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Making happiness at work a habit

Happiness at work

Feeling content for eight or more hours a day while you’re on the job might seem like a fantasy. But it doesn’t have to be, says Paul Fornell, MS, a mental health therapist and instructor in the master’s in counseling program  at the University of Phoenix New Mexico Campus.

“By becoming more aware of your thoughts and doing small things every day to cultivate a positive mindset, you can train yourself to feel happier, no matter what your environment might be,” Fornell explains. Here, he offers five ways to be happy at work:


Express gratitude.

Begin each workday by jotting down a list of everything you’re grateful for. This simple act can positively affect how you feel for the rest of the day, Fornell maintains.

“The hard part is taking the time and making the commitment to do it,” he notes. “You need to do it often enough over time so that it becomes a daily habit.”

Meditate daily.

Engage in a short meditation halfway through your shift. Consciously focus on something peaceful or soothing for two minutes while closing your eyes, Fornell suggests. “This is something you can do right in your office chair.”

Research shows that blood pressure goes down during meditation, as do stress levels, he notes.

Take ownership of your happiness.

People tend to blame others when they have a bad day at work. But Fornell says blame throwing won’t improve your frame of mind. Instead, he says, “you will feel happier if you take responsibility for how you are feeling at work and try not to let the behavior of other people get to you.”

Making this effort takes concerted practice, Fornell acknowledges. But, he says, “you can accomplish a lot by being mindful, which is the conscious effort of controlling your thoughts to not allow external things over which you have no control to bother you.”

Exercise during lunch.

“There is … research out there that shows that endorphin production and other brain chemistry is positively influenced by physical activity,” Fornell says.

He suggests that, in addition to eating during your lunch break, you walk briskly for 15 to 20 minutes to help improve your mental outlook.

Seek nurturing colleagues.

When you mingle with co-workers, Fornell says, “try to connect with [those] who you find to be nurturing individuals. If you actively seek out supportive people on your lunch hour and breaks, you can carry those positive feelings into the rest of the day.”

Even if an interaction is short, he notes, “you can train your mind to stop and pay attention to that moment, [and] you can begin to train your brain to have happier thoughts and experiences on a regular basis.”