For most of us, more than 50% of our waking hours are spent at work; our happiness at work can have a significant impact on our work performance, work engagement, and overall satisfaction in life. Here are a few ideas of how you can try practicing the seven habits of happiness at work:


People who have one or more close friendships are happier. It doesn’t seem to matter if we have a large network of close relationships or not. What seems to make a difference is if and how often we cooperate in activities and share our personal feelings with a friend or relative. Continue »


    1. Build your network of close relationships:
      • Go to lunch with a friend; invite him/her to bring someone you don’t know.


In Google’s internal research on building a better place to work, they decided “The tables should be long, so workers who don’t know each other are forced to chat.”


      • Go to lunch with a colleague and express your appreciation for his/her work.
      • Daily or weekly, send a group email recognizing someone in your organization or team.


An article from Harvard Medical School stated: “gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”

Key Characteristics of the Happiness Habit: Relationships

      • Focus on cultivating a few close relationships, not just your larger network
      • Be vulnerable and open with your closest friends; share your concerns and challenges; listen to theirs.
      • Tend to your closest relationships like a garden; given them ongoing attention to ensure that you do not take them for granted.
      • Cultivate positive emotions in your relationships by doing activities that are mutually fun; ideally, the activities allow you to use your strengths.




People who volunteer or simply care for others on a consistent basis seem to be happier and less depressed. Although “caring” can involve volunteering as part of an organized group or club, it can be as simple as reaching out to a colleague or classmate who looks lonely or is struggling with an issue. Continue »

2. Volunteer or care for others:

    • Organize a charity experience – volunteer at a school, hospital, or senior care facility, plant a tree, or work with a local shelter.
    • Plan an act of kindness for a colleague going through a challenging life change (i.e., death in the family, family illness, new baby).
    • Ask your Human Resources group if your company will match donations to a local charity. Pick your favorite charity and donate.
    • Give $10 to a homeless person or open the door for someone you don’t know.


“Helping others or volunteering …highlights your abilities, resources, and expertise, and gives you a feeling of control over your life.” Lyubomirsky


Exerciseexercise and happiness: running

Regular exercise has been associated with improved mental well-being and a lower incidence of depression. The Cochrane Review (the most influential medical review of its kind in the world) has produced a landmark analysis of 23 studies on exercise and depression. One of the major conclusions was that exercise had a “large clinical impact.” Continue »

3. Engage in a healthy, active lifestyle that promotes physical vitality and good nutrition:

  • Find a friend and take regular walks during lunch for exercise and exposure to sunlight.
  • Join a company sports team like Soccer, Volleyball, or Softball.
  • Join a company sponsored fitness center and coordinate workouts with other team members.


Researchers from the University of Bristol found that people who exercise on work days are happier, suffer less stress and are more productive.


Spiritual Engagement and Meaning

Studies demonstrate a close link between spiritual and religious practice and happiness. Continue »


4. Find meaning and purpose:

  • Write down why you are working at this company. Keep it handy as a reference for when the negative thoughts and feelings start to interfere with your happiness.
  • Research the company vision and values. Write down how they fit and apply to your life.
  • Communicate to your team members how their work is tied to the vision and values of the company.
  • Identify how working at this company will help you reach your dreams. (see The Dream Manager by Matthew Kelley).


“Human beings want meaning and purpose in life. The Meaningful Life consists in belonging to and serving something that you believe is bigger than the self .” Martin Seligman


Positive Mindset: Optimism and Gratitude

winnie the pooh

Of all the areas studied in the relatively young field of positive psychology, gratitude has perhaps received the most attention. Grateful people have been shown to have greater positive emotion, a greater sense of belonging, and lower incidence of depression and stress. Continue »


5. Practice having a positive mindset, which includes practicing mindfulness and cultivating the positive emotions of optimism and gratitude:

  • Before you go home each day write down 3 things that were good about your work day.
  • Send an email to someone on your team around 3 pm everyday listing 3 things that were positive today. Encourage them to do the same.
  • Take short breaks throughout the day to relax, take a short walk, and focus on the good things in the world around you.


“Positivity doesn’t just change the contents of your mind. It widens the span of possibilities that you see.” Barbara Frederickson


If we are deeply involved in trying to reach a goal, or an activity that is challenging but well suited to our skills, we experience a joyful state called “flow.” Continue »


6. Find Flow:

  • Identify the tasks in your job that you truly enjoy and find challenging. Create undisturbed blocks of time to focus on those tasks.
  • Handle the most dreaded tasks first so you can focus on the task at hand rather than dreading what horrible project you eventually have to tackle.
  • Trade with team members. Take on their activities where you easily find flow in exchange for them doing something from your list of activities that they identify with flow.
  • Create methods for making your boring tasks more challenging and interesting.


“The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times… The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.”Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Strengths and Virtues

Studies by experts such as Martin Seligman in the new field of Positive Psychology show that the happiest people are those that have discovered their unique strengths (such as persistence and critical thinking) and virtues (such as humanity) and use those strengths and virtues for a purpose that is greater than their own personal goals. Continue »

7. Identify your unique strengths and use them for a purpose that is greater than yourself.

  • Write down your list of strengths. Keep it handy so you can add to it over time. You can get a free assessment at
  • Throughout the day focus on tasks that leverage your strengths and look for ways to apply your strengths to the other tasks.
  • Volunteer for roles or opportunities to assist other team members on projects that leverage your strengths.


Harzer and Ruch (2012) found that employees who apply their signature strengths to their unique work circumstances experience greater job satisfaction, pleasure, engagement, and meaning.


  1. Building happier teams and employees – For leaders or executives who have embraced the idea of building a happier working environment for their employees.
  2. Increasing productivity and profitability with happiness – For leaders or executives who want to improve productivity and profitability and are interested in how the science behind happiness can help.