How to experience more joy at work

“To love what you do and feel that it matters—how could anything be more fun?” Katharine Graham, the first female CEO of a Fortune 500 company (the Washington Post Company).

A few months ago, I was talking with my brother about a program I was developing with a colleague. I told him how much fun I was having working with her on this project. He remarked, “Fun, at work?” I exclaimed: “Yes, absolutely. We do good work together and have a great time in the process.” His response, “Based on my career history, that’s pretty rare.”

The data on this subject varies, and I’m using the words fun, joy, and happiness to mean one in the same. One study in a CNBC survey reports 85% of US workers are happy with their jobs. In 2013 a Gallup report, only 30% of the U.S. workforce is satisfied and happy on the job. While Google discovered a 37% increase in employee productivity when they implemented strategies focused on employee support and satisfaction. And interestingly enough Harvard researcher and author, Shawn Achor, found that happiness is the key to success, not the other way around. When we are feeling positive, our brain works significantly better, allowing you to be smarter and more creative. According to Achor, “Only 25 percent of job success is based upon IQ. Seventy-five percent is about how your brain believes your behavior matters, connects to other people, and manages stress.”

So, if you feel stuck in a job you dislike is there anything you can do besides look for other work? Yes, there is. Practice gratitude. In Achor’s work he found that when workers spent two minutes to take four quick actions, it improved their happiness over the long term. Those four actions were:

Writing down a meaningful experience they had in the past 24 hours. Our brain is wired to default to remember negative experiences because the number one job of our brain is to keep us safe. Our ancestors couldn’t stop to smell the roses, if they did, a hungry animal would have them for dinner. In order to keep you alive your brain is constantly scanning the environment for danger. Positive experiences are like Teflon, they slip away. Tracking a positive experience keeps it alive in your memory and makes it much sticker – like Velcro.

Writing down three things you are grateful for. Keep a small journal and record those three things at the end of each day.

Writing a positive message to someone — and then sending it to them via Facebook or another social media platform. Everyone loves to get encouraging words.

Meditate. Don’t believe mediation works? Google the story of Dr. Joe Dispenza and discover how a daily mediation practice changed his life.

Ready to make a commitment to having more fun and finding joy on the job? Post one action step here.