Tips for work hap­pi­ness

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Job Market - — Marco Buscaglia, Ca­reers

You work. You have a life. So what’s all this bal­ance you keep hear­ing about? “I think ‘work/life’ is just a phrase some­one in HR came up with to make em­ploy­ees feel like they have to con­tin­u­ally have work on their mind,” says Norm Geller, a New York-based sales con­sul­tant. “I think the real in­tent is to make sure em­ploy­ees know that they have to get their work done first; then they can get on with their lives.”

Geller, 45, ad­mits he takes a cyn­i­cal view of the var­i­ous at­tempts com­pa­nies make to “cre­ate hap­pi­ness,” he says.

“I’m the per­son re­spon­si­ble for my hap­pi­ness,” Geller says. “I ap­pre­ci­ate some of the things of­fered to help cre­ate a dif­fer­ent type of at­mos­phere at work, like more flex­i­bil­ity with my hours, but if there’s work to be done, that flex-time turns into 12-hour days.”

Con­trol your­self

As HR de­part­ments of both small and large com­pa­nies con­tinue to tweak their em­ployee ben­e­fits to at­tract and re­tain em­ploy­ees, Geller’s point re­mains: who ul­ti­mately con­trols your hap­pi­ness? More im­por­tantly, what are some things you can do to achieve hap­pi­ness dur­ing the day-to-day rou­tines at work, es­pe­cially if the com­pany’s “bring-your-dog-to-work” pol­icy isn’t ex­actly fill­ing your heart with joy?

We checked with Tim Bono, au­thor of “When Likes Aren’t Enough: A Crash Course in the Sci­ence of Hap­pi­ness” (Grand Cen­tral Life & Style, $25), and the as­sis­tant dean in psy­cho­log­i­cal and brain sciences at Washington Univer­sity in St. Louis, who of­fered a se­ries of tips to help peo­ple achieve hap­pi­ness, even with­out the ben­e­fit of Taco Tues­day at the of­fice:

• Go out­side, move around: Bono says that re­search con­firms a few min­utes walk­ing around in na­ture can boost both mood and en­ergy lev­els. “Ex­er­cise is key to our psy­cho­log­i­cal health be­cause it re­leases the brain’s feel-good chem­i­cals,” he says.

• Get more bang for your buck: Buy ex­pe­ri­ences in­stead of things and spend your money on others. “The en­joy­ment one gets from an ex­pe­ri­ence like a va­ca­tion or con­cert will far out­weigh and out­last the hap­pi­ness from ac­quir­ing another ma­te­rial pos­ses­sion,” says Bono.

• Make time for others: In­stead of fo­cus­ing so much on “me-time,” Bono sug­gests us­ing some of the ex­tra min­utes in your day to help others. “Do­ing a good deed em­pow­ers us to tackle the next pro­ject, help­ing us feel more in con­trol of our lives and less pressed for time,” Bono says. “This trans­lates to higher lev­els of hap­pi­ness and sat­is­fac­tion.”

• De­lay the pos­i­tive, dis­patch the neg­a­tive: An­tic­i­pa­tion it­self is plea­sur­able and look­ing for­ward to an en­joy­able ex­pe­ri­ence can make it all that much sweeter, ac­cord­ing to Bono. “Wait a cou­ple of days be­fore see­ing a new movie that just came out, plan your big va­ca­tion for later in the sum­mer and try to take time to sa­vor each bite of dessert,” Bono says. “On the flip side, get neg­a­tive tasks out of the way as quickly as pos­si­ble. An­tic­i­pa­tion will only make them seem worse.”

• En­joy the ride: Peo­ple who fo­cus more on process than out­come tend to re­main mo­ti­vated in the face of set­backs. They’re bet­ter at stick­ing with big chal­lenges and pre­fer them over the easy route. Fo­cus­ing only on the end out­come can lead to pre­ma­ture burnout if things don’t go well, ac­cord­ing to Bono.

• Em­brace fail­ure: Peo­ple who over­come ad­ver­sity do bet­ter in life be­cause they learn to cope with chal­lenges. “Fail­ure is a great teacher, help­ing us re­al­ize what doesn’t work so we can make changes for the bet­ter,” Bono says.

• Sweet dreams: Get a full night’s sleep on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. “Our brains are do­ing a lot of im­por­tant work while we sleep, in­clud­ing strength­en­ing neu­ral cir­cuits that both con­sol­i­date mem­o­ries from the pre­vi­ous day and that help us reg­u­late our moods when we are awake,” says Bono. “Sleep de­pri­va­tion can lead to cog­ni­tive im­pair­ment sim­i­lar to that of in­tox­i­ca­tion and of­ten is the pre­lude to an ill-tem­pered day.”

• Strengthen your willpower: Ex­er­cis­ing willpower mus­cles in small, ev­ery­day be­hav­iors strength­ens your abil­ity to stay fo­cused at work. “Re­sist­ing the temp­ta­tion to check our phone for new text mes­sages or emails when we’re walk­ing some­where, or re­sist­ing the temp­ta­tion to get the candy bar when we’re in the check­out line at the gro­cery store, al­lows our willpower mus­cles to be­come stronger and in turn, re­sis­tant to temp­ta­tions that could side­track us in other as­pects of our lives,” Bono says.

• In­tro­duce va­ri­ety: Be­ing able to change things up ev­ery once in a while by tak­ing on new projects or even by do­ing the same task but with mu­sic in the back­ground or by in­ter­act­ing with dif­fer­ent peo­ple, can be one way to in­tro­duce va­ri­ety and im­prove over­all morale.

• Stop com­par­ing your­self to others: Redi­rect­ing your at­ten­tion to your own in­ter­nal stan­dards for suc­cess can go a long way for our psy­cho­log­i­cal health, pro­duc­tiv­ity and mo­ti­va­tion. “So­cial com­par­i­son is one of the big­gest bar­ri­ers to our over­all hap­pi­ness and mo­ti­va­tion,” says Bono, who also rec­om­mends spend­ing less time on so­cial me­dia, which can ex­ag­ger­ate how much bet­ter off others are com­pared with how we might feel about our­selves at the mo­ment.

• Reach out, con­nect: Noth­ing is more im­por­tant for our psy­cho­log­i­cal health than high­qual­ity friend­ships. Find an ac­tiv­ity that al­lows you to get to­gether with friends on a reg­u­lar, on­go­ing ba­sis. Peo­ple with high-qual­ity re­la­tion­ships are not only hap­pier, they’re also health­ier,” Bono says. Bono also rec­om­mends us­ing your phone as it was orig­i­nally in­tended: to con­nect with others.

Sure, the “bring-your-dog-towork” pol­icy fills your heart with joy. But what are some other things you can do to achieve hap­pi­ness dur­ing dayto-day rou­tines?

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