Keys to Workplace Happiness

On March 20th, 2016, thousands of people around the world took the pledge to support International Day of Happiness. But, with stress-related absences on the rise in workplaces due to poor communication, unrealistic expectations, workplace conflict, and perceived fear of job loss, is it possible or realistic to expect employees to feel happy? Positive psychology approaches would say yes! Although we may have good reasons not to be happy at work, we should aim to broaden our understanding of happiness so it is much more than just being in a good mood at any given moment (Huffington Post, n.d.). Rather, it is our ability to feel good and function effectively that expands this focus by connecting with others, having a sense of purpose in what we do, and accomplishing the things that matter to us (Huffington Post, n.d.). 


So what are some practical ways of increasing well-being and making others happier around us? Based on the book Ten Keys to Happier Living by psychology expert Vanessa King, here are the ten keys to consider in all facets of your life, including work:


"GREAT DREAM" sounds promising and all, but how can we start to apply these keys to real-life situations? Here are some ways in which we can do so to increase our happiness at work and in life:

1. Giving - Caring about others is fundamental to our happiness. By giving, we are creating stronger connections between our colleagues and helps to build a happier work culture. Try reaching out to someone who is having a difficult time at work. Offer your support with completing a job task, and let them know that you care.

2. Relating - People with strong relationships are happier, healthier, and live longer. Connecting with family and friends increase our feelings of self worth, provide love, meaning, and support. Our broader social networks bring us a sense of belonging as well. Try making three extra connections today. Chat with the barista while you are getting coffee on your way to work, learn the name of someone new, or wave goodbye to a co-worker on your commute home. 

3.  Exercising - Our body-mind connection is real! Being active makes us happier in addition to improving our physical health. Try getting off a bus stop early, take the stairs to your office floor, or go for a walk at lunchtime. Notice which healthy actions heighten your mood and do more of them often.

4. Awareness - Stop and take notice of what is around you. Learning to be mindful helps us get in tune with our feelings and prevents us from dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. Try giving yourself some head space by taking 5 minutes out of your day to just breathe and be in the moment. Try some of our favourite mindfulness apps.

5. Trying out - Learning new things exposes us to new ideas and helps us stay engaged and curious. It can give us a sense of accomplishment in what we do, and boosts our self-confidence and resilience. Try doing something for the first time today. Read a different newspaper, take a new route to work, use a new word, or cook a new meal. 

6. Direction - It is important for us to feel good about what the future holds. We all need goals that motivate us, however these goals need to be challenging, yet achievable. Take the first step by thinking of a goal you are aiming towards and do one thing to get started. Check out our tips on setting smart goals. 

7. Resilience - We all have times of stress, loss, failure, or trauma. It is how we respond to these events that has a large impact on our happiness and well-being. Although we may not be in control of what happens to us, we can choose how to respond to what happens. Resilience is not easy, however like many other life skills, it can be learned. Try asking for help today. Confide in a friend, talk to an expert, or reach out to a colleague. 

8. Emotions - Joy, gratitude, inspiration, and pride are all positive emotions that don't just feel good when we experience them. They help us perform better, increase our resilience, and improve our physical health. As mentioned previously, we need to be realistic about our ups and downs, however focusing on the positive aspects of any situation always helps. Try to smile and say something positive every time you walk into a boardroom. Notice the reaction you get!

9. Acceptance - We often compare a negative view of ourselves with an unrealistic view of other people, but let's face it - no-one is perfect! Learning to accept ourselves, imperfections and all, and being kinder to ourselves when things go awry increases our life enjoyment, resilience, and well-being. Ask a trusted colleague to tell you what they think your real strengths are and try to make more use of these.

10. Meaning - Individuals who have meaning and purpose in their lives feel happier, more in control, and get more out of the things they do. How we find meaning and purpose can be tough to tangibly identify. For some, it may come from doing a job that makes a difference, religion or spiritual beliefs, or spending time with our family. Although answers may vary across individuals, they all involve being connected to something that is bigger than ourselves. Want to feel part of something bigger? Try spending time with your children, visiting an inspiring location, gazing at the stars, or joining a club of interest.

As you can see, there are many practical ways of using the Ten Keys to Happier Living. We want to know your great ideas of how to integrate them in your everyday lives and in the workplace. Let us know in the comments!



Let’s put the things that matter first. (n.d.). Retrieved March 26, 2016, from
The Dark Side to Workplace Happiness. (n.d.). Retrieved March 26, 2016, from
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