Want To Be Happy at Work? Dozens of Tips, Plus a Few Quizzes, To Consider.

Every Wednesday is Tip Day.
This Wednesday: Want to be happy at work? Here are dozens of tips, plus a few quizzes to consider.

One issue that comes up frequently in the area of happiness is — no surprise — the relationship of work to happiness. How to be happier at work. Why happiness is good for business. How to feel happier if you’ve lost your job. Etc.

Happiness is a critical factor for work, and work is a critical factor for happiness. In one of those life-isn’t-fair results, it turns out that the happy out-perform the less happy. In addition, they work better with others, because people prefer to be around happier people, who are also less likely to show counterproductive behaviors like burnout, absenteeism, counter and non-productive work, work disputes, or retaliatory behavior than are less-happy people.

Of course, happiness also matters to work simply because work occupies so much of our time. Also, work can be a source of many of the elements necessary for a happy life: the atmosphere of growth, social contact, fun, a sense of purpose, self-esteem, recognition.

So, for your reading convenience, I’ve put together a list of posts that I hope are helpful on the issue of work and happiness:

16 tips for feeling happier at work.

Why happiness is good for business.

How employers can boost the happiness of their employees.

Quiz: Is the design of your office space making you happy? Or driving you crazy?

9 tips for feeling happier when you’ve lost your job–or fear you might.

Quiz: How fun is your workplace?

A problem in happiness: “Drift.”

Quiz: Are you drifting?

What issues have I overlooked? What are your tips for feeling happier at work, or happier about work?

* A thoughtful reader sent me the link to this hilarious chart, A flowchart to lifelong happiness. Yes, this one page just about sums things up!

* It’s Word-of-Mouth Day, when I gently encourage (or, you might think, pester) you to spread the word about the Happiness Project. You might:
— Forward the link to someone you think would be interested
— Link to a post on Twitter (follow me @gretchenrubin)
— Sign up for my free monthly newsletter (about 46,000 people get it)
Buy the book
— Put a link to the blog in your Facebook status update
— Watch the one-minute book video
Thanks! I really appreciate any help. Word of mouth is the BEST.

  • often just having my desk area tidy (and some fun clips, like you show) make the work day less of a grind.

    fyi — i am doing a cookbook giveaway on my blog. williams somoma grilling !! bestwishesmarie.blogspot.com

    best wishes, marie

  • Work is such a delicate issue because it brings up our fears of survival. I have noticed in recent years that I was feeling stressed at work because I was worried about the longevity of my job. That in turn made me a less happy employee. Since then I have realized that I can be happy no matter where I work and that has freed me up to be in a better mood. So ironically now I am happier at work.

    So I guess my key to happiness at work is to realize that it’s not the end all, be all of my life.

  • Hi Gretchen – First, thank you for all you do in your quest to help others live happily. I am personally of the belief that happiness is our purpose and should be our intention – not some pot-luck after thought when we finally meet our self-imposed “if onlys”.

    This is such an all important topic – being happier at work, when you consider how many hours, weeks and years we spend working. I’d like to offer you and your followers a few thoughts.

    One of our biggest sources of unhappiness and stress creeps in to that gap between what we want to be doing and what we are actually doing. I like to call it the anxiety gap. It’s the mom who stresses at work because her mind is on home and stresses at home when her mind is on work. Close the gaps and be happier by upping present-moment focus. Keep your mind focused on doing the task at hand the best you possibly can instead of spending your time wishing things were different. If you’re unhappy at work, your only two choices are to go do something else that will make you happy, or simply choose to not resist your current circumstances. Bascially just decide to do what you’re doing happily. Yes, happiness is a choice we make. It’s a way of living, not a destination at which to arrive.

  • Mdingo98

    ok here’s the thing. i care for icu patients. it is very difficult to complete my work in a straight line. i am giving care monitoring medicating and otherwise ministering to the physiological requirements of said patients. the physician comes and asks questions that could be answered by setting foot in patient’s room, or reading the flow sheet or other documentation painstakingly completed by me. the family member has thousands of menial and not-so-menial tasks they would like me to complete NOW. never mind it might not take a BS or MS to do this thing. folks who are lost wander up and ask me to help them find someone. much of this time i am preparing medication or charting and it might not look like i am actually doing something that requires my full attention. my superiors are demanding more and more documentation. this is just a hint of what i do for 12 hours. some days i am really really grouchy and feel put upon. but this is my lot in life. the path i must walk so to speak. on those grouchy days, how do i buck up and act like i care instead of remaining sulky? ( which is a bad place to be)

    • gretchenrubin

      I just read a very interesting article — was in the WSJ? — about exactly
      this: the problem of interrupted attention for people working in ICU,
      dispensing medication, etc. One solution tried is for people to wear an
      orange vest that says ‘Do not interrupt” so that they’re allowed to think
      straight while doing important tasks!

      I wish I could remember where I read this…anyone know?

      I’ve been thinking a lot about the problem of interruption. It affects my
      happiness a lot, and my situation is nowhere near the level of yours, at

  • LivewithFlair

    This little boy on my street started a garden and pet care business, and he’s SO HAPPY. I paid him $5.00 this morning and interviewed him. http://livewithflair.blogspot.com/

  • Lsp63nc

    So what are your recommendations for being happy at work when you share a room with someone who not only finds it impossible to BE happy herself, but is determined to pick your day apart and not allow you to be happy either.
    All I want is to do my job, and be happy.
    I want to be left alone if she can’t be happy herself.
    She is toxic, but there is no way to get away from her.

    HOW do I handle this and keep, not only my sanity, but my own general sense of well being, calm, and yes, even happiness, when I’m at work?

    • gretchenrubin

      This is a HUGE happiness question. How do you deal with a happiness leech?
      How do you insulate yourself from their unhappiness, so that it doesn’t
      affect you? Emotions are infectious — that’s the psychological phenom
      called “emotional contagion.” And negative emotions are more catching than

      I wish I had some great suggestions! What has worked for people?

      • Mdingo98

        yes but i would be tempted to leave it on all day:)

    • jenny_o

      Can you talk to your supervisor? If your workmate is affecting your ability to do your job, or to remain at your job, your bosses should listen to you. If you talk to them and they won’t listen or act, then you face a different – and difficult – choice: whether to stay at the job or not.

  • Spatialrelationsconsultants

    These are such good ideas.

  • Gretchen,

    Thank you for these very practical ideas about how to make work and happiness commingle. This post reminds me that you are indeed really aiming to help people find more joy in their own lives. This blog is more than a compilation of musings; in so many ways, it is a guidebook on how to live consciously and well. Thank you.

    Insecurely yours,

  • Ana

    I liked your post. I think happiness at work should be an issue for internal communication and of course for HR.

    I put a link of The Happiness Project on my blog (which I invite you to visit: http://finashierbas.wordpress.com

  • Steph

    Gretchen – First of all, thanks for everything you’ve written on this blog. So many of your tips have helped me to become happier!

    The one area I can’t seem to turn around is work. Doing what you love is the simplest way to be happy at your job, but what do you do if that’s just not possible at the present time?

    Currently, I have a high-paying job in a field that I absolutely loathe. But, I am planning a major career change which will involve starting my own business with my husband. Unfortunately, this will be financially impossible for at least another 5 years.

    In order to get to my goal, I need to continue working in my current field, as I have no alternative for making the money I need in order to drop everything and start my business. (And yes, it has occurred to me that I could just quit now and hope I can get enough investors and bank loans to accomplish my goal, but living with neither paycheck nor savings will NOT make me happy!)

    I follow all of the tips you’ve listed in this post while in the office. But I just can’t seem to get around the fact that I can’t stand the actual work I’m doing. Any tips for how to cope with a job that you hate, but are absolutely stuck with for the foreseeable future?

  • an excellent article, Gretchen. so fabulous =)

  • Fred Urtica

    Another thing to think about is: am I in the right job? Maybe the unhappiness in your job is due you are not working on what you really want to work. I am going through this situation now.