"It’s important to feel a close connection to at least one person who’s part of your work life."
- Emma Seppälä
- Gretchen Rubin
the habit magazine
issue 6: happiness at work
"Look for a way to reinvent your own job."
- Adam Grant
How to pursuit happiness at work without it becoming another duty?
In reflecting on my own deeply held thoughts about happiness, I discovered that I have a primarily Buddhist-like belief that happiness is about the understanding and avoidance of suffering.
It's probably an inherited belief as I remember my grandmother once telling me that she did not understand why her neighbor was taking anti-depressants. For all she knew, "she should be happy". "She's isn't sick, her husband doesn't drink and her kids aren't divorced." She then added "The only thing I can think of is that she isn't getting any sex". (My grandmother wasn't too fussy about 'child-appropriate conversation' back in the day.)
It comes down to this naive and under-developed idea that if I could make all the stresses, the anxieties, traffic, micro-managing clients and non-stop pinging of smart-phone notifications go away, I would be happy. Or that worst case I can meditate my way (as I do, 20 minutes a day) out of being affected by these stressors and still be happy.
Turns out the above-mentioned 2 approaches haven't changed me into an always-smiling Buddha just yet. So it's about time we investigate this fuzzy matter of happiness in our usual pragmatic and habit-focused way!
"Embrace the suck" is one of the strategies mentioned in this magazine that I've decided to give a try for a change. Hope we'll be able to inspire you to pick up a new happiness habit too!
"Embrace the suck"
4 Habit AHA
5 Word Porn
6 Treat Yo Self
8 Speak Up or Forever Hold Your Peace
10 Do Good, Feel Good
11 The Progress Principle
13 Happiness Hormones
15 Tetris Effect
18 You've Got a Friend in Me
22 Happy Hero's
29 Reframe The Suck
34 Habit Hack
35 I Love to Laugh
37 Be The Boss That Makes Them Happy
38 Happiness Commandments
40 Eva Reads
43 The Power of Purpose
46 Get Some GRIT
47 Work is Better When You Don't Need The Money
49 Let's Have Some Fun
"Measuring happiness is about as easy as taking the temperature of the soul or determining the exact color of love."
- Darrin M. McMahon
What is happiness? It is tricky to put a definition on it. But even though it isn't that easy to define happiness, we have investigated it all over the place ;-) According to various studies happiness isn't just good for you, it is also good for the business: a cheerful worker is as much as 12% more productive! People who are unhappy at work, under-perform and are 10% less productive.
While the Chief Happiness Officers are popping up in the HR world, we have found some research we all ignored... "The pursuit of happiness at work can be exhausting, makes us overreact, drains our personal life of meaning, increases our vulnerability, makes us more gullible, selfish and lonely! Most striking is that consciously pursuing happiness can actually drain the sense of joy we usually get from the really good things we experience." (Check this article for more info!)
So, when happiness becomes a duty, it doesn't seem that fun anymore. In this magazine we make a call to stop pretending! It's normal that you experience a range of emotions at work, so don't force yourself in feeling happy at all times. Feeling 'content' at work, is often found in the little things. So that's what this magazine is all about. How to enhance your happiness, not by forcing yourself into stuff, but by applying tiny new habits that can make a difference for you in the long run.
escaping the happiness industry
check this website!
It looks like we don't even have a word for happiness at work. Luckily the Scandinavian people do: it's arbeidsglaede. "Arbeid" stands for "work" and "glaede" for "happiness". When you experience "Arbeidsglaede" you feel good at work.
According to them you will find "arbeidsglaede", if you focus on 2 things:
1) Results: when you do a good job and you are making a difference in meaningful work. (How to do this? Put the "progress principle'"into action!)
2) Relationships: you like the people you work with. (How to bond with your colleagues? Click here for some practical tips & tricks!)
So don't wait for arbeidsglaede to pop up, it is created by you! Happiness is home-made ;-) You can't make your boss, co-workers, ... responsible for your own happiness. The first step is knowing yourself better! What do you like/dislike, and apply these insights in your life. So let's take a look at some simple ways to create your own arbeidsglaede!
treat yo self!
Take a look at a funny video.
Looking at family pictures.
Checking out the growth figures of this month.
Having a FIKA with my colleague.
Putting on some hand creme.
Fur therapy: petting my pet.
Smelling something good.
Getting sushi for lunch.
Going out for lunch.
A scroll through Facebook.
Going for a walk through my garden.
A small piece of really good chocolate.
Bike ride to work.
A cup of tea in my favorite mug.
Listening to my favorite music at work.
Wearing my happy socks at work.
Bring fresh flowers to the office.
Doing 'boring' tasks while listening to a TED talk.
Going on airbnb and making wish lists of places I'd like to stay.
Buying something online.
Searching for funny quotes on Pinterest.
Painting my nails during a break.
Make water with lime & mint.
Sending fun things to my colleagues.
Checking my bank statements.
Doing an online survey.
Getting at work an hour before anyone else and leaving an hour earlier.
Making my grocery list.
Literally crossing things of my to do list.
Flossing my teeth in the bathroom.
Staring out of the window and watch the details of the view.
Having some yoghurt with fresh fruit.
A phone call to a friend.
A coffee with drops of chocolate milk in it.
Putting on some perfume.
Eating a piece of fruit.
Doing some stretch-exercises.
Googling 'cute animal pictures'.
Listening to David Attenborough's voice.
Reading the news.
Cleaning my desk.
Throwing away old meeting notes.
Going for a run during my lunch break.
Skyping a colleague.
One way of making yourself happier at work, is to treat yourself when running low on energy and happiness hormones. Research shows that when you get yourself a little treat, you gain self-control in the long run! It’s one of the 'secrets of adulthood' Gretchen Rubin mentions: "If I give more to myself, I can ask more from myself." But what are small, "healthy" treats that work? We asked the sales managers at BPost to share their 'treat-list' with us!
Didn't found what you were looking for? Take a look at this video and search for treats that are situated in your "happiness quadrant"!
take a break with the happiest picture on the internet
speak up, or forever hold your peace.
what would make you happy?
Put a fixed item on the agenda of your team meetings: what would make you happy? Don't make this a "fluffy" item, but one where people can make requests for improvements on current working methods.
Who is responsible for your happiness at work? Is it your boss? Your colleagues? Your company?... Oh, wait, it's you! Once you know what makes you (un)happy, it is essential that you speak up! It is your job as an employee to talk to your manager about things that make you unhappy, especially when they are fixable.
do you remember this time when we...
Talk about the past with your boss! What was it in previous projects you loved doing/you hated doing? This will help your manager to get a bigger picture of what makes you happy/unhappy.
what's on my mind...
Share what keeps you awake at night.
I am worried that our company is moving towards ...
I can't work when...
I feel like we should re-evaluate process x.
It is your duty to show some radical candor, in order to become happier at work.
the most important thing to me...
Be explicit about what it is that you value most at work! The most important thing to me is... working with lovely co-workers/working in a creative environment, ... What is the most important thing to you? Share it with your boss/colleagues.
within this and a year...
Share your dreams at work. What are you passionate about? Within this and a year, I want to have more time to work on project x, focus on x instead of y, ... By doing this, your manager/colleagues will gain insight in what would make you (un)happy.
the heart that gives, gathers.
do good, feel good
Get inspired by 'The free help guy'
In order to be happy at work, it is equally important to be able to give support, as it is to get support from your colleagues! When helping others, we feel happier and more connected. Research shows that depressed people are more wrapped up in their own emotions and disconnected from others. So increase your own happiness, not by focusing on yourself, but by shifting your attention to elevating the happiness of others! How to do this without going over the top and becoming the "Ned Flanders" at work? Find some inspiration in these 'random acts of kindness'.
random acts of kindness
Give a positive comment on how well somebody parked their car - Bring the papers from the printer to your colleague - Hold the elevator - Share your food with your colleagues - Bring cake to the office - Make a smoothie for your colleagues - Help somebody who is swamped with work - Send a funny quote - Laugh with someone's jokes - Write positive sticky notes & put it on their screens - Bring a souvenir after a holiday - Fix something (an IT issue, a jammed printer, ...) - Teach a colleague something - Text 'good luck' before an important meeting - Bring them clothes you don't wear anymore, but are too nice to throw away - Put on their favorite song - Give somebody a genuine compliment - When everyone around you is gossiping about someone, be the one to say something nice - Compliment someone to their boss - Give someone a book you think they’d like - Keep an extra umbrella at work and let someone borrow it on their way home if it's raining - Get the security guard/the receptionist/... a coffee - Sit for lunch next to somebody who is eating by himself - Tell your boss how much you’ve learned from him over the years - Decorate the desk of the birthday person - Be super enthusiastic when people have good news! -
for more inspiration - check out randomactsofkindess.org
- Theresa Amabile
1. become aware of your 'tailwinds'
Sometimes we feel like something is blocking our progress (= the headwind that is bugging us), but don't notice the "tailwind" that helped us in making progress. Reflect at the end of your working day on those "tailwinds": what were the things that helped you make progress today? And become aware of your "hidden" progress at work!
2. Chunk your work
Divide your tasks into little chunks. By doing that you will experience 'small wins' throughout the day when you accomplish them.
3. The list
Start your day with making a to do list with tasks you want to accomplish today. Cross them off when finished. This will make your progress visible to you!
"It's forward momentum in meaningful work-progress-that creates the best inner work lives."
the progress principle
Another way to boost your "arbeidsglaede" is to achieve results at work. This matches with the research of Theresa Amabile! According to her the single most important factor for engagement in the workplace, is the progress principle: people have great days at work when they are making progress in meaningful work. It can lift their inner work life! Achieving results, does make us happy. So what are tiny habits that could help you with this?
you decide - Subscribe or not?
Want to know more?
read "habits of a happy brain"
Your brain isn't built to make you feel happy, it just helps you to survive! So it is absolutely normal that you aren't feeling happy all the time. Luckily you can train your brain to feel good in new ways. How?
step 1 Understand how your happy hormones (dopamine, endorphin, oxytocin & serotonin) have a grip on you.
Step 2 Design new habits that trigger these "happy hormones" and increase your happiness at work.
Dopamine motivates you to get what you need, even when it takes a lot of effort.
happy survival motive:
Seeking a reward.
habits to boost oxytocin
1. Connect with people you dislike. Start with small things (making eye-contact, smiling, having a chat about the weather, ...) , be positive in your expectations, and slowly build a new shared foundation.
2. Be trustworthy.
Honor your commitments and then pause just a second to enjoy being a person who is delivering the promised results.
3. Do a trust-check.
Trust new people, and verify next if they are worthy of your trust. By trusting, and verifying, new trust can grow, and you will be able to expand your circle of trustworthy people.
habits to boost endorphin
1. Take time to laugh.
Laughter is a release of fear! Search for triggers that make you laugh & maximize these.
2. Accept a negative feeling. Don't suppress it, but feel free to let it go & relieve the tension (even by crying!).
3. Exercise differently. Try a different variant of your exercise routine. Working out differently will stimulate endorphin-flow, like you went to the gym for the very first time!
4. Slow movements. Endorphin is also stimulated when you stretch! So do daily desk-stretches or try something like Tai Chi or Qi Gong!
happy survival motive:
Build social alliances
habits to boost serotonin
1. Express pride in something you have done, once a day. Say 'look what I did' to someone else. You will expect a positive reaction, and if you don't get it, you will learn that it doesn't kill you ;-)
2. Enjoy your social position.
When you are an employee, notice the advantages of not having to make the difficult decisions. When you are a manager, enjoy the moments of respect and choice. Notice your status frustrations, and remind yourself of your advantages!
3. Notice your influence.
Notice when others mirror your good example! Don't expect credit for it, just enjoy!
Endorphin motivates you to ignore pain, so you can escape from harm when you're injured.
happy survival motive:
Ignore physical pain.
habits to boost dopamine
1. Find a small daily win.
Every day find some success & celebrate a small victory: tell yourself 'I did it!'.
2. Take 10 minutes a day to take a step forward to a new goal. This will help transform a dream into reality.
3. Spend 10 minutes a day on a dreadful task. This will help you chunk it into manageable parts.
4. Adjust the bar. Experiment with lowering the bar in areas where you have set yourself impossible goals and raising the bar in places where you've set it so low that you feel no reward.
Serotonin motivates you to get respect in a group, which protects you in the long run.
Oxytocin motivates you to trust others, to find safety in companionship.
happy survival motive:
Get respect from others
Did you know that a setback at work is three times more powerful than a positive experience? It's just easier to remember the things that went wrong, than the happy stuff at the end of the day! Our brain is, by nature, wired to spot "potential dangers" & negativity.
But in 2009, a study demonstrated how the game "Tetris" can affect the brain’s plasticity, or the brain’s ability to change structurally! Whenever you do specific tasks over and over again, they take up less of your brain power over time. This research shows that it is possible to rewire your brain to see the bright side of life!
According to happiness-expert Shawn Achor we can retrain the brain to scan for the good things in life—to help us see more possibility, to feel more energy, and to succeed at higher levels. By doing this, you will create a "positive Tetris-effect" in your brain.
One way to do this, is to notice the happy/positive things at work! We did a little experiment with the office cuties & asked them to take pictures of things that made them happier at work. We have taken the first step of rewiring our brain. Ready to join our experiment?
This is what made us happy! -->
too many belts
tiny koala ->
going for a run
bonding at work - not a quick fix
What's important is that when someone confides in you, you keep this confidential.
- Petra Schyvynck
You are great at bonding with people. What are tips/habits you would recommend on strengthening the relationships with your colleagues?
I’m a keen and enthusiastic talker, but I’m also good at listening. I pick up things that I can repeat later on. Some colleagues find it surprising that I remember those things. I usually tend to be very clear about what to expect from me.
I am a "doer" by nature, so I like to handle things. I notice that this enables me to get some colleagues motivated who are more negative than me or more careful in their approach. They always tell me that my glass seems to be half full instead of half empty …
Do you speak up when something doesn’t work for you at the office? How do you handle this without damaging the relationship with your colleagues? Any tips on that?
Yes, I will always give feedback and ask about the reason of certain things or events. When you do this in an honest and constructive manner, no one minds. Suppose they won’t answer my question simply because they can’t, then that’s an acceptable answer too. What’s important is that when someone confides in you, you keep this confidential. You could help this person by just listening and giving advice if suited. Only when they are ready to share, they will talk about this with others.
you've got a friend in me
Did you know that isolation is a big roadblock when it comes to happiness at work? Research shows that if you question whether there is a community or even one friend you can count on at work, you will enter a mode of self-preservation and isolation. This isolation could lead into tremendous amounts of stress and can even result in sickness! A 20-year longitudinal study of healthy employees found that people with social support from coworkers were two and a half times less likely to die prematurely than those without! Damn... We really REALLY want other people to like us at the office. It's that simple. Bonding at work with your colleagues, can increase your happiness at work dramatically. So we were curious, and asked one of our most happy customers, Petra Schyvynck from Belfius Insurance, what her secret is for keeping good relationships at work.
How do you keep your happiness level/the happiness level of your colleagues high when times are tough? (for example: high work pressure, somebody got fired, lots of changes, just another rainy day…)
Even for positive-minded people this can be tricky, but I often manage to get satisfaction from small things that have succeeded. We are going through a major change right now and how exactly this will evolve...who knows? But I try to get information, do research, try to prepare, think about what I would really like to do in this new situation, … It is important to put things in perspective from time to time: "If I don’t manage to get this done today due to lack of time, what are the consequences?" Will the world come to an end? Most probably it won’t ;-) So we’ll do that first thing tomorrow.
How do you boost happiness in general at HR/Belfius Insurance? What are happiness-habits you love & would recommend to anybody?
It is key to experience pleasure and fun in your job, or you will never be able to keep going. At Belfius Insurance we actively try to keep the joy of working high with different initiatives. The work-life balance is very important, as is doing fun stuff with your colleagues. Through career mentoring, employees can actually explore what it is that really makes them happy and find out whether they have those opportunities available at Belfius Insurance. There are quite some development opportunities, because we do like to watch our people grow, no matter in which direction.
We always kick off our Monday team meeting with a question. For example: "What did you do last week, that you would like to share with your colleagues?" (this could be professional or private). The questions are diverse and it’s not always a happy story per se, but it became a habit that everyone looks forward to.
be your freaky self
Don't try to be similar to your colleagues, but cultivate your authenticity! Just be yourself & talk about the quirky things you love.
eat some ice-cream
Involve your colleagues in your cravings. Craving something sweet? Get some ice-cream together! Craving fresh air? Go on a walk together! Craving a break? Have a coffee together!
this reminded me of you...
Send funny pictures/quotes to your colleagues when you stumble upon something funny that made you think of them.
(At the CUTE office we often laugh about the appetite of our office manager Liesbeth. A quote that fits her is: I'm sorry for what I said when I was hungry ;-)
what keeps you awake at night?
When somebody is drinking tons of coffee or just complains about a bad night of sleep, ask the question: what kept you awake last night? When a colleague is worried about something, you could maybe help him with his problem. A shared burden often feels lighter.
how to get started with building happy relationships at work?
Don't multi-task when a colleague is trying to talk to you. Be present in the conversation, and give him your full attention.
Follow up about something your colleague mentioned before
It's always nice to talk about things that make people enthusiastic. Is your colleague looking forward to an after-work-activity? Ask about it the next day!
ASK "deep" QUESTIONS
Often you are just talking with your colleagues, but aren't "sharing" any meaningful info. Every day, ask a question that goes deeper than "What's that strange smell in our office?" Need inspiration? Check out this list of 36 questions from social psychology researcher Arthur Aron!
search for a mutual enemy
This doesn't have to be a person! It can be a jamming printer as well that bothers you both. According to research 'bitching is bonding'. The reason these kind of conversations feel good, is because we feel understood, reassured and supported in a mutual complaint.
use "the ripple effect" in a positive way
Research shows that positive & productive energy is contagious! Use this ripple effect to influence the most negative people at work!
Sounds like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? But often, it just doesn't happen. Recognize your colleagues and just say a quick "hi", even if you are already busy with tons of work.
Watching this will make you happy!
Just like subscribing to our magazine.
we asked our happiness heroes
Charles Duhigg is a Pulitzer-prize winning reporter for The New York Times. He is also the author of Smarter Faster Better, about the science of productivity and The Power of Habit, about the science of habit formation in our lives, companies and societies.
If you could give one tip on how to increase happiness at work, what would it be?
Thanks for getting in touch and sharing your story with me. I'm glad to hear how deeply my work has resonated with Sarah, and that she's been spreading the word - that's HUGE. Wonderful to know that a reader has been so inspired and motivated to investigate habits even further.
In terms of happiness in the workplace, I think it's perhaps most important to set realistic expectations for yourself. Overloading one's plate is a guaranteed recipe for disaster. Carefully examine what you have to do, and remember to take breaks - give your brain a rest every once in a while.
Hope this helps, Charles
cute habits for setting realistic expectations
1) Lower the bar by asking yourself "What would this look like if this was easy"? (Quote Tim Ferris).
2) Have an "ambitious plan A" & a "conservative plan B": go for the ambitious plan, but make sure you have a more conservative plan in the back of your mind that will save you a lot of time if need be.
3) Go for 80% perfection instead of 100%. Believe us, nobody will notice.
4) Focus mainly on "moments of truth": what are key moments in a project & how can you focus your energy to make these stand out?
- Charles Duhigg
Overloading one's plate is a guaranteed recipe for disaster.
advice from our happiness heroes
click here for an excerpt from her book!
-Quote Emma Seppälä
EMMA SEPPÄLÄ, Ph.D is Science Director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion, Altruism Research and Education. She's the author of The Happiness Track.
cute habits on being kind:
1) API: Assume Positive Intention when a negative event happens. Most of the time, people mean well.
2) Random Acts of Kindness: Every day, do something nice for somebody. For example: bring a cup of coffee, bring papers from the printer to someone's desk, help a colleague prepare for an important meeting, ... (Click here for more inspiration!)
3) Put "Lagom working" into practice. Don't expect perfection, medium is okay.
4) Smile & say hi: Make it a habit to smile & say hi when you are walking through your building.
-Quote Gretchen Rubin
Gretchen Rubin is one of the most thought-provoking and influential writers on habits and happiness.
"Friendship is a key – perhaps the key – to a happy life, and it’s important to feel a close connection to at least one person who’s part of your work life."
Thanks for your kind email. One tip?
I'll give you four!
1. Make a friend at work. Friendship is a key – perhaps the key – to a happy life, and it’s important to feel a close connection to at least one person who’s part of your work life.
CUTE TIP: Create a WhatsApp group with your colleagues & talk about non-work related stuff.
2. Get enough sleep the night before important meetings.
CUTE tip: Set a bed-time alarm to make sure you get +- 8 hours of sleep!
3. Don’t eat free sweets or snack food at work, they only have a negative impact on your attention span.
CUTE tip:Bring your own healthy snacks to the office!
4. Working is one of the most dangerous forms of procrastination. Make it a habit that when you want to work on task x, to work on it or not doing anything else. No research, no email, no filing, no networking…either do X (write a report, fill out expense reports, review a document) or stare into space.
cute tip: Read our habit magazine on "deep work" for more tips on how to focus in a noisy world!
we love her books on happier habits!
check out her podcast 'happier'!
This is my TOP happiness tip:
If you want to become happier at work, don’t wait for your boss to do something about it. Look for a way to reinvent your own job. Use a skill or strength you aren’t leveraging, ask around about new side projects, figure out how something you love doing might help your team.
CUTE TIP: Cultivate "job crafting"! Reflect not just on the tasks/responsibilities you want to take on, but mostly on the impact you want to have in your team/organization.
Neil Pasricha is a Canadian author (The Happiness Equation, The Book of Awesome), entrepreneur, and public speaker characterized by his advocacy of positivity and simple pleasures.
This is my TOP happiness tip:
Make sure you have the 4 S's in your workplace:
- Social: friends you like.
- Structure: a reason to get up.
- Stimulation: always learning.
- Story: being part of something bigger than yourself.
CUTE TIP: Find a reason to get up in the morning! Check out the interview with Maarten Van Damme on finding your purpose!
Adam Grant has been Wharton’s top-rated professor for five years straight. He is a leading expert on how we can find motivation and meaning, and live more generous and creative lives. Author of Originals, Give and Take and Option B.
"Find someone at your level or at a lower level who deserves a compliment, and then send them a note telling them how much you appreciate what they do and how well they do it. At least two people will be happier.
Daniel Gilbert is an American social psychologist and writer. He is the Edgar Pierce Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, and is known for his research on affective forecasting. He is the author of the international bestseller "Stumbling on Happiness".
Write a happiness haiku
Write a haiku on something that is happening right now. By doing this, you will force your mind to focus on the present.
(A haiku is a form of three-line Japanese poem with a five-syllable line, followed by a seven-syllable line and ending with a five-syllable line.)
"Love working outside.
Just me and the birds singing.
Free, quiet, easy."
- Haiku of Anneleen, content manger at CUTESolutions
STRIVING FOR A HAPPIER DAY?
BE. HERE. NOW.
reframe the suck
What is positive thinking according to you? Do you have to think positive all the time?
Positive thinking is choosing the most valuable reality!
A positive mindset is all about becoming aware of the kind of thoughts that will offer you the most valuable reality. You could focus on the negative things that are happening like global warming, an insecure political climate, … or focus on the positive things that are happening right now, like a child being born, someone graduating, … It’s a matter of choosing, because these two realities cannot exist at the same time. It all comes down to optimistic realism: noticing the problems, but don’t let them paralyze you! Hopeful optimistic thoughts will strengthen you, give your brain a positive boost which will make you see solutions rather than problems. You don’t have to wear pink glasses 24/7, on the contrary: setbacks can make your grow, can make relationships stronger & give you a better perspective on what it is you want and don’t want in life.
There is a saying from the U.S. Army: embrace the suck! Meaning that when you fight what reality is giving you, you will suffer. Embracing the suck is not allowing the situation to control your attitude. 90% of your happiness is based on how your brain processes the world that you find yourself in. (Research of Shawn Achor). But our minds are actually built to look for negative information and hold on to it. It takes a lot of effort, not only to embrace the suck, but also to reframe the suck & see the up-side of things!
Acceptance plays an important role in life, and accepting gets easier when you help your mind look at the bright side. But how to do this when the going gets tough? We asked Evelien Van Dyck, CUTE facilitator & founder of 'borneo': the well-being company.
evelien van dyck,
cute facilitator & founder of borneo: "the wellbeing company"
Alison Ledgerwood, PhD in social psychology.
positive thinking takes some creativity! Click here & learn how to think differently!
Often, it feels exhausting & unnatural to reframe my negative thoughts into positive ones. Do you have tips to make positive thinking less daunting?
Train your brain to do a little a lot!
Start off every day by thinking of 3 things that you are grateful for. This rewires your brain, so it becomes good at finding positive focus. Another way could be to incorporate random acts of kindness into your day. The brain is a plastic organism: the more you do something, the better you’ll become at it. You can also shift your mood by focusing on your body. For example, 1 min of meditation a day could be a way to do this.
"Positive thinking is choosing the most valuable reality!"
This task is challenging. I feel excited when I think about it. I will give my best to improve on the parts that I don’t master yet.
Today I will train my creativity skills, starting with setting my brain on positive by watching a funny Youtube video on creativity, or giving a compliment to a creative co-worker.
I suck at my job.
This client is challenging my patience. I will communicate clearly on what I can do & can’t do in the future.
Time is a scarce resource. I will plan my priorities & start with great focus and energy.
I am not creative enough.
I don’t have enough time to work thoroughly.
How would you reframe the following things that suck at work?
What to do when the following phrases pop into your mind?
I hate this client who is micro-managing me.
I like me ;-) & my boss has to give me feedback in order to grow. Getting some negative feedback on a task, doesn't mean that he doesn't like me.
Can't get enough of reframing? Click here for even more inspiration on how not to let negative thoughts take you down!
People are always late in meetings, and I’m losing my time waiting for them.
These people have great experiences to build from. I will focus on what worked well in the past, to build the new proposal on.
I can help my colleague out with taking over some tasks while she’s sick. I’m sure helping her out will make it pleasant for her to return with positive energy.
The extra time I am waiting to start this meeting, I will use to ask my co-workers how we could make sure we develop habits to start meetings on time in the future & talk about the ‘what’s in it for us’.
When people start complaining, I will shift the focus on a strength this person has & reframe the conversation into small, positive solutions/successes.
They are THWADI-ism me again! (that’s how we’ve always done it)
My debbie downer colleagues always complain to me.
My boss doesn’t like me.
My colleague is sick, and now I have to do all the work by myself.
...and subscribing to our magazine!
cute happiness songs
Are you in need of an instant happiness booster? Give this habit hack a try!
1) Make a happy songs playlist
2) Listen to it when you are feeling down.
3) Feel the joy ;-)
Research shows that music helps to reduce your blood pressure, heart rate and anxiety. Participating in music-making can also increase our happiness & helps us bonding with others.
But be careful...while happy music (= fast tempo, written in major key) can cause happiness, similarly sad music (= very slow, written in minor key), causes a slowing of the pulse and a rise in blood pressure. So pick your songs wisely!
check out our happiness playlist with the favorite songs of the cuties!
discovering a great new song.
Feeling down? Laugh, it really works!
Studies show that there is a direct correlation between being physically relaxed and task completion, team interaction, idea generation, creativity, ... People who laugh often, have tons of health benefits: it boosts their immune system, reduces stress-related hormones, improves respiration, elevates their pain-tolerance, and they can lose up to 2 kg/year, just by laughing 15 min a day!
Laughter also strengthens one-on-one interpersonal relationships, and also plays a role in group dynamics. Laughing has a positive effect on social bonding & it enhances cooperation, even when there’s nothing particularly funny going on! Laughter just helps to create a positive emotional climate. Just what we all need... So what are work-habits that spark joy? Let's take a look!
Loud and long and clear
i love to laugh
Share funny or strange things from your kids/your pets with your colleagues. Maybe your kid said something funny the other day? Maybe your pet is showing some strange behavior?
Get yourself a Pinterest-account & share funny quotes/pictures with your colleagues, or print them & put them on the office blackboard.
acknowledge funny things
Don't try to keep up a serious image, but acknowledge funny situations & just laugh when they happen! Stop and take a moment to give everyone an opportunity to see the fun in the thing that just happened!
Share a facebook/whatsApp group
Share a Facebook or Whatsapp group with your colleagues. Only post funny things on it! This will help you to share some mutual laughs, even when you are working from a distance.
i did something stupid
Laugh at yourself at work! Share with your colleagues when you did something stupid ;-)
go pro blooper during a cute meeting
kim scott, author of the book 'radical candor'
Henry Stewart - the founder of Happy, a company in London specialized in happiness trainings.
Did you know that 49% of employees would take a pay cut to work for another manager!? How to diminish this astonishing number & not be(come) the boss they hate? With a touch of radical candor, you will come a long way! We asked the managers at Belgocontrol what they do on a daily basis to make their team happier. These are their TOP 3 answers.
1. Be positive minded.
I give frequent specific recognition to my team members!
We have our daily small-talk sessions during our afternoon coffee break. It helps to strengthen our bond & keep up a positive spirit.
3. How are you doing?
Every day when entering the CS room, I'm reminding my team it's almost Friday, and I'm asking how are they doing and if everyone is feeling well :)
Some extra CUTE habits we recommend:
4. Radical Candor
Show a genuine interest in the career of your team members & be honest with them at all times. What is working right now? What is not? What will have to change? Don't be scared to give a difficult message when needed, as long as it is genuine & given with a "caring" attitude, they will be happier in the long run!
Value your team members for their qualities & give them the freedom to set their own goals & evaluate their own work. Manage on output, not on input. Check out our habit magazine on "time management" for more info. on how to do this!
Be the boss that makes them happy
1. simplicity is key
Search for short phrases, quotes and 'buzzwords' that stuck with you and are easy to remember! Gretchen Rubin writes several ideas on her blog , like: “Enjoy the process.” “Be polite and be fair.”,“Act the way I want to feel”, ... Even when you are feeling stressed out at work, you will be able to act on them without checking your notes.
2. don't forget to be you
What are values you want to live by? What is behavior you want to show at work? This may differ from one person to the other, so really try to stay true to yourself when you are making up your list!
If you want to become happier at work, it is essential to know yourself better. What makes you happy at work? One tool that can be a tremendous help in this, is writing your personal happiness commandments! These aren’t specific resolutions, but "overarching principles" by which you try to live your life at work.
It’s a creative way of discovering your core values. Once you decided on them, remind yourself of them every single day.
tips to discover them
Do one thing that scares you every day.
Learn one new skill, every year.
Don't be afraid to be a little weird now and then.
If you feel like it, say yes!
If you don't feel like it, say no!
Search for positivity.
No need to hurry.
Observe inner chatting.
Do things from the heart.
Stay hungry, stay foolish.
Share a positive vision.
Help others when possible.
Jonathan Fields also hosts a podcast, called "The Good Life Project". Definitely recommended when you are in a philosophical mood!
In every habit magazine, we ask our CUTE facilitator Eva to review a book.
This time, she read 'How To Live a Good Life' of Jonathan Fields. Amazon states that this book is a practical and provocative modern-day manual for the pursuit of a life well lived. So what did Eva think about it? Let's take a look...
eva - CUTE consultant & facilitator
Why do we recommend it?
"How to Live a Good Life" acknowledges that wellbeing is a multifaceted concept, and the book offers very easy exercises for each of those domains; Fields writes as if he were talking to a friend (and he starts to feel like one very quickly), and the book is chock-full of heart-warming stories and tips and tricks that are both practical and evidence-based.
“Think of your life as three buckets”
That’s basically the idea behind "How to live a good life".
So…you’re telling me I’m a bucket? Excuuuuse me?
Yes, yes I am! Jonathan Fields’ theory is that our life energy can be looked upon as a container- or rather, containers of three different categories- that can be empty or full (but most likely, somewhere in between). When all three buckets are full, we are bubbling with joy and energy. When one, however, runs dry- we feel down and blue.
1. The vitality bucket is about taking care of the body you live in, but also about having a fit and energized mind.
2. The connection bucket is about having meaningful relationships with other beings, about love, friendship, passion, and a sense of belonging.
3. The contribution bucket is about having the feeling of added value, of developing and leveraging your strengths and talents.
A nice extra: The Good Life Challenges comes with an entire online community to support you, share stories and tips. If you’re up for it, join me for the 30 day challenge! Share your stories, questions and tips via email@example.com! I’ll be happy to be your Good-Life buddy, because every challenge’s just more fun if you’re not in it alone. Or to say it in the words of Jonathan Fields himself:
Grab my hand. - Everything will be okay. -We’ll do it together.
How can this help me?
Over time, our buckets become a bit rusty and dinged, and eventually they will start to leak. This means that if we don’t go around filling them, they will eventually run dry.
Do we want that?
Most. Definitely. Not.
Sooo… how to fill your buckets?
In the book, Jonathan Fields describes a couple of strategies for filling each of the three buckets. There are 30 small chapters, describing ten strategies for each of the three buckets. You can pick the bucket that needs the most attention and follow those different strategies, or you can engage in a 30 day challenge in which you complete one "daily exploration" for 30 days. The challenges are very feasible things that are both effective and fun. Among my favorites are “Dance like nobody’s watching (because they’re not)”, “Vanquish the Vampires” and “Love The Job You’re with”.
The soul, creativity or love put into something.
The essence of yourself that is put into your work.
the power of purpose
Did you know that 'having a sense of purpose' is worth up to seven years of extra life expectancy? (check "Unlocking happiness at work") But how to find this kind of purpose, and avoid becoming a "weekend-warrior" ( = people who are only truly living from Saturday to Sunday)? And can you be happy if you can't find your 'purpose', or are you doomed for a life of living for the future instead of for today?
We asked those deep questions to "enthusiasm"-expert Maarten Van Damme. He specializes in coaching people to find happiness, authenticity and purpose in their life. Curious about his answers? Read on...
"The more authentic you can be at work and in life, the safer and recognized you feel as a person."
maarten van damme - founder of enthusiasm.be
How do I find my purpose? What are great tips/habits/exercises to find out?
For me, this has even been my life goal, to find the purpose of my existence. And it still is an ongoing process. My talents and my business naturally drove me towards this niche, which makes it very "recognizable" for our customers.
I have been trying to explore this in all kinds of ways and areas. I searched it in material things, in traveling, in (extreme) sporting, in partying, in spirituality, … A good tip for finding that big "Why" is to find the silence within and to listen to your sense/intuition. This may sound a bit too far out there for some, I get that. A good way to try and do this is finding out what touches you, what moves you in daily life or on television. What is it that triggers your emotions? For myself, I learned that when something makes you cry, or at least makes your eyes burn, that it’s your soul that is guiding you to your true purpose. Every human gets a backpack of talents in life to fulfill its purpose. This can be very general and divided into different parts. For example, many people feel the purpose to help others. Whether this means being a good partner, parent, employee/entrepreneur, being involved in organizations, ... It is all a matter of finding your silence in a society that is always busy, hasty, and has an overload of information. Go looking for that piece of silence and listen what your heart, your feeling, your intuition and your nature have to say. And when you do find that purpose you keep tuning in on it, because you also keep evolving. The answer is really just hidden within yourself. A book about finding your purpose that I really recommend is “The alchemist” by Paulo Coelho.
A good way to find your purpose is to check on a daily basis what moves you in life, on television, ... What is it exactly that triggers your emotions?
How is authenticity linked with happiness at work according to you?
The more authentic you can be at work and in life, the safer and recognized you feel as a person. Being authentic, first of all, is about knowing yourself, which is a number one condition to be a strong leader in my opinion. Knowing your own strengths and pitfalls makes it easier to work together with others and be more open to feedback. Being authentic also means that you allow yourself to be vulnerable. And happiness? Happiness to me is about being who you really are, good days and bad days. That way you support each other as colleagues. This enables a supportive, authentic culture where there is room for feedback. That, for me, is the description of a happy working environment.
What is your recommended ‘TOP 3 habits’ list for more happiness at work?
1) Take good care of yourself: eat healthy, get some exercise, get enough rest, …
2) Try and get to know yourself: what are your talents, what is your purpose, how do you want to evolve, …
3) Get to know your colleagues well and become a solid team with clear goals and working agreements.
What if I don’t feel like I have a real purpose in my life/job? Is that a problem? Or can I just be as happy without a ‘plan’?
Of course you can be just as happy without that purpose. For some, it simply boils down to being happy about their job, their family life, their hobbies without asking further questions. If everyone would just be satisfied about the life they’re leading and be good to others, the world would already look like a different place. It is only when suffering, misfortune, or exhaustion/burn-out occurs that people start asking questions. “Is this really what I want?” For example people who’ve been employed at a bank, but would like to make a switch and help people in another way.
Besides all this, life is all about finding the balance between holding on and letting it go. In my opinion there is a bigger force at work guiding us in a certain direction where you have the possibility to explore your full potential and lead a life full of "purpose".
Angela Lee Duckworth
Are you living for the weekend, because you can't make your dreams come true at work? Maybe all you need for some success is GRIT: a unique combination of passion and long-term perseverance. But how to create GRIT? Follow these habits to train yourself in a grittier mindset!
2. fail forward
Gritty people search for mastery. They set specific goals to reach micro-improvements on a daily basis! Think about what it is that you could do differently today to practice a certain skill. (For example: I will practice my assertiveness by leading this meeting.)
"GRIT is passion & perseverance for very long-term goals! GRIT is sticking to your future, day in day out."
When the going gets though, remind yourself of why you are doing something. Do you still want to reach that goal? Yes? Great! Repeat this to yourself when you are feeling down. 'I am doing this, because I want... ' + stop the whining & continue.
When something fails, don't take yourself down by telling yourself that you are a big loser. Get some perspective & take a look at the mistake from a more 'objective' point of view. What went wrong? How to fix it? If this is hard for you, ask yourself the question: what would my advice be to somebody else if they came to me with this problem?
1. know & repeat your 'why'
4. go for micro-improvements
click & read!
get some grit
Gritty people show a "growth mindset". They truly believe that they can improve their talents & abilities. But why do they believe this? It's because they see the progress! Review your "growth" every 6 months. Think about the domain in which you made some progress. (For example: 6 months ago, I was working on project x. Looking back, this has taught me to...) or create a "jar of awesome" to keep up with your small wins.
3. be proud of your growth
work is better when you don't need the money
You don't fancy such a radical life style switch like Pete Adeney did? Maybe all you need is a side-hustle in order to have multiple sources of income, to create the creative & personal freedom you are longing for.
One of the reasons people don't like to go to work, is because they are feeling stuck. They are telling themselves: so this is it... my life... It might feel like you are a prisoner of the economy, and you could trick yourself into thinking that you don't want to work. But the thing is, work should be about creating something you love. It's against our intuition, but effort actually does make us happier! So how to make work not about the money? Mr. Money Mustache (= Pete Adeney) tells you all about it in this video!
Happiest animal in the world.
2. Feel the instant happiness
LET'S HAVE SOME FUN!
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