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Happiness at Work – 12 Simple Ways to Make it Happen!

Happiness at Work – 12 Simple Ways to Make it Happen!
Happiness at work - we can all have it!

If you are a relatively junior employee at your company, though you carry out a very important role, you may not always be recognised. You might also face some of the following challenges:

  • Little fulfilment at work
  • Long working hours
  • Conflicting demands on your time and loyalty
  • Little balance between personal life and work commitments
  • Tight deadlines
  • Time management pressures
  • Strained relationships with the important people in your life
  • Tight personal finances
  • Lack of any say at work
  • Internal politics and a rigid company structure
  • Bullying within the workplace
  • Few promotional opportunities

You are therefore faced with a number of dilemmas in your workplace.

On the one hand you want to be involved in rewarding, enjoyable and fulfilling work, get recognition and promotion for your efforts, and be appreciated for the key role you play in the company.

On the other hand you want a balanced life with time for the things you really want to do with a full and interesting social life. Of course you want to have clarity about your career, job duties and you want to continue to be healthy, fit and stress free.

So what’s the best way forward?! How can you too achieve a zen like happiness at work?

One key to resolving these seemingly conflicting challenges is to get clear about just how much you love the work you do. Is what you do something you jump out of bed every morning, or would you rather be doing something else?

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How motivated are you with your work? And how do you cope with the day to day routine office work?

A UK survey last year found that almost 2 out of 3 people are dissatisfied with their jobs. And I am sure there is a similar situation in the USA and other parts of the developed world. This means that they are either apathetic about finding what they really love doing or they are resigned to being in this situation.

No matter how good things are in other parts of your life such as family, social life and relationships, work is a major part of your life, and not to be neglected.

Since for now you have chosen to be in the job you are in, it is up to you for the time being to make the most of what you do. Of course in the long term, you can either change your job or even embark on a new career. But for now, you can get to love more of what you do right now.

Assuming that in the short term you are not able to change jobs, there are a number of things you can do to begin enjoying more of what you currently do. Ask yourself – is it the job or is it you? And what can you do to make your current work more enjoyable?

Stop acting the victim. YOU are responsible for your life and if you can’t immediately change the job you are in, then it is up to you to make the most of it.

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Here are some simple tips for getting to enjoy your current job.

1. On the way to your workplace, get yourself motivated to face the day. Think of how the work you have allows you to have your life outside of it, such as a great social life. A positive attitude will make the day more pleasant and productive.

2. Keep your work in perspective. You can only do the best you can in each situation. Look beyond yourself and your work, and consider the bigger picture. Do some voluntary work to gain a broader outlook. Find a way to contribute to society in general.

3. Remember that you are more than your work. Do not have your identity too strongly tied to the job you do. Give up thinking that your work life “should” be a certain way. Such expectations of what you were supposed to be, as set by your parents and teachers, stop you from enjoying what you currently do.

4. Plan your time. In your to-do list include long term projects as well as the more imminent things that need doing. Prioritise your to-do list – do the most important things first. When performing any task, ask yourself – is this the best use of my time? Schedule in enough time for your studies etc.

5. Concentrate on the task at hand. Do not let yourself be distracted by worrying about all the other things to be done or losing energy over the undesirable situation you find yourself in. Stay in the moment.

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Be ruthless and take care of a task before it gets on a possible procrastination list. For example, sort your morning post immediately in one go – open it, file it, act on it or bin it there and then.

6. Clarify anytime you are not sure or where you are faced with conflicting demands. The more clear and upfront you are with your manager and the other people you work with, the better it will be for you in the long term.

7. Delegate wherever appropriate. Decide if there is anything that can be delegated, or that more fairly belongs to someone else’s work load. Always remember the “3D” rule – do it, dump it or delegate it – never handle a piece of paper twice.

8. Have regular breaks. Get away from your normal workplace even if only for five minutes. Try taking a break from the laptop, emails and do leave the mobile behind. Make sure that you do have that lunch break – it is not just for food but also for fresh air and a mental break.

Eat a healthy lunch and if you must snack, make sure it is healthy too – an apple rather than a bag of chips. Look for ways of energising yourself other than from adrenaline and caffeine.

9. Learn to relax no matter how challenging the work gets or how demanding your bosses become. At the end of the day it is only a job, and you are much more than that. In years to come, you will look back and wonder what the fuss was.

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10. Contribute towards creating a pleasant work environment. Do not gossip in the office as it just creates negativity all around. Do not listen to any gossip either. Minimise your time with people that you do not resonate with or like.

Learn to have more fun at work. Laugh more and chill out. Perform with a more fun orientated approach.

11. Review your day before you leave for home. Look at what worked well, and what could be improved the next day. If you feel satisfied with the day’s work, then why not reward yourself later that day. You deserve it.

12. Switch off once you leave work. You are already at work a third of your time, so do not continue to keep it buzzing in your head during your supposed free time. Mentally say good bye to your work space the moment you leave for home.

See your work as a game. Life is meant to be fun and if you are going to spend a third of it at work, you might as well enjoy the game.

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Be More Creative and Come up with Incredible Ideas

How to Be More Creative and Come up with Incredible Ideas

Regardless of how creative you already consider yourself to be, there’s a good chance you would like to level up your creative abilities.

You might want to write a better song, think of better solutions to problems at work or around the home or maybe paint a picture.

In any case, the good news is that creativity is not born: it’s made, and each one of us has the potential to be more creative and come up with incredible ideas.

“Creativity is any act, idea, or product that changes an existing domain, or that transforms an existing domain into a new one.” — Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

The definition of creativity is broad, and reminds us that creativity is not limited to artists or musicians. It does however require that we have some kind of impact on the domain in which we create.

Creativity also emphasizes values.

“The process of having original ideas that have value” — Ken Robinson

This makes up for what Csikszentmihalyi misses out. For instance, we can make a change in the world without adding significant value. Any destructive act, like smashing a window, creates change, but it doesn’t necessarily create valuable change.

In short, there isn’t one single definition of creativity It’s up to us to find a definition that feels true and useful. When you know what your standard is, It’s much easier to embrace creativity and start to cultivate it.

And in this article, you will learn how to be more creative and take a good look at what goes into the creative skill:

1. Cultivate Focus

In order to create, there needs to be a focus on creating something, whether it’s a song, a theory, a product, or a sculpture.

You could also call this “drive” – it’s the initial spark that drives the solution to a problem, or the will to get on your laptop and start typing.

However, it’s worth noting there are different stages to the creative process: the divergent stage and the convergent stage.

In the divergent stage, we want a broad focus – we want to be willing to let in lots of different inputs, ideas and insights. This is the time for brainstorming all possible ideas and solutions.

In the convergent stage, we start to narrow our focus, like a camera lens. At this stage, we start to drill down to a handful of ideas or solutions, discriminating throughout the process.

How to cultivate focus?

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Take a 20 Minute Walk

Walking away and getting your heart rate up is the best free tool you have in regaining your focus.

I know it might seem counterintuitive to take a break right when you’re at your busiest, and especially when you’re drowning in your massive to do list, but the effects it will have on your clarity and ability to focus are undeniable.

Walking is physiologically proven to release stress, and clear your mind. In fact, most of my most brilliant ideas (and some pretty terrible ones too) have occurred on my daily walks.

If you give this technique a try, what you’ll find is that you’re much more productive than you were before you took a breather.

Over time, if you do these walks daily, you’ll quickly find that your to-do list starts to feel a lot less significant, and a lot more doable. It’s all about keeping razor focused, and that’s what short daily walks will gift you.

2. Build a Structure

When I wake up in the morning, I start the day with a structure in mind. I know that 15 minutes will be dedicated to meditation, 30 minutes to coffee and reading, 20 minutes to yoga and so on.

The structure of this morning routine might be boring, but the act of each task in itself has the potential to be, on some level, “creative.”

The point of structure is that it gives you the space to make time for something you want to do. It helps you carve out the time to do your creative work. Once you begin that thing in itself, you are free to go about it however you’d like.

Without structure, we can lose focus and can feel overwhelmed with possibility. If you’ve ever looked at a blank page and felt too overwhelmed with possibility to make a mark on it, you’ll know what I mean. How much easier it gets when you are given some guidelines or a deadline?

The trick is finding the right amount of structure for you and your creative needs. Too little structure and we feel overwhelmed. Too much structure, and we risk feeling limited and stifled.

Again, it’s worth thinking about creating in those two stages: divergent (less structure) and convergent (more structure.)

How to build a structure?

Create a Morning Routine

Your morning routine doesn’t have to be rigid or so arduous you dread waking up. In fact, it should feel like the opposite. When you get a routine that works for you, you’ll look forward to starting the day.

We all have different needs and preferences which can shape our ideal routine. In the book, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey, you can be inspired over 160 different creators’ daily routines, from Charles Darwin to Pablo Picasso.

Experiment with any that take your fancy, and see how you feel with a bit more structure to start your day.

You can also take a look at this article about morning routine for inspirations: The Ultimate Morning Routine to Make You Happy And Productive All Day

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3. Find Motivation

There is a theory that suggests: people will be most creative when they feel motivated primarily by the interest, satisfaction, and challenge of the work itself — not by external pressures. This is also known as intrinsic motivation; a drive that comes from within.

Think of a time when you did some of your best work — chances are you were totally absorbed in what you were doing, to the exclusion of everything else. You were completely focused on the work itself, barely noticing time flying by.

Now think of a time when you felt under pressure to perform. Maybe it was an exam, or a commission for an important client, or maybe your boss had told you “there’s a lot riding on this.”

Notice the difference? In the first memory, you were driven by intrinsic motivation, which made it relatively easy, even enjoyable, to be highly creative.

In the second memory however, extrinsic motivation was breathing down your neck, distracting you by whispering about the rewards for success and the horrible consequences of failure: likely making it harder to focus on the task at hand.

For this reason, intrinsic motivation, if you can find it, is what separates the good from great creative work.

This isn’t to say only internal motivators help. I personally get motivated by luring myself to work with a good cappuccino at my favourite cafe. That will get me ready to write or edit or whatever I’ve been avoiding.

How to find motivation?

Connect to Your “Why”

Your “Why” is your fuel: the thing that drives you forward, that gives you a reason to do what you’re doing.

‘He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.’ — Friedrich Nietzche

When you have a reason to do something, a purpose or a goal that matters to you, you can connect your daily actions to it. Then, each act becomes infused with meaning and you find that intrinsic motivation comes naturally.

The trick is to remember your “why” and connect with it on a regular basis.

Think about how you want to feel on a daily basis. What would you like to accomplish in the next year? What would you like for yourself in the next five years? How about in your lifetime?

Ultimately, the tasks you face on a daily basis, or at least some of them, will connect to a greater purpose if you follow this path and you will find you feel more motivated to create and less resistance.

If you aren’t sure where to start looking for motivation, this will help: How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up

4. Be an Expert in a Chosen Domain

Research has shown that just as expertise in one domain does not predict expertise in other unrelated domains; creativity in one domain does not predict creativity in other unrelated domains.[1]

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So just because you can paint a pretty picture, doesn’t mean you can creatively solve a mathematical problem.

If you’ve taken one of those tests like the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking, which will ask you to think of a bazillion uses for a pencil, and scored well, unfortunately this is only an indicator of divergent thinking skills. It is not a predictor for creativity all round.

The good news is, you can train your creativity in your chosen domain. Much like a muscle, you can isolate exercises to strengthen it.

Of course you can still do a total body workout – or atotal creativity workout – but it means your creativity-training exercises need to come from a wide variety of domains; not just thinking up uses for a pencil.

How to become an expert?

Make a Mastery Training Plan

Following our physical workout analogy, it’s worth applying the habits of great athletes to your chosen creative domain. For example:

1. Decide what area/s you want to work on

Much like a tennis player who decides they need to improve their serving technique, you can decide what area within your creative domain you want to improve at. Get specific.

2. Decide how much time you can dedicate

Most of us don’t have all day to train like a pro tennis player might, but you can likely squeeze 20 to 30 minutes in a day, if you want to. Whatever the time you can allow is, decide to dedicate yourself to it.

3. Review your progress

Finally, in order to check your progress, you can take regular reviews. Decide what your metrics are, and take time each week to check in with yourself.

How many days did you practice? How did you compare to the previous week? This kind of review can help you stay on track, and actually creates more intrinsic motivation as you see yourself develop.

5. Create a Conducive Environment

A psychologist in 1943 proposed that behaviour is:[2]

“a function of both the person as well as the physical environment they are in.”

I would suggest that the act of creating is a behaviour and that, even though it begins as an internal process, it’s very much affected by and even dependent on the environment we are in.

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I started noticing how environment affects me when I worked in an office. Over time, I realized that the more people who were in or who were talking, the more distracted I was. If I got to the office early before my coworkers arrived, I was twice as effective.

I was even more effective if I was at home. Now that I work from home, I know I’m even more effective when in certain coffee shops. Ideally, places that have high ceilings, gentle lighting, some barely noticeable background music – and excellent coffee.

It’s these little variations in our environment that can really shape our creative output.

If you’re an introvert, you probably do your best work alone. If you’re an extrovert, you probably do your best work in the company of others.

This isn’t to say you should find one way of doing things and stick to it: in fact, varying your environment from time to time is a great way to stoke the creative fire too, which we’ll touch on more later.

How to create a conducive environment?

Add or Subtract Stimuli

Novelty in our environment has been shown to stimulate the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that increases our desire to seek out reward.[3]

If you’re looking for creative motivation, adding some novelty into your environment can be just what you need.

On the other hand, some people are highly sensitive and when it comes to having too much stimulation in their environment, they find it difficult to focus.

Experiment with working in different environments. Note how you feel. Note whether you do better creative work or have more interesting ideas when you’re alone or with others.

Try listening to music, people chatting or try being in complete silence. Try a dimly lit room, try working in bright sunlight.

In each case, note how you feel before, during and afterwards and rate the quality of your work.

The Bottom Line

Creativity is not one particular skill or talent one can have. It comes in as many broad and unique flavors as there are people on this earth.

To be more creative, take little steps each day. Acknowledge where and when you feel most inspired, motivated and original and spend more energy in those areas.

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Featured photo credit: Sticker Mule via unsplash.com

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