This post is by Ryan Burch and was originally published on Career Contessa.
Do you dread going to work? Does it feel like you’re having the “case of the Mondays…” every day?
Although I’ve written a lot about quitting my job and the importance of taking risks, there was a long period of time that I was resentful and unhappy—but unable to make a move.
If you are unhappy in your career and are dealing with certain factors prohibiting change at this very moment, how about committing to improving your happiness in other areas of your life?
We often talk about happiness as something that we aspire to have, not necessarily something we can shape and create. But the truth is—happiness is formulaic! Studies show that happiness can be generated through the efforts and energies we put into strengthening our intrinsic values. This means exercising your “signature strengths:” spending time doing things that you’re good at and genuinely love.
There are many elements to the happiness equation, but self-exploration and improvement are key elements to this formula. Start by thinking about your skillset and activities or environments in which you thrive. What are your core values? What can you do to build upon them through action?
Here are five ways you can SPARK your inner happiness today:
- Be creative. Try a new dance class, attend a “paint and wine night,” start blogging! Create a DIY project for yourself that will get your creative juices flowing. (Hellloooo Pinterest!).
- Embrace your daydreams. I love the quote, “Most people don’t aim too high and miss, they aim too low and hit.” It’s important to dream big, without burdening yourself with unrealistic expectations. Allow your mind to wander, and make sure to journal about your dreams and goals. Pay particular attention to the activities that bring you effortless joy. This will help identify your purpose and passions in life.
- Mix it up. You know that new restaurant you keep talking about trying? That hike you’ve heard so much about? Just do it. Mix up your routine and sneak something new into your week—breaking up the routine of an otherwise monotonous week can raise your spirits during the workday. Check out Thrillist or Eventbrite to find cool events and new hot spots in your city.
- Reframe situations in a positive light. Do you hate yourlong commute? Get smarter by buying books on tape, use the time to call friends back at home or play pump up jams that only you would enjoy. Make an effort to create conversations around the pleasures in your life (like the new book you’re reading, or that new show you’re obsessed with) rather than gossiping about your coworkers or obsessing about the worst parts of your job. Optimism is the best way to work through ruts without falling into a long-term slump.
- Give back. Giving can be so much more rewarding than receiving! Pick a charity or find a friend or stranger who could benefit from an act of kindness. This is especially important around the holidays, when people really need some extra cheer.
Happiness is within us, but it’s our job to let it shine. Commit to improving your happiness in some way, every day. This can be through any small action, but should involve something that makes you smile, laugh and feel balanced. Invest in your values and your relationships and you will be able to make decisions in life that allow for long-term happiness—including satisfaction and success in your career.