A higher level of life satisfaction or a happy disposition will, according to some recent research, make you better at your job, more likely to get a promotion, and less likely to quit. One study from the University of Warwick, UK, found that happiness led to a 12 percent jump in productivity and caused a threefold increase in creativity.
Of course, being happy at work is easier said than done. So if you’re one of the majority of people who aren’t exactly tap-dancing to the office, here are some ways to boost your levels of on-the-job happiness from Alex Palmer, author of Happiness Hacks: 100% Scientific! Curiously Effective!, which is out now.
Whatever meaning you are drawing from your job, one thing is for certain: doing it for money won’t bring you happiness. Studies have found no correlation between higher salaries and higher levels of happiness. A survey of thousands of twins found that income accounted for less than two percent of the difference in their respective levels of wellbeing. Researchers have found that once a person earns an average of $100,000 per year, they experience a “happiness plateau”. Those making millions may be able to buy nice, shiny things, but they don’t enjoy a higher level of happiness commensurate with the higher salary.
Stop putting so much importance on making more moolah at work.
Viewing your activities as part of a long-term goal improves your mood on a chemical level. Subjects in a study were asked about their personal and family goals, rated their mood, and assessed the relevance of their current activity to these goals during the day, every three hours over a week. At each check-in, subjects also provided saliva samples so their levels of cortisol – the “stress hormone” – could be measured. Activities that subjects identified as furthering their goals correlated with more positive mood ratings and lower levels of cortisol, suggesting goal-oriented behaviour is important to mood and stress management.
Make a daily goal chart and track each important step forwards.
Long live the coffee break! Researchers at the University of Toronto, Canada, say that frequent breaks improve creativity because our brains have a limited amount of energy, requiring them to be frequently recharged. But just taking a break is not the solution – it’s what you do with it that counts. To recover from work, you need to use your break to do activities that “stop the demands associated with work”. That means engaging in what the researchers defined as “respite activities” – involving either low effort (napping, relaxing or sitting quietly) or a preferred choice (reading a book or spending time with friends).
Use your respite to recover fully and get your energy back. ■