Few of us think about the workplace as a particularly happy place. Work is work—right? To some extent, that’s true—working harder and longer hours isn’t necessarily going to make us happier, in fact, the latest science tells us that the opposite is true.
According to Emma Seppälä—science director for Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education—hundreds of neuroscience and psychology studies confirm that all that hard work isn’t going to bring you the happiness—and success—that you seek on the job. Instead, what we need to do is find happiness first. And when we’re happy at work, then success will naturally follow.
As Emma explains in her book, The Happiness Track, “Happiness—defined as a state of heightened positive emotion—has a profound positive effect on our professional and personal lives. It increases our emotional and social intelligence, boosts our productivity, and heightens our influence over peers and colleagues.”
The good news is that there are a variety of scientifically proven ways we can build our happiness at work, while becoming more successful. These include the following seven strategies:
1. Live (or work) in the moment
Instead of always thinking about what’s next on your to-do list, or staring at the screen of your smartphone, focus on the task at hand, or the person who is standing right in front of you. Give them your full attention. You will become not only more productive as a result, but you will also be more likeable and charismatic.
2. Tap into your resilience
So many of us are living and working at full throttle all the time, that we drain ourselves of the resilience we need to get through difficult times. Instead of constantly running on overdrive, train your nervous system to bounce back from setbacks. You will naturally reduce stress and thrive in the face of difficulties and challenges.
3. Manage your energy
Sometimes we need to take a step back from the people and things that drain us of our energy. Rather than engage in states of mind that exhaust you, learn to manage your stamina by remaining calm and centered. When you step back—even for just a minute or two—you’ll be able to save precious mental energy for the tasks that need it most.
4. Do nothing
Setting aside time to do something that isn’t directly related to work can give your mind the break it needs to perform at a much higher level. This means making time in your life for idleness, fun, and irrelevant interests. You will become more creative and innovative and will be more likely to come up with breakthrough ideas.
5. Be good to yourself
We all can be hard on ourselves—especially when we fail in a work assignment or when we fall short of achieving an important task or goal. Instead of being so self-critical, make a point of being compassionate with yourself. Not only will you improve your ability to excel in the face of challenge, but you will also be more likely to learn from your mistakes.
6. Step outside your comfort zone
All of us naturally become comfortable with our daily work routines, and we tend to play it safe when we should be taking risks. Remember that your brain is built to learn new things and to step outside of our comfort zone—that’s how we attain new skills and expertise.
7. Show compassion to others
Instead of focusing only on yourself, be compassionate with those around you, and maintain supportive relationships with your co-workers, boss, and employees. Doing so will dramatically increase the loyalty and commitment of your colleagues and employees, thereby improving productivity, performance, and influence.