Dr. Andreea Vanacker, CEO of SPARKX5, a mental well-being technology company. Author of 3 books, resilience/leadership speaker.
A quote often attributed to Albert Einstein says: “There are only two ways to look at life. One is as if nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” Despite the ups and downs, and even in an environment that can be as stressful as the office, we must not forget to celebrate life, smile and find bliss along our journey. This can be as simple as smiling at a co-worker or smelling a gifted bouquet of flowers. As enjoyment levels rise, dopamine increases in our brains, which in return lowers stress and strengthens our immune system. Below are a few tips to bring more joy to your daily activities in a professional setting.
Search for beauty.
Research by Winifred Gallagher for her book Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life demonstrates that by choosing to pay consistent attention to beauty and the positive events around you, your happiness can increase in less than a week. Every encounter and situation in the office, every co-worker who crosses our path is a blessing, and there are always opportunities for learning, discovery, giving and sharing.
Executives, who wish to amplify the positive thinking within their teams, can consider making small changes to their corporate environments by surrounding employees with more beauty and color. That way, searching for beauty becomes almost effortless for them. Enhancing the mood this way can fuel productivity and creativity. Find ways to create environments that are more welcoming and where employees look forward to working in daily.
Have more fun.
I have always believed in the importance of having fun not only in our personal lives but also in our work environments. From my perspective, having fun in the workplace is also about bringing the team together. This togetherness creates new possibilities that would be difficult to achieve otherwise, and my focus has always been on how can I help create experiences that will be fun and memorable for everyone.
Outings and shared activities can bring a team together. For example, to instill fearlessness, my team has walked over hot coals and zip-lined. To help foster compassion between team members, we have built bikes for underprivileged kids, and to drive increased collaboration and creativity, we have gone dragon boat racing and visited various museums. Purposeful team building, which starts with a clear intention that goes beyond just bringing the team together and having fun, can unblock barriers and beliefs that may be standing in your way to achieving success within your organization.
After years of doing fun team-building activities, I have experienced firsthand the creativity and productivity benefits supported by studies like the Harvard Business Review’s on laughter at work. In fact, according to another HBR study, leaders with a sense of humor are seen as 27% more motivating and admired than those who do not joke around.
Choose positive words.
Words have great power, not only to change our minds but also to change our mood. The authors of the book, Words Can Change Your Brain, write that “a single word has the power to influence the expression of genes that regulate physical and emotional stress.” Positive words, such as “happy” and “love,” can improve your brain’s cognitive function, and build resiliency.
Even a single negative word activates our stress hormones, and this hinders our cognitive ability. For example, saying “not bad” when people ask “how are you?” evokes more negativity and hinders our ability to be in a positive mood. This is true whether we are reacting to spoken words delivered by someone else or to the inner self-talk that we hear ourselves “saying” inside our heads. As a leader, make sure to carefully select your words. In the long run, it just might impact the well-being and productivity of your employees.
Learn to be happier.
We often make our happiness conditional to something we want. This often leads to statements such as, “when I get the promotion, I will be happy,” or “when I achieve a specific professional milestone, I will be happy.” Although we tend to attach our happiness to external events, this is in fact an illusion. Research by Sonia Lyubomirsky for her book, The How of Happiness, has indicated that 50% of our happiness is genetically predetermined, 40% is the result of our own personal outlook and only 10% of our happiness is based on our life circumstances.
Therefore, how we see the world and our life plays a far greater weight on our happiness than that promotion or new client. So, your happiness is not entirely linked to your job, your life circumstances or your financial situation. It is more about your attitude or your reaction to specific situations. And this is something you can fully control. Even understanding this fact in a work setting can help you relax and perform better. One study demonstrated how productivity increases by an average of 12% when employees are happy.
Leaders can educate employees about the importance of a positive mindset and how it can influence their mood and performance. While at work, encourage employees to look at the upside of the challenge you may be facing and leverage their strengths to find the optimal solution to the situation that is causing stress.
Bring joy into your business.
Joy is accessible to you now, and it starts with self-awareness and self-control. I encourage anyone in a high-stress work environment to let go of past emotions that are dragging you down and shift your attention to the present moment by focusing on your gratitude for everything that brings you happiness. From the words you use to the things that you focus on, you can elevate your own joy as well as the joy of the people at your workplace.
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