20 Proven Ways to Be Happy at Work

Two smiling coworkers high-fiving each other

Although salary, job title and company status are at the forefront of all major career decisions, company culture and personal happiness are actually the most important.

After all, how can you enjoy a fulfilling career if your working conditions are awful and your colleagues are even worse?

You simply can’t!

So, if you initially liked your job and you are looking to be happier in the workplace, here are 20 proven ways to increase job satisfaction and find true happiness at work.

1. Find Meaning in Your Work

You got to where you are because you were once really excited about starting your job. And while it’s common to lose interest over time, try to find meaning in your work again by focusing on tasks that are important to you and which will help you grow through continued learning.

2. Focus on the Big Picture

Each day will bring a new hurdle and a new set of challenges to overcome; however, it’s important to focus on the bigger picture when you’re having a bad day. Remind yourself what you’re actually working towards, and stop sweating the small stuff.

3. Help a Colleague Out

Helping your colleagues can make you feel happier in the workplace. Indeed, according to research by the La Follette School of Public Affairs, people in their mid-30s who had earlier rated helping others at work as important felt much more content in their job when asked again three decades later.

Now, we aren’t suggesting you take on your colleague’s entire workload but rather that you offer a helping hand when you can see they’re drowning under a pile of work.

4. Take a Break

If you’re feeling fed up, you should take some time off to recharge your batteries. This doesn’t necessarily need to be a long break abroad; instead, it could just be a few days spent at home unwinding and forgetting about work for a while.

5. Go for Lunch with Your Work Besties

Eating lunch with your work bestie can go beyond office gossip – it can instil team bonding that translates into the workplace, too. According to a 2015 study published in the journal Human Performance, firefighters who eat together perform better together in their life-or-death line of work than those who don't.

6. Smile More Often

Thanks to the release of neuropeptides, smiling tells your brain to feel happier. So, if you tend to have a resting b*tch face, it’s time to turn that frown upside down and smile a little more. The feeling is infectious, so your colleagues may soon catch on to the trend, too.

7. Remind Yourself Why You Like Your Job

Before you head to work in the morning and start a new day, remind yourself why you like your job and why it’s better than other opportunities. It’s easy to get wrapped up into the cliché of the grass being greener on the other side, so always take time out to reflect on the positives in your career.

8. Find a Good Work-Life Balance

To stay happy at work, it’s vital to find a good balance between work and life. If you’re running on low energy, you won’t be able to perform well on the job, after all. So, take time to explore activities that you enjoy doing and take your mind off your professional duties.

9. Avoid Negative Coworkers

Being happy at work means that you should avoid anything that will bring your mood down. Like Negative Nellies who can chip away at your positivity and drag you down with them. If you’re experiencing negativity, try to avoid it at all costs.

10. Add Variety into Your Daily Schedule

If you’re bored of doing the same monotonous tasks day in and day out, find ways to add variety into your regular schedule. You could volunteer to take on an additional project or help another department, for example – whatever it is, the new work will make you feel more valued and productive.

11. Leave Your Personal Problems at Home

While it’s easy for your work and personal life to blur into one, it’s essential that you try and switch off from your personal problems when you walk into work. The stress will only keep you distracted, and it will stop you from being productive.

12. Get to Work Early

If you usually start your mornings in a hectic rush, the rest of your day isn’t going to go much smoother. So, wake up a little earlier, and allow yourself enough time to get ready and into work early. You won’t feel panicked and will naturally feel happier, as a result.

13. Organise and Personalise Your Desk

A clean and tidy desk can improve your overall happiness, as you won’t waste time trying to find what you’re looking for. Decorating your desk can also lift your spirits, as you’re adding personal items that make you feel happy. If you share a desk, meanwhile, you could encourage your neighbour to get involved, which could lead to a stronger bond between you.

14. Reward Yourself for a Job Well Done

Whether it’s going out for your favourite lunch, enjoying a midweek happy hour or splurging on a daily coffee, find an outlet of reward for when you’ve had a fruitful day. It will keep you motivated to complete your tasks and be happy in the process.

15. Align Your Job to Your Personal Values

Align your personal goals to those of the company, and you’ll soon see how much happier you’ll be within your role. For example, if you feel like you could progress to supervisor level, discuss this with your manager to see if you can both share the same vision and move towards the same goal, which is ultimately your professional growth and success as well as that of the company’s.

16. Meditate

By practising mindfulness on a daily basis, you’ll be able to control daily stress and pressures a lot better, helping you stay happy at work. Whenever you’re feeling a bit hot under the collar, you can pop to a quiet area and practise some breathing techniques to keep you grounded.

17. Go for Walks During the Day

Sometimes a small walk around the block can do a world of good and help you boost your mood. Indeed, a 2016 study showed that a short walk can override the feelings of boredom and dread and can instantly make you feel happier.

18. Eat Healthily

By maintaining a proper diet, you can keep your energy levels high throughout the day. On the other hand, if you indulge in a lot of junk food and caffeine, your energy will dip, making you feel sluggish, unhappy and tired while at work.

19. Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated is even more important than getting the right nutrition during your workday. Without proper hydration, you can get nauseous, suffer from headaches and generally feel lethargic at work, which is neither beneficial for your boss or yourself.

20. Be Positive

Lastly but most importantly, the best way to be happy at work is through a positive attitude. As mentioned previously, it’s always easy to point out the negatives of your job, but you are there for a reason. And if you think about it a little, the good will probably outweigh the bad.

It’s impossible to be happy at work all the time, but by following these tips and by sharing your positive experiences with others, you’ll generally feel more content in your career.

What do you do to stay happy at work? Let us know your tips and tricks by joining in on the conversation below.