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Habits That Will Make You Happier At Work


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Shake your job up, even if you like it

Don’t rest on your laurels — even if you love your job. There is a honeymoon effect when people get their dream job, but when job satisfaction peaks it will steadily decrease. That’s the conclusion of a 2009 study of 132 newcomers to a job — “Changes in Newcomer Job Satisfaction Over Time: Examining the Pattern of Honeymoons and Hangovers” (pdf) — published in the “Journal of Applied Psychology,” the official publication of the American Psychological Association. There are “risky periods” of time when employees are likely to experience declining job attitudes and may withdraw or seek another job, it found. “People get used to the new level of responsibility and money, and they just want more,” says Lyubomirsky, who is the author of “The Myths of Happiness: What Should Make You Happy, but Doesn’t, What Shouldn’t Make You Happy, but Does.” Organize a hackathon (where computer programmers compete), check up on what rivals are doing and constantly shake up your job description.

Keep your desk clear of empty coffee cups

Once upon a time, messy desks represented a busy bee. But studies show that chronic procrastinators show signs of stress and guilt, and have more mood swings. Most people feel better when they observe habits like staying on top of their filing, emails and even throwing away old soda cans and paper cups, Rubin says. “That little bit of practice imposing order is surprisingly energizing and freeing,” she says. “They’re not big tasks on their own. But when they build up, they can be overwhelming.” If you can do something in one minute now, do it, she says. When Rubin cleans her desk, she says, “I come back to the morning and only then realize how irritating it was to delve through all the detritus.” The impact can be dramatic, Rubin says. “Somebody once told me, ‘Now I’ve cleaned out my fridge, I can finally switch careers.’”

Make a gratitude list by the water cooler

Those “gratitude” and “happiness” lists that sometimes do the rounds on Facebook might be annoying to some people, but psychologists say they do work. Employees who regularly recounted three positive events at work over a six-week period and shared them with colleagues made people happier than those who merely listed work tasks, according to a study of Japanese workers and published in the peer-reviewed “Journal of Happiness Studies.” The study — by Chancellor, Lyubomirsky and Kristin Layous (also from the University of California, Riverside) — also found that those who recorded their positive activities engaged in less social interaction and left work earlier. “Be grateful for what you have,” Lyubomirsky says. But that’s not enough. Exercise your gratitude like a muscle by making lists and sharing them. “You have to put an effort into that,” she adds.

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