Be happier at work now. New discoveries in the science of the brain show why staying positive is your best defence against career stagnation.
Many think that success leads to happiness, but research shows our brains work the opposite way round. A positive approach to our day helps increase resilience, energy and the ability to influence others.
We can train our brains to be happier at work as well as more positive. Here are seven tips to increase our levels of positivity:
1. Seek fun. Research shows that work and fun are not mutually exclusive. A little lightheartedness (e.g. a smile or cat video) can actually cause people to think more clearly and creatively. It seems that our neurons fire more efficiently when we are happy.
2. Brighten your personal space. Our surrounding impact our frame of mind. Environmental cues can stimulate our reflexive brain into a stress state or increase our creativity. When we surround ourselves with pictures and objects that stimulate positive thoughts our brains respond more effectively than when we have a drab and grey space.
3. Look for the good each day. When we keep a daily gratitude journal we become happier and more successful over time. When we look for the positive every day and reflect about at least three things we’re grateful for, we begin to see our world differently. Pick some personal and some work related elements to write down.
4. Appropriately express the bad. Neuroscientists have discovered that verbalising the negative decreases their magnitude. When we feel ourselves stressed and worrying about bad news, taking a few minutes to write down how we’re feeling can reduce the power of your negative emotions. To make sure no one else sees what you have written, it is often best to destroy it safely (e.g. in a paper shredder).
5. Invest in social support. One of the greatest predictors of success during stress and challenge is the quality and quantity of our support and our relationships. Research shows that close family ties and supportive friendships are among the biggest contributors to happiness (they may even help us live longer). Start small by reaching out to just one person a day and start becoming happier at work.
6. Own your motivation. Why do you do what you do? Any motivation that is not your own is negative. If you are doing something to make you mom, partner or boss happy a level of resentment will creep in (e.g. taking out the garbage). When you own what you get out of it (e.g. a clean house with no bugs), the same motivation becomes positive and helps motivate positive behaviour and happiness.
7. Take a break. When we are sitting and working for too long our muscles tense up, our eyes glaze over and our energy level drops. Breaking up our workday into smaller sections (about 60 -90 minutes) with regular five minute breaks in between sections leads to a jump in our concentration and productivity.
Be happier at work now
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