Choose To Be Happy At Work

Choose each day to be happy at work, sounds easy and some days it is. And then there are those other days. The days where everything seems to go wrong, when you’re running around putting out fires and trying to keep people happy. Those are the days that you see a quote like:

“People are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” – Abraham Lincoln

And you laugh, cry, are annoyed or some combination of the three.

Most days fall somewhere in between. How happy you decide to be on those in between days is important, because that’s where you spend a majority of your time.

So – be happy on those days. Good luck!

Ha! Wouldn’t it be great if you could read that and then just go and be happy at work! Maybe someday it’ll be like that, but for now, it’s perfectly fine if that’s not how it works for you.

However, I completely agree with the quote at the beginning of the post.

But how do you decide to be happy each day? Especially when you’re having a day when everything goes wrong?


Late last year I attended a meeting where they had a four woman panel discussing their lessons on trying to have it all (the elusive work-life balance). These four women are all highly successful in their fields of choice, four different fields, yet there were several similarities in their responses to the various questions.

One line of questioning centered on the obstacles they’ve overcome or continue to be challenged with. The common answers were: negative self-talk, feeling like they should be farther along than they are and not knowing how to pick themselves up after running into a difficult problem.

I share the obstacles first because it’s important to note that no matter how successful someone is – their problems really aren’t that different from everyone else’s. The real difference is our own perception of them.

When talking about what they appreciate, the answers again were very similar. The two main responses were support systems and mentors. They all had both.

  • Support systems are the people that they go to when the day isn’t going well. The people they vent to (vent, not complain!). These are the people they know they can count on to be there for them in any situation and are generally peers. It’s great if you have that at your job, but if you don’t then seek them out elsewhere.
  • Mentors are the people who help them get where they want to be. They lead them on the path and let them know what to expect and prepare them for it. Mentors encourage and push them to be and do more than they thought they could. Each member of the panel had at least one mentor and were sure that they wouldn’t be where they are without them.

Another line of questioning was around them taking care of themselves.  Some of the answers included: a grateful spirit, laughter, one day a week of mindless activities, volunteering and time for self.

  • Grateful spirit – I talk about this one all the time! That’s what a gratitude journal is all about. It reminds you about what’s going right in your life.
  • Laughter – Not only does laughing instantly raise your spirits, I seem to remember reading somewhere that it’s also is a good abs workout.
  • One day a week of mindless activities – The examples used were doing laundry, getting groceries and watching TV. Her point was to do activities that weren’t related to her job and don’t required her to use the same part of her brain that her job does.
  • Volunteering – Some of this was being a mentor to others and some of it was getting out into the community to do charity work for a cause you believe in. Both gave them a sense of purpose and giving back.
  • Time for self – I was surprised that only one person mentioned this, although you could argue that the mindless activities fall into this category. This woman mentioned that it was important to her to have a little time to herself each day to exercise. And if she didn’t have enough time to exercise – she made sure she had some time to sit and relax without other distractions.

Ok, back to the original question: How do you decide to be happy each day? Especially when you’re having a day when everything goes wrong?

If you look at the bulleted items above, you’ll find some really good suggestions.

To re-iterate:

  • Support system – People in your support system are great to turn to for advice, sharing or the occasional venting (make sure it’s venting and not complaining! Give yourself a time limit).
  • Mentors – When you need some advice, are stuck, or need to get out of a funk, give your mentor a call and get their thoughts. They bring a different perspective.
  • Grateful spirit – Think about or write down the things you’re thankful for.  It’s hard to stay in a bad mood when you have a grateful spirit.
  • Laughter – It’s also hard to stay mad or upset when you’re laughing. So, go have a good laugh!
  • Mindless activities – They can take your mind off of your problems.
  • Volunteering – Doing things for others can be very gratifying and lift your mood.
  • Time for self – Sometimes bad days are an accumulation of running around doing things for other people and spending little time for ourselves (ever thought this: Wait? It’s what time?! And I haven’t had lunch yet!). When you’re having a bad day take some time for yourself to relax or just breathe (one women on the panel mentioned her 10 seconds of Zen – when she just stops, closes her eyes and focuses on breathing).

There is no one right way to be happy each day – there’s only what works best for you.  Play around with these suggestions and anything you currently do to find what works best for you.

Photo credit: smile! by seanbjack via flickr

2 thoughts on “Choose To Be Happy At Work

    1. You must work with a lot of different types of people in Security!
      Which tip works best for you Jackie? Or which tip will you try for a week to see how it works for you?

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