Quick, Easy Ways to Improve your Mood & Succeed in the Workplace

Being happy at work doesn’t just make you feel good—experts say that employees with a positive attitude often make money, take fewer sick days, and are more creative. When people are feeling good, something clicks in the brain that leads to more flexible and more original thinking, notes Teresa Amabile, Ph.D., a professor at Harvard Business School who studies job satisfaction. Here’s how to be happier—and more successful—at work.

 Tune In to the Power of Positive Relationships

 Beth Thomas, author of Powered by Happy: How to Get and Stay Happy at Work, points out that the people you associate with in the office can have a big impact on your happiness and success. She suggests finding a group of people who have a positive attitude and building relationships with them.

And since most people who quit over job dissatisfaction are actually unhappy with their bosses, not with their actual jobs, Thomas suggests asking advice from those in your trusted work circle who’ve worked successfully with your boss. The direct approach can also help: Confirm your boss’s expectations by asking, “If you were to tell me in six months that I have done a fabulous job, what would I have accomplished?”

 Positive Thinking Techniques

Improve your mood at work with these easy steps:

  • Offer to help a coworker on a project. Not only do you get a sense of satisfaction from helping another, but you’re improving workplace relationships, which is good for the employee morale of everyone in the office.
  • Move. Get up from your desk, walk around, and, if possible, do some stretching and breathing exercises. There are even stretching exercises that you can do without leaving your desk. For example, to release tension in your neck and upper back: Stand up and clasp your hands behind your head. Flex your elbows back while pinching your shoulder blades together. Hold for 10 seconds, then relax, and repeat 5 to 10 times.
  • Have some healthy carbs. Studies show that eating high-carbohydrate, low-fat foods can improve mood, so grab an apple or have a small bowl of whole-grain cereal as a quick pick-me-up.
  • Improve your environment. Listening to music, tidying up your desk, or even changing the wallpaper on your computer screen can give you a more positive attitude and a sense of control.

 Finding Meaning, Finding Happiness

Believing that what you do has a positive impact on the world can provide motivation and job satisfaction beyond your paycheck. Remind yourself daily that your efforts are helping someone. Regardless of whether you are waiting tables or trying court cases, someone’s life is a bit better or easier because of what you do. Positive thinking techniques, like taking a few minutes a day to visualize the way your work helps others, can help sustain you during those inevitable moments when you find your job frustrating.

“Long-term, sustained happiness at home or work does not come from money or things,” says Thomas. “It comes from a state of being, from feeling good about helping others, from your attitude and how you deal with unpleasant things, from understanding what happiness means to you, and from setting realistic expectations.”

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