How to Be Happy at Work Today

Science elucidates certain happiness factors.

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Happiness research was in its heyday a couple of years ago, but I think it's about time for a resurgence. Fifteen months into this recession, anxiety and pessimism are the norm. Money's tight for the unemployed and retired, and layoff fears really have a hold on those who have jobs.

So what's the trick to feeling sunny?  Yes Magazine recently covered " 10 Things Science Says Will Make You Happy," and I think several ought to be incorporated into work.

  • One key is to "avoid comparisons," and at work, the opportunity for comparison is endless--you can compare your achievements, pay and recognition to that of coworkers; you can compare your seemingly sluggish career path with your boss's fierce trajectory; you can compare your bland apparel with that of the sartorially brilliant intern. Stop. "Instead of comparing ourselves to others, focusing on our own personal achievement leads to greater satisfaction," psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky tells Yes.
  • Take more initiative. I think this is probably the most important thing you can do to improve your work experience. An excerpt:

How happy you are at work depends in part on how much initiative you take. Researcher Amy Wrzesniewski says that when we express creativity, help others, suggest improvements, or do additional tasks on the job, we make our work more rewarding and feel more in control.

  • Force yourself to smile to coworkers, even if you're feeling gloomy.

Need more? Here are nine things you can do immediately to counteract a miserable mood.

My colleague Kimberly Palmer also recently covered some of the best ways to be happy in a recession.

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