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We spend about 35% of our waking hours in the workplace, assuming eight hours of sleep each night and a 40-hour work week (and I know most of us are definitely working more than 40 hours!). That’s a significant chunk of our life, so it’s no wonder that unhappiness and stress in the workplace affects our overall well being and levels of happiness.

But we don’t have to resign ourselves to the fact that work is supposed to be “work”— there are ways to use positive psychology principles, backed by science, to help improve the workplace.

Leverage Strengths

Those who use their strengths on a daily basis report feeling more engaged and energized at work. Creating “mastery moments”, where you deliberately create projects that capitalize on your strengths or your employees’ strengths, will lead to increased levels of happiness and lower levels of depression. Plus, the projects will probably be more successful because you’re leveraging people’s strengths!

Not sure what your strengths are or curious if you have hidden strengths you haven’t recognized yet? Take a free quiz to uncover your character strengths at www.viacharacter.org.

Create Meaning

Sometimes it’s easy to forget how our work positively impacts others, and work can feel like a pointless exercise of just doing what you’re told. When people can directly see how their efforts have a positive impact on the lives of others, work becomes more rewarding and people feel more positively about their work. And remember that seeing is believing— being told about the benefits is not as powerful as directly seeing the impact or results. You can get creative with this by bringing in a beneficiary of the work or showing a brief clip of the positive impact of the work.

Encourage a Grateful Mindset

When people “count their blessings”, there’s increased activity in the part of the brain associated with happiness. So doing things as simple as starting staff meetings with everyone sharing something they’re grateful for can help promote wellbeing in the work place. Not in charge of meeting agendas? Start your work day by listing a few things you’re grateful for to get the same benefits.

Connect with your Colleagues

Coworkers is often listed as one of the reasons people enjoy their work. But did you know that positive relationships in the workplace can also increase your productivity and help alleviate stress at work? So make the effort to get to know your colleagues and connect with them. Grab a coffee, chat a little at the end of the work day, or suggest a post-work happy hour.

If you’re an executive or manager, be aware that moods can be contagious. That can work against you if you have a very negative employee because it can create low morale. It can also work in your favor if you can leverage the optimistic, more positive employees you have. You can strategically place those individuals in certain teams to help improve morale and increase positivity.

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Learn more about building positivity into your life by continuing to visit this blog. Feel like you need more support in building a happier work life? Contact Dr. Crystal I. Lee for a free 20 minute consultation to see how she can help you foster positivity in your workplace.