Studies show a clear correlation between happiness and productivity at work. A recent study from the University of Warwick of randomly selected individuals revealed that happy workers demonstrate 12% greater productivity. In his book, “The Happiness Advantage”, author Shawn Achor explains that positivity fuels productivity, creativity and motivation leading him to suggest that happiness fuels success rather than the other way around.
He provides several exercises that according to him, will literally change the neuropathways of our brains and make us happier. Following are five exercises that we can apply to our workdays to begin feeling happier and more productive within thirty days.
1. Gratitude exercises: Simply write down three things for which you are grateful that occurred over the last 24 hours, no matter how small. This could be done in the morning, over lunch or before you go to bed.
2. The doubler: Review one positive experience from the previous 24 hours and take two minutes to write every detail you recall. Perhaps your input was valued during a meeting or a co-worker assisted you with a project. Your positive recollection deepens the imprint.
3. The Fun fifteen: Performing cardio every day for fifteen minutes staves off depression according to twenty-five independent studies. Run around the block, up and down the stairs, or meet your colleagues at the gym after work for an intense workout. Physical activity is proven to boost happiness and reduce depression.
4. Meditation: If you don’t have a quiet place at work, find a bench outside or sit in your car. Two minutes of peace and concentrated breathing can produce tranquility and happiness.
5. Conscious act of kindness: Making others feel good, makes us feel good. At the start of your work day, a simple pat on the back, text, email or phone call praising someone else is both easy and beneficial.
Gallup’s most recent State of the American Workplace Report reveals that 67% of U.S. workers were not engaged at work. In my prior post, “Workplace Incivility is At An All Time High,” research revealed that not only are people unhappy at work, they are downright uncivil. If we want to reverse course and increase happiness at work and thereby engagement, perhaps we should focus more on the sweet than the sour.