A little over three years ago I decided to embark on an 8-week mindfulness and meditation course. I wanted to find a way to be happier, calmer, and more present in my personal life, but for some reason I still wasn’t feeling completely content with life. Around the beginning of this year it hit me: in order to truly be happy, I had to feel good in all aspects of my life. And a big part of that was my work. Since then, I’ve decided to put these five practices to use every day at work, and for the first time in years I feel motivated, energized, and excited to go to the office every day.
Give gratitude to get gratitude.For some reason, we’ve all gotten accustomed to going through our workday as quickly as we can. There’s barely time to breathe, let alone give our colleagues a pat on the back, right? All it takes to make a colleague’s day is a quick one-line email with a simple “hey, thanks for X today.” It can turn around even the sourest of Mondays. Make it a point to do this once a day, and you’ll be amazed at not only how much happier your colleagues are, but how much happier you are.
Celebrate the little wins. It’s human nature to dwell on the most unpleasant thing happening in your life at any given time. Instead, make a conscious choice to dwell on the positives by writing a list of 3 things that went great that day at work – they can be accomplishments you’re proud of, projects you finished on time, or even a pleasant conversation you had with a client or coworker. Doing this exercise every day will train your brain to be in a more positive state naturally, and will help you feel fulfillment in your work.
Exercise your mind. Your brain is a muscle, so just like your body, if it’s not being exercised it’s going to be less efficient. When you’ve been doing your job for so long that autopilot takes over, it’s easy to feel complacent, but you can fight that feeling by simply learning something new every day. For me, it’s listening to an interesting podcast on my way to work each morning to stretch my thinking muscles. After that little “brain workout,” my head is ready to get in the zone and I’m much more present in accomplishing my goals for the day. Make it a pointto read an article, research something that’s interesting to you, or even get caught up on the news.
Exercise your body. There’s a reason many of the world’s most successful CEOs talk about the importance of starting their day with a good sweat sesh. There really is nothing more powerful for your overall state of mind than a good workout. By now, I’m sure you’re familiar with the buzzword, “endorphins,” so it should come as no surprise that getting a consistent dose of them each day or week has the ability to heighten your resting state of happiness. This makes you more alert, less stressed, and more productive during your workday! Even if you don’t have time to hit the gym it’s easy to take 15 minutes out of your lunch break to do a brisk walk around your office building, or a few yoga poses in a conference room. In fact, you can even kill two birds with one stone and listen to a good podcast while you do some jumping jacks at your desk!
Be intentional. Remember when you first started your job? You were conscious of every single thing you were doing. You were deliberate in your actions because you couldn’t just switch your brain off. Every task was new and challenging, so it took a lot of intentionality to get things done. Remember the first time you sold a client? Or built your first report? Or created your first campaign? The overwhelming feeling of satisfaction you felt wasn’t by accident. It was because you were present in every single moment. Recreate that sense of fulfillment by being intentional in your actions again. I once had a monthly project that was looming, that I had done maybe a dozen times before, and I dreaded doing it again for the sheer boredom it evoked. This time, I decided to do each task with the intention of giving it 100% and making the best end result I could (even though it was just a monthly report). The result? Not only did I finish it 2 days before the deadline, but I got major props from my manager for the additional information I included in it, and *bonus* I had fun doing it.
With the New Year right around the corner, there’s no better time than now to start incorporating more gratitude at work and flip your status quo on its head. Just like it takes one person’s bad attitude to ruin a team’s work culture, it only takes one positive person to start building an amazing work environment. That person can be you!