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What Does The Science Say About Staying Happy At Work?

A lack of happiness in the workplace is a big issue. So it won’t come as any surprise that scientists are trying to figure out what makes workers see the brighter side of life. Unhappy employees lead to high rates of absenteeism and high turnover and it all damages business’s bottom lines.

So how does one create a happy workplace? It all comes down to positive psychology and positive emotions. It’s the reverse to how we usually think about our mental wellbeing. We see mental health as all the things that can go wrong with our minds. But positive psychology is different, It asks what we can do to actively make ourselves happy.

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The findings from this field are relevant and can be applied to the workplace. Let’s take a look at some of the field’s most pertinent conclusions.

Positive Emotions Are Contagious

In one study researchers wanted to find out if positive emotions were contagious. They set up a group situation and planted an actor in its midst. The actor was trained by the researchers to exude positivity in the group setting. The researchers found that the person acting positively transmitted their positivity to others. The group experienced less conflict, more cooperation and better performance in doing tasks.

It showed that being around positive people really does have an impact on workplace productivity and wellbeing. Being around happy people rubs off on the rest of us misery guts.

Small Actions Have A Big Impact On Personal Happiness

You might think that in order to achieve happiness, something incredible has to happen – like winning the lottery. But the evidence suggests that people react far more positively to the smaller things. This is great news for employers, as it means that they don’t have to spend vast sums of money trying to make their workers happier.

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Take bereavement for example. As the bereavement leave guide by Peninsula Group explains, employers don’t have a duty to provide workers with time off right now. But employers who allow compassionate leave can help to improve the wellbeing of their employees enormously. Small gestures like this are surprisingly effective. So too as things like making lists of all the good things a worker did or writing a letter saying how much a worker helped you.

The Unexpected Makes Us Happy

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When good things happen to us that we didn’t predict, it makes us a lot happier. The researchers found that people’s happiness centres lit up more on MRI scans when positive stimuli were unexpected.

At work, managers often create very predictable happiness programmes for their employees. They organise summer and Christmas parties. They give out bonuses. And they organise team events. But when it comes to happiness, this might not be the best strategy. It might be better, in fact, to make your happiness activities more random and to surprise your employees.

Random acts of kindness around the workplace seems to be the way to go. You could surprise a high-performing employee with a reward. Or you could give workers a surprise trip out of the office to a local theme park. The possibilities are endless.

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Should we stop asking questions?

Should we stop asking questions, and accept our fate?
Should we just give up on things being how we want them to be?
Should we stop worrying… take life as it comes?
Should we stop dreaming?
Should stop challenging ourselves?
Should we not aim for the stars?

I will never stop questioning things, I will never stop learning things, I will never be okay with where I stand. For if I do, then what’s next? I’d be stuck for eternity doing the same things, living the same life.

Questions will help you grow.

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I want to see the world, experience new adventures and new cultures.
I want to be more than just Steffi who works in IT.
I do not want my job to define me, and I don’t want my life to be linear.
I want to evolve, become a better person of myself.
I want my life to be exciting, hopeful and achievement driven.

I want be satisfied; I am content with what I have, but to me contentment is knowing that there will always be something new to discover and that boredom will never be a threat.

Be Valuable!

When it comes to the subject on how valuable we are, one would think firstly on money. It is true that having an indefinite amount of money, would make you to an extend superior than anyone else, because it means that you can live comfortably, afford the little (and big!) things in life. With money one can upgrade his/her gadgets when they see fit, and spend money loosely without wondering if they they’d survive until months end.

But in reality, money is just money, and things are just things. They’d make you happy when you get them, but sooner or later it is just yet another thing you own, which you will most likely put aside when something better comes along. It is only temporary….

You cannot put a price on what truly is valuable in ourselves and our lives… For instance, the memories we make, we will cherish for the rest of our life. Loving the people close to us, will make us feel complete, and despite the fights and disagreements, we all make our peace and never put each other aside. Investing our time on this and reminiscing about this would always bring a smile to our face. So does, when helping someone in need (a random act of kindness), or a friend who is in a rough situation.

Money, and possessing lots of expensive things, is all fine and dandy, but not if you have no one to share them with because you are just focused on work or you are greedy. Nothing makes your heart happier and rich than when you matter to people, and when you are loved for who you are.

Always appreciate what you have, and don’t do anything silly to jeopardise it.
Remember, there are always people around you who want what you have.  Never take it for granted.

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Appreciate the good things in life

Sometimes, when I am struggling with life or I’m just having a hard time, I try to write down what I’m going through. Other times, I try to focus my thoughts on the good things I have in life.

I will share this with you, in the hopes that you will realise that there’s more to life than bad things… Sure, we spend most of our life thinking about what went wrong, or how bad we have it… and what about that damn bad luck or bad timing? But if you fight it, good things can be achieved like…

  • Having a good relationship with your family
  • Having friends that you can count on day in, day out (I don’t have many, but that’s ok! Quality over quantity)
  • Appreciating the little thing
  • Having a job
  • Being able to afford a roof over your head and a daily meal on the table
  • Being able to pay the bills at the end of the month
  • Being your own person, even if this make others cringe… Embrace yourself!
  • Being a decent cook
  • Owning two naughty but loving cats
  • The ability to drive a car and go places (unless the roads are flooding because of heavy rain!)
  • Affording to go on holiday every once in a while
  • Making random people or strangers happy with a simple act of kindness
  • Owning your own little house
  • Being creative in my own way…. through photography
  • Being able to listen to live music and talk with people over a few drinks (Sounds simple, but some of us don’t have the privilege)
  • Volunteering in a charity shop
  • Having that one person (or more!) in your life, that will always make you smile… no matter what you are going through

Surely this is not all…. I’m only getting started 😉