At Lifehack we talk a lot about happiness, and (in my opinion) general happiness is the accumulation of many days of contentment with one’s circumstances.  Therefore, being happier isn’t necessarily a matter of making massive changes in your life.  In fact, it’s often more about minor adjustments.  Here are eight small things you can do so that you feel better about yourself at the end of the day.

1. Cut the Fat

Where you can, eliminate parties from your work who don’t really need to be involved.  The more cooks, the less likelihood there is that anything delicious will be made in the kitchen, and this inevitably leads to frustration.  Instead of spending every day in consensus-building meetings, strive to gain greater control over your work responsibilities  – consulting managers or mentors when YOU feel it will be helpful.

2. Set an Aggressive Deadline

Most people work more efficiently under pressure, and short-term deadlines ensure that you will actually have something tangible accomplished at the end of each day.  It’s better than spending chunks of time surfing the web, which may feel good in the moment but won’t put a smile on your face on the train ride home.

3. Jot Down Your Accomplishments

Meeting several tough deadlines in a row, and achieving quantifiable results while you’re at it, is something of which to be proud.  Don’t sweep it under the rug.  Keep a running list of what you’ve achieved this week and look at it frequently, especially every time your thinking turns dark (e.g. “I’m wasting my life”, “I’ll never get promoted”).

4. Have a Focused Conversation

No matter how busy you are, make an effort to stop multi-tasking so that you can spend a few quality minutes with the people who matter.  This means actively listening, contributing as appropriate, and ignoring potential interruptions.  When all of your attention is on the discussion at hand, it’s much easier to build relationships, collaborate effectively and resolve conflicts.

5. Help a Colleague

One of the most attractive aspects of volunteerism is that it helps the giver feel good about herself in addition to providing a service to society.  A non-profit related activity will obviously fit the bill in terms of increasing your positivity each day, but you can achieve the same effect by going out of your way to assist a colleague who is struggling.  You might take a project off his plate, show him how to use a new application, or offer to run his broken smartphone to the repair shop while out to lunch.

6. Walk Outside

Our energy peaks and flags at different times of the day depending on our natural body rhythms.  When you feel like you need a boost, grab your jacket and take a walk around the building or block.  Not only will the fresh air perk up your mood, but it will also remind you that you live in a world that extends beyond the sterile office environment.  And getting exercise, even when it’s of the light variety, will improve your overall health and well-being.

7. Eat a Colorful Plate

Many of us make the mistake of thinking that we’ll be more productive if we forego lunch and eat a candy bar at our desks, but this is not the case.  Skipping meals regularly leads to increased fatigue and depression, and decreased mental acuity.   You’ll feel so much better when 6PM arrives if you stop, go down to the cafeteria, and eat a hearty lunch comprised of at least two-thirds fruits and vegetables.  As a general rule, the more colorful your plate is, the more nutritious.

8. Don’t Compromise Your Values

Don’t let anyone, senior executives or otherwise, talk you into doing something you feel is morally wrong.  You may get caught or you may not, but committing ethical violations is a fast way to destroy your sense of self-worth.  Tell the person asking that you don’t feel comfortable in an assertive but non-judgmental tone.  If you are pressed or the situation becomes otherwise intolerable, consider speaking to your HR representative.

(Photo credit: Time Card via Shutterstock)

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