By Alexander Kjerulf
The words we use to talk about work can be revealing. In Denmark, we say: arbejdsglaede. Which means literally happiness (glaede) at work (arbejde). This word exists in other Nordic cultures -- but nowhere else on the planet. (The Japanese instead have the word Karoshi which means "Death from overwork.")
Why is this? Simple: To Danes, a job isn't just a way to get paid -- we fully expect to enjoy ourselves at work. I speak abut this topic all over the world, and outside of Scandinavia the attitude is often the exact opposite: "Well, of course I hate my job. That's why I get paid to do it, right?"
We need to change that attitude and be happier at work for three very specific reasons.
We spend more of our waking hours at work than on anything else. We spend more time at work than with our friends, families and children combined. Unless you are happy at work, you'll spend a large part of your life being miserable.
Hating your job can make you sick. Worst case, it can kill you. Studies show that people who hate their jobs run a much higher risk of contracting serious diseases like cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
When you like what you do, you do a better job and will ultimately be more successful at it. Many people chase success, thinking success will make them happy, when very often it doesn't. Instead, make sure to be happy at work and that will bring success. Also, happy companies make more money, because their employees are more creative, productive and motivated.
Interestingly, arbejdsglaede does not come from a high salary, perks, massages and bonuses but from something entirely different. The two things that make us happy at work are results and relationships.
Results: That means making a difference at work, knowing that your job is important, getting appreciation and doing work that you can be proud of. Relationships: That means liking the people you work with, having a good manager and feeling like you belong. In short, we are happy at work when we do great work together with great people.
How can you achieve that? Here are my top 5 tips for creating some happiness at work today.
1. Praise a co-worker.
Recognizing other people's good work is one of the simplest and most effective ways to make them happy. Don't make a big production out of it, just make it a habit to appreciate a job well done whenever and wherever you see it.
2. Say 'Good morning.'
In too many workplaces, people have gotten into the habit of not saying good morning to their co-workers. Make sure to greet each person in your department in a happy, cheerful way. Some tips: Make eye contact, use the person's name and sound happy to see them!
3. Random acts of workplace kindness.
Do something nice and surprising for a co-worker. Bring someone a cop of coffee. Leave some candy on a desk anonymously. Flowers work too and so does a handwritten note saying what you appreciate about that person.
4. Make room for me-time.
Every workday, make sure to take two minutes to yourself. Two minutes where you can decompress, de-stress and ask yourself one very simple (but important) question: "So, how am I feeling today?"
5: Get to know a co-worker.
Go talk to one of your co-workers and learn three new facts about that person. Like their favorite movie, best vacation ever, where they grew up ... anything really.
All of this may sound trivial and believe me, it is. That's why it works. Achieving happiness at work is not rocket science -- anyone can do it and the research shows that simple methods like these work the best.
Alexander Kjerulf is one of the world's leading experts on happiness at work. He is a speaker, consultant and author, presenting and conducting workshops on happiness at work at businesses and conferences all over the world. His clients include companies like Hilton, Microsoft, Lego, Ikea, Shell, HP and IBM. He is the author of three books, including the international bestseller Happy Hour is 9 to 5 -- How to Love Your Job, Love Your Life and Kick Butt at Work.
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