The Science of Happiness in the Workplace

Everyone wants to be happy. There are countless ideas about what happiness is and how we can get more of it. Experts are now talking about the idea of “the science of happiness,” which suggests that we can identify exactly what it takes to be happy and then simply do just that.

As “the science of happiness” becomes increasingly popular, best practices grounded in these findings are becoming more readily available. This is great news for the workplace, since happy employees are often more collaborative, productive, and create an overall more positive working environment.Here are six helpful tips for leveraging science and incorporating more positive psychology to spread the cheer throughout your workplace.

Look for the good

Rather than focus on things that frustrate you, focus on what’s going right. There will always be people, projects or situations that could be improved, but it never helps to get caught up in the negatives when you can use the positives to inspire you and propel you forward.

Be aware of what you’re thinking

Heidi Halvorson’s book “Focus” explores the difference between “promotion” and “prevention” thinking. In other words, do you think towards the future or do you fear accomplishing your goals? “Focus” reminds us that both ways of thinking are okay, but the more mindful you are when reaching toward our goals, the happier you will be.

PAUSE when you’re feeling negative

Negativity is normal. Take a look at your negativity head-on and give it space. Be willing to accept that you’ll feel negative at some points in life, but remain flexible and open. If you’re frustrated with a work project, a co-worker, or something else happening in life, remain aware of exactly what’s gnawing at you so that you can figure out a gameplan for moving forward.

Breathe deep

Do some yoga, muscle relaxation, or whatever puts you into a peaceful, present place. Many workplaces (including Google, Apple, and OpenSesame) are incorporating practices such as mindfulness, yoga or relaxation time into their employees’ weekly schedule and find that these efforts are directly related to creativity, productivity and happiness levels. Just get up from your computer, take a step back, and stretch!

Don’t forget to smile

Smiling is such a little thing that we rarely consciously think about. However, smiling actually helps your nervous system shift into a much more upbeat frame of mind. Even if you don’t feeling like smiling, try it anyway: you may find it to actually snap you into a happy mood. Try staying grumping with a genuine smile on your face.

Bonus: Smiling is contagious, so it has a positive effect on your friends and coworkers as much as it can infect you (in a happy way).

Review PERMA

Marty Seligman (the author of “Flourish”) came up with the helpful acronym for happiness, PERMA, which stands for: Positive emotions, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment. You can incorporate PERMA into just about any context and into both work and non-work environments.

Whatever techniques you use to achieve happiness in your workplace, there’s no doubt that a little positive psychology can keep you and your coworkers upbeat, productive, and feeling good about your goals. Whether you’re a manager, employee, or freelancer, just a little reflection and mindfulness can do wonders for your happiness.