Editor’s note: Updated June 2018 for clarity and additional resources.
We spend much of our lives at work. And if that environment isn’t a good one, chances are we’re pretty miserable. Difficult coworkers, demanding clients and office politics combine for a pretty toxic mix.
Even if you love your job, work can feel overwhelming at times. I want to address this issue head-on. If we’re going to put so much time into something, it should be fun!
When we’re happier at work, we become happier in every area of life.
If you’re struggling with some aspect of your job or simply seeking a fresh perspective on work, then check out this video from my Dear Gabby series with Glamour!
Press play for my three tips on how to be happier at work. Or you can keep reading for a breakdown!
Tip #1: Focus on the good stuff
It’s very easy to show up at work every day and say, “I hate this. I can’t stand my boss. I hate sitting next to this person. My cubicle sucks.” There’s a million ways we can get completely whacked out with the stories of why we don’t like our job.
Instead, lean toward the things that elevate you. Practice seeing those difficult people in a different light. The more you focus on the things that are fun for you, and the more you focus on the good that is around you, the more fun you become!
When you’re more fun to be around, people want to do more with you. You’ll get those exciting assignments. Those difficult clients and coworkers will start to actually change. They’ll see you differently and they’ll act differently around you. When you’re having a good time, the people around you have a good time, and that will help you get ahead very quickly, smoothly and with joy.
Tip #2: Let yourself off the hook when you have a bad day
You’re going to screw up. There are going to be days when the shit hits the fan. There are going to be days when things get difficult. There are going to be days when things get mixed up or you have a miscommunication, or your boss drives you crazy. It’s just going to happen.
It’s going to be what it’s going to be, and the first step is to forgive yourself. Practice the F word and forgive yourself! Let yourself off the hook. As soon as you let yourself off the hook and forgive yourself, you get an opportunity to start again. You can hit refresh. If you’re freaking out and just need to calm down first, try alternate nostril breathing to ground yourself fast.
The moment that you start again, you show up with your best energy and your best vibes, and people are ready to work with you again. If you carry that resentment toward yourself, the people around you will pick it up and they’ll be resenting you too. The moment you forgive yourself, you give others permission to forgive you.
Tip #3: Say nice things to yourself
This is crucial. This doesn’t just go for the office. This goes for every area of your life. Say nice things to yourself. You’re the only one listening.
All the thoughts that you have throughout the day are probably 90% negative. I can safely say that because I am human and I have that experience too. All day long: “Why’d you do that? Why’d you pick up that phone? Why did you listen to that story? Why did you talk to that boss?” Putting yourself down, making yourself feel bad: this inner dialogue can be so scary and chaotic.
I challenge you to take a moment to gently witness what it is you’re saying to yourself and be real about it. And then instantly change the story. Say nice things to yourself. Pretend you are your best friend. What would you say? “I handled myself well on that call.” “Great job meeting that deadline. It was a tight one and you worked it out.” “I’m a thoughtful coworker who helps when needed.”
You have an opportunity to completely change your inner dialogue. The beautiful thing that happens when you change that inner dialogue is that you start to feel better, and when you start to feel better, you just start to perform better. In that experience of feeling good and performing well, you will create massive success.
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