How to be happy at work (under 10 minutes)

What’s it like for your team when you have a bad day? How about a series of bad days? Does it have an impact on how people work and behave around you? Does it have an impact on your decision making process as well?

Most probably yes. A good vibe is key to good work.

Point is, when stress doesn’t stop mounting, it’s not that easy to just pull a straight face and act as things were fine – you need a stronger remedy.

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Well, there is a hack to it, one that has to do with how you can control your own happiness. Putting numbers on it, a study published in the Review of General Psychology back in 2005 shows that your level of happiness is genetic for about 50%, 10% has to do with your environment – your income and personal life for example – and the remaining 40% depends on you, on what you do.

This means that you have full control on 40% of your own happiness, and that is not a minor amount! The great news is that there are some ways of boosting that 40% that are designed to be fast and effective. By the way, this is all based on scientific research (better to point it out).

This means we know how to be happy at work, and today i’ll give you two quick hacks that 

  • will take you a total of 10 minutes
  • will massively impact your mood and 
  • will make it easier for you to create and keep that good vibe that is key to team morale.

For more, take a look at a book called 59 Seconds by Richard Wiseman – there’s plenty more in there.


This first hack taps into how thankful you feel about things.

In practice: take out a piece of paper and a pen and write down in three bullet points three things that you are thankful for.

They can be experiences, other people, the sun shining in the sky, you name it.

One brief sentence per bullet point is enough, even something as basic as “thank you mom for cooking dinner last week” or “thank you weather for being nice on my way to work”. You don’t need more than this.

Important point here, you can’t just think about what you are thankful for.

You need to have pen and paper and write because writing and thinking are different processes, and this will not work unless you are writing.

Once you have written down these three things you are thankful for, you are done. You can throw the piece of paper away if you want.

It’s a very simple ad quick act, but it taps into gratitude, and being genuinely grateful for something has strong, long-lasting effects on how happy you feel. 

So take five minutes every morning to grab a scrap piece of paper and a pen to write down these three things you are thankful for, and see for yourself how much of a difference this makes.

Visualize (but be careful!)

The second happiness hack I want to share with you has to do with how you see yourself and this one has a massive twist to it.

You are more likely to be happy if you achieve your goals, if you gain respect and trust as a leader, and if your hard work pays off, obviously.

So take 5 minutes once or twice a week and just imagine the best possible professional future for yourself.

Visualize yourself working hard and achieving your goals because of your hard work, being the person you want to be and the leader your team desires, visualize in detail inspiring people around you and succeeding only thanks to your own strength and willpower.

Basically, daydream with a purpose, daydream to be happy.

Do it a few times and you will notice a huge increase in your mood and in how happy you feel – and this will again reflect on your team management style, on the overall vibe of your unit and on the drive of your team members.

The twist

I did say there was a twist to it and here it is.

Visualizing how you achieve your goal is great for happiness, but it will not do anything for you apart from making you happier.

It will not help you get any closer to your goal, nor be any more motivated or driven to work hard. Visualizing is actually part of a larger tool can actually motivate you to reach your goals, but that’s a topic for another time.

Now, I am perfectly that this may come as a surprise.

It came as a surprise to me because it was at odds with what I had heard from other sources, advice from life coaches and so on.

I get it how this may go against what you may have practiced and trusted already, and against beliefs that you may have built over the years. So I wouldn’t be surprised if your first reaction is to not trust me on this – so what I encourage you to do is to see for yourself.

Do your research on this topic and come to your conclusions. My reference study is called “The motivating function of thinking about the future: expectations versus fantasies” by Gabriele Oettingen. 

How to be happy at work

Wrapping it up, you know how to be happy at work because:

  • you control 40% of how happy you are;
  • gratitude and visualization are two ways of boosting that 40%;
  • to tap into gratitude you can take 5 minutes a day and write down with pen and paper three things you are thankful for;
  • to tap into visualization you can take 5 minutes a week and imagine how your hard work, professionalism and effort have gotten you to be exactly where you you wanted to be – just remember this does nothing to actually help you get there.

If you use these two hacks for one week, investing a maximum of 10 minutes a day, you will notice a massive increase in how happy you feel and in how much you can let your positive flow motivate your team and make them happier to have you as their leader, two effects that are likely to last even for months and that are likely to impact team behaviours in uncertainty as well.

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