We spend about half of our waking hours at work, and that makes work an especially important place to be happy. Even if you never became the star athlete or movie star that you thought you would when you were 8, hopefully you are happy enough with your job and your co-workers to feel fulfilled and optimistic about your work life. By now you have probably discovered that one of the keys to feeling good during the workday is having a positive attitude. And, of course, positivity is contagious, as is negativity. Make sure you are contributing to your office’s good vibes with these tips.
Gratitude is a major subject in mindfulness meditation and in the field of Positive Psychology. Brain scans show that when people are instructed to think of things that they appreciate in their lives or are grateful for, the parts of their brains associated with happiness become active. Try to think of ways that you can practice gratefulness at work. What are you thankful for about the people you work with? One promising idea is to list “appreciations” as a standing agenda item during meetings. Individuals can speak about someone or something at work for which they are grateful, for instance, “I am grateful for John in IT for solving my computer problem. Without him I wouldn’t have been able to do my work.”
No matter what is going on around you, make a promise to yourself to preserve your positive attitude at all costs. According to the research on happiness, both positivity and negativity are contagious because of the mirror neurons in our brains. Don’t catch the negativity bug. Choose to be the beacon of positivity in your work environment.
Employee relationships can be a powerful reason to enjoy going to work. Further, having good relationships at work can make you more productive, and help you get through stressful times when you are under a lot of pressure. Make an effort to be friendly to your coworkers casually in the office, eat in the breakroom or cafeteria, or go out to lunch or for an after-work activity with a couple of the coworkers you know best. Try to make friends. When you are friends with your co-workers, your office environment will feel much more at ease and less staid.
Martin Seligman and other researchers in the field have found that when we are engaged with our work in a way that uses our strengths in new and innovative ways, we experience more happiness. Playing to your strengths at work also makes you feel more engaged and energized by what you are doing. With this knowledge, you can not only create more happiness within yourself but help your co-workers as well. How about starting meetings with a time for sharing accomplishments big and small? You can recognize each other’s strengths and what you have to learn from each other.
We all know how much better it feels to do something for a reason than to just perform a perfunctory action. People can experience an activity as meaningful when it resonates with their values, connects them with people they like, teaches them new skills, or produces new insights. From what we know about how the human brain works, the ability to create meaning is also enhanced by confronting challenges, emotional safety, and working under structure (but not micromanagement.) Most importantly, we can learn to create our own personal meaning when we watch and listen to experienced meaning-makers.
Rewards activate the pleasure centers in our brains, whether they are self-induced or given by someone else. Using small rewards to motivate yourself can make you happier and more productive. Self-induced rewards can be anything from taking a short walk, eating a snack, or calling a loved one to say hello. If you are the person in charge at your company, you can offer your employees incentives such as flexible working hours to motivate them and show you genuinely care. Make sure the rewards you are offering are considered important by your staff. You can circulate a survey to find out what your staff would value in a rewards program.
Why is it important to spread positive vibes at work? Your company culture depends on it! If you work in a fun, friendly, and meaningful place, you will be happier and better at your job. Make the positive decision to add to your workplace’s good vibes, and reap the rewards.
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