7 Traits of Happy and Productive People at Work


Putting in long hours at work doesn’t always mean you’re productive.

You’re exhausted and spread thin, and you’re probably miserable to boot. You’re only going through the motions of working. You may get the job done but your output isn’t exactly your best work.

Citing a decade’s worth of research, Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer — authors of The Progress Principle — pointed out: “People are more productive and creative when they have more positive emotions.”

Employees shouldn’t rely on the benefits and incentives that their employers give. As business owners, you can be proactive about finding happiness.

Happier You, Productive You: What You can do to be Happier NOW

  1. Be an Optimist

People are too busy these days, that’s why they’re always stressed, both in their work and private lives. Positive people not only spread good vibes, but they’re also quick to see failure as a ‘new start’ or a plot twist in their lives, instead of a reason to despair and give up.

Of course, being optimistic doesn’t mean seeing rainbows all the time. It just means that you’re focusing on the positive side of things instead of dwelling on what’s going wrong. A research at the University of North Carolina also showed that optimists see more opportunities compared to negative and neutral thinking people.

  1. Don’t be Superficial

You shouldn’t rely on material things to lift your spirits. You won’t be successful finding happiness that way. Get to know yourself and confront the issues that you feel are preventing you from being happy. Then, strengthen your bonds with the people who matter to you by spending time with them.

  1. Establish Work-Life Balance

You can’t live in your office or keep taking work home. Even if you enjoy what you do, there has to be a time for you to “disconnect” from the demands of your job so you can enjoy being with your family and friends.

When you feel that you’re overworked, just think of what writer Anne Lamott said, “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” So, by all means, go on vacation. Money is important but not at the expense of your well-being.

  1. Secure Your Finances

Stop living from paycheck to paycheck. Come up with a strategy to save money so you can invest in things that matter to you.

Just be careful you don’t turn into a stressed out money miser. Money is important, but it’s not everything. You don’t need to have tons of cash. You just need to manage what you have the best way you can. Living within your means is a good start.

  1. Chill Out

Don’t be a slave to the clock. Learn to go with the flow and go on spur-of-the-moment adventures once in a while. I learned this three years ago, when I was a slave to the deadlines of the articles I’m writing. Even if I decreased my workload, I still felt burned out because all I did was work. Not surprisingly, all this changed when I took a 1-week impromptu vacation.

You don’t have to confine yourself to a strict routine. You can be spontaneous. For instance, you can decide to cancel your not-so-urgent meetings for the rest of the day so you can go home earlier to cook dinner for your family. You can also go for a quick ice cream break with your co-workers in the middle of the day. As long as you don’t neglect your tasks, you can have a little fun at work.

  1. Surround Yourself with Positive People

Jim Rohn said, “You’re the average of 5 people around you.” Being around people who like talking about their problems without doing anything about them will spoil your mood.  Even if you say you can block them out or ignore them, their toxic vibe could still infect you.

Instead, hang out with people who are supportive of your dreams. Seek out those who inspire you to be the best version of yourself.

  1. Pay it Forward

Think outside of your own little world and do something for others. According to research by Christopher A. Morrissey and Jessica L. Collett of University of Notre Dame, when you pay it forward without expecting anything in return — even an ego boost — you’re more likely to feel happy about yourself and minimize your risk for anxiety attacks.

Do volunteer work for an organization that’s helping at-risk kids. Help out at an animal shelter. Donate to your neighborhood’s soup kitchen. Doing these good deeds will give you a sense of fulfillment that’s not related to work.

If charity isn’t your thing, find a couple of small or startup entrepreneurs you believe in. Perhaps it’s a sustainable and eco-friendly yoga mat, or connoisseur coffee beans picked by farmers protected by fair-trade practices. If you believe in what they’re doing, support them. Yes, it’s not 100% charity. But your small contribution will help someone else’s dream of changing the world, while giving back to the community.

Live a Rich and Diverse Life

While it’s important to excel at what you do, your job should not be the end-all and be-all of your existence. It’s just a job, after all. It should not be a substitute for your personal dreams.

Do other things that you genuinely enjoy or try doing the things that you’ve always wanted to do. You can learn to play an instrument. You could train for the one of the world’s largest marathons such as the Boston Marathon or the Tokyo Marathon. You can even get a sideline job. If you’re an accountant who’s always dreamed of being a chef, go and sign up for culinary school!

There’s no such thing as “too late” when it comes to what makes you happy. Remember that while your career may be a big part of your life — it’s not your entire life. You’ll be a happier and more productive person if you enrich yourself with experiences and encounters that will resonate with you long after you have left the office.

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