Five ways to put happiness back in the workplace

by HCA12 Apr 2017
According to the World Happiness Report, Norway is officially the world’s happiest country for 2017.

The question is, so what? Why is measuring happiness at a global level relevant to any of us?

Some say societal happiness is a reflection of social progress and one way of measuring heath and well-being, according to Dr Jenny Brockis, medical practitioner and author of the book Future Brain.

“It’s also been reported that happy people are more productive, more engaged and more effective when working in teams, which naturally has positive economic implications for the workplace,” she said.
 
“Considering we spend around 1/3 of our lives at work, discovering how to increase our level of happiness at work would appear to be time well spent especially as research has shown it’s possible to change how happy we are.”

The Scandinavians even have a word for it: arbejdsglaede.

Whether you consider yourself a happy person or not, we all have a happiness set point determined by a combination of genetic factors (50%), circumstances (10%) and our intentional activities (40%), added Dr Brockis.

“The actual percentages may vary from person-to-person, but the implication is you have the potential to shift your set point either way,” she said.

“Happiness isn’t a one off event such as winning Lotto, rather an ongoing commitment towards adopting a more positive outlook on life, through choosing to view the world through an optimistic and enthusiastic set of lenses.”

Dr Brockis said five ways to find some extra arbejdsglaede include:

Finding the meaning

Discovering the upside of what you do and why you do it provides a sense of purpose and contributes to the bigger picture. Noting those small positives that occur across your day helps to lighten mood, strengthens relatedness and builds resilience to adversity. A more positive outlook can boost productivity by around 30% that also leads to a greater sense of achievement.

Spreading some positive germs

Smiling alerts your brain’s reward circuitry, keeping you in a more positive mood. Smiling more begins with a decision and putting in the practice when sharing a cheery hello when arriving at work, smiling when speaking on the phone or when joining others in a meeting room. Because emotions are contagious, the greater the intensity of your positive germs the more you’ll infect others around you too.

Connecting with others

We are wired to connect. Our ability to form relationships with others is as important for our survival as food, water and shelter. Feeling part of an in-group is important in determining how much we contribute or collaborate with others. Seeking commonalities of interests, calling someone out for doing something well, or doing a good turn builds trust and greater collegiality.

Having some self-compassion

Recognising you need to take the pressure off before reaching breaking point is important for managing stress levels and maintaining mental well-being. Taking time out for a short break, a quick stretch, some exercise, a meditation or relaxation practice can help lighten our cognitive load, making it easier to stay focused, calm and in control of your decision-making and problem-solving processes.

Practice doing fun things

Beyond work, it’s about connecting with people and engaging with those activities that make you feel good and find pleasurable. Hanging out with friends, playing sport, going to the movies, singing or dancing elevates those feel good hormones including dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins that elevate mood, help you to keep things in perspective and contribute to your overall level of happiness.

Related stories:

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How mindfulness boosts productivity and company culture 

How HR can help workers cope with change fatigue
 

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