday morning still stewing over whatever went wrong on Friday. That means they spent their entire weekend stewing (ruining a perfectly good weekend), and that they’re going into the day already in a bad mood. No matter what actually happens that day, they’re probably going to be miserable, because they’re going into it miserable.

If you look for problems and things to annoy you, you will find them. If you take your work home with you, it will make your work life and your home life bad. So let things go once 5:00 hits, enjoy your “me” time like crazy, and come back to work the next day ready for a blank slate. Why invite more trouble than you need?

How do you find happiness at work (even when things get crazy)?





photo credit:  Lilly Tran

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