5 Surefire Ways to Make Yourself Happier at Work

08/25/2017 12:00 pm ET

By Tiffany David, Founder and Principal of Total People Management

Warning: This is not an article about boosting productivity, increasing engagement or building leadership qualities. However, those side effects may result as an unintended consequence of applying this advice and experiencing more happiness.

Companies are serious about improving their bottom line through Employee Experience initiatives and that makes me happy. When we focus on the Moments That Matter, we take a more human approach to employee satisfaction that acknowledges life’s ups and downs and doesn’t intrude upon the sacred notion of individual happiness that tends to get lost in some culture initiatives.

Let’s not kid ourselves though, it is about making more money. Although there is nothing wrong with fostering employee productivity, penetrating more market share, improving customer satisfaction and putting a shine on the ole employer brand, research shows that people are primarily responsible for their intrinsic long-term happiness.

Quite frankly, it can be creepy when someone is in charge of your happiness at work. Josh Kovensky says what we are all feeling, “Besides the eerie similarity between “chief happiness officer” and concepts like “ministry of love” and “war on terror,” it represents an intrusion into our emotional lives that should not be permitted to any kind of authority figure—be it corporate or governmental—regardless of intention.

So, as my children often tell me, “You’re not the boss of me”. And, while I ponder who my children’s actual boss may be, let me assure you that these tips are based on my personal experience and conversations with all sorts of workers. Take it for what it is and recall the words of Woodrow Wilson,

“You are not here to merely make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.”

Here are the top 5 ways that you can regain control over your sustained well-being and happiness at work:

1. Get a Life

You are more than what you do to earn a living. Adults are at risk of becoming one-dimensional if all that consumes them is made up of work. In fact, they can be downright boring and seem disconnected from social groups. Important note here; social media is not really social. You will not be your authentic self if social media is involved. Turn off your phone for at least 30 minutes per day. If you can, work up to 2 hours. It’s been done…not by me, but I’ve heard stories that sound true.

2. Have a Sense of Humor

People who constantly worry about being happy are in fact miserable. I once asked a CEO how many times a day (week?) he had a fully belly laugh. The kind of laugh that makes your eyes water, checks turn red and possibly a snort thrown in for good measure. He replied that he couldn’t remember the last time and my heart broke for him. In a world with media-gone-mad, we must practice the art of good humor. Even if you are not in a place to enjoy a hearty laugh, put a smile on for others--and yourself.

3. Treat Yourself Well

We are a society that suffers from poor sleep habits, caffeine addiction and heavy amounts of inactivity. Who can be truly happy when they’ve grown too large for their favorite slacks or who just wants to nap instead of pretending to pay attention to a 4 hour long meeting? When we plan to take care of ourselves, everyone benefits. Carve out the time to take a walk, go surfing, meet with a friend or read a book for pleasure. If you don’t think you have enough time to take care of yourself, stop watching television. No one will hand you the time to care for yourself. You need to take it. You need to protect it.

4. Stick with the Winners

Sheila’s in the break room again complaining to anyone who will listen about her workload and lack of recognition. If only the other people would do their jobs well, Sheila’s life would be so much better. She may be right. It doesn’t matter. Move on with as much grace as possible but disconnect from the negative. Instead, grab a coffee with someone who has a smile and a piece of fruit to share. You’ll be happy you did. By the way, this isn’t about the promotion. This is just a matter of choosing your tribe.

5. Give a Little

Someone once told me that we can have a great career, terrific friends and a loving family—we just don’t get them all at the same time. We get 2 out of the 3. In hindsight, I find this to be true for most of my life. The good news is that the focus seems to cycle between the groups of two. At some points, I have enjoyed soaring career success and supporting friendships with less of an emphasis on family. Other times, of course, family and friends have taken front seat and my work has stalled. Always, however, I am called to give something to those in need. This has never wavered over the last 20 years and my life is richer because of it. Whether it’s volunteering at a soup kitchen, helping a Scout troop or counseling a junior colleague, the heart-warming impact on my happiness cannot be overstated.

If you need help remembering these 5 tips every day, just make a smiley face with your coffee cup on your napkin in the morning. It may not jog your memory for all five things on this list but it will make you happy.

About the author: As Founder and Principal of Total People Management, Tiffany consults with leaders to proactively succeed with their People strategies. She believes that today is a great time to influence the rebellious future of work and, to that end, is the Chief Disrupter for #DisruptHR San Diego. Follow her on Twitter @RTifanyDavid.

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