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When I hear the idea of seeking greater happiness at work being derided as being soft, fluffy stuff irrelevant to the business world it makes me mad and sad. Because those statements come from a position of ignorance and or denial.

As thinking feeling creatures, we do our best when operating in a psychologically safe environment, when we are involved in meaningful work and have the security of enjoying good physical health and strong positive relationships at home and at work.

This is what wellbeing is all about. Enjoying health and happiness.

Every decision, every problem to be solved, every thought process requires access to the feeling part of our brain to enable us to think better.

Feeling happy at work is essential to our mental wellbeing and I challenge anyone to deny that we currently experiencing mental health crisis at a time where 8 Australians are taking their own life every day and around three million Australians are living with some form of mental illness.

With mental health costs spiralling to beyond $10.9 billion a year that’s a heck of a price to be paying for poor mental health and unhappiness. PwC estimates the ROI in investing in mental wellbeing is an average of $2.30 for every dollar spent.

Happiness at work means different things to different people – it’s a feeling that all is well, you feel in control and you’re enjoying being with, interacting with and working alongside others. It provides a buffer zone against the unforeseen, those unexpected curveballs that regularly come our way. Being in a more positive state of mind makes it easier to cope with those challenges, we’re more optimistic about finding a solution to the current adversity and more willing to adapt to changing circumstances.

Boosting happiness at work isn’t just about bringing in happiness cupcakes to work for morning tea, it’s about tapping into our core values and belief systems and recognising which physiological and psychological elements sustain greater happiness.

While it’s not possible to choose our circumstances or change our predetermined genetic makeup, the science has shown how we can nudge, stumble upon and create greater happiness that leads to greater fulfilment and joy.

Here are three simple ways to boost your happiness at work and elevate your mental wellbeing.

1. Nurture your relationships

Hard wired to connect, we flourish in the company of those we like and consider like us. Nurturing stronger relationships at work begins with acknowledging your fellow human beings. We’re all so busy and caught up in our own universe of self-importance it’s easy to miss that we just walked past our colleague without stopping for two seconds to engage with eye-contact, a cheery smile and say “hello.”

Show your support for your colleagues by calling out the good, seeking to be inclusive and being kind – stepping in to help out when you can see they’re struggling. Shouting a work colleague for a coffee, taking time out to check-in with how others are faring demonstrates your commitment to caring for others leading to reciprocal generosity and trust.

2. Grant yourself permission for self-care

You can’t be truly compassionate to others until you’re able to show yourself the same respect. Permission for self-care is the essential resilience enabler. It’s time to stop kidding yourself that you can get by on 5 hours sleep each night (unless you want to die at an earlier age) that eating take-away 3 nights a week is acceptable as a balanced diet and that wearing your Fitbit counts towards your exercise goals.

Permission for your self-care is hereby granted – for life because this isn’t something you can do on a part-time basis.

If you work very hard and high stress is a constant companion, it’s time to get out and enjoy yourself. Being away from the work environment and doing something you enjoy with others is a great way to decompress and reset.

One example of guys doing it for themselves is the Rammy Men (from Ramsbottom in the UK) a group of men who get together each week to play football. It was started up after one of the men lost a family member to suicide and thought it important to get other men out from in front of the telly to do something so themselves.

3. Give back

Boosting your own happiness will get the biggest surge from giving back to others, and not necessarily just at work.

While it’s said money can’t buy happiness what we can freely give is our time, attention, encouragement and support.

Helping out, simply because we can and want to will elevate your mood and make the recipient feel darn good as well. Kerching! There’s another zoosh of Dopamine being released into your system. That’s why volunteering and RAOK are a win-win for everyone. It boosts your immune system, lowers blood pressure helps you to stay healthy, reduces stress and increases your longevity. Bonus!

Giving back starts a chain reaction. Your good deed creating a ripple effect extending far beyond your initial act. So, choose to be a giver and start to help others enjoy the benefits of your generosity.

Being socially engaged leads to enduring well-being, greater happiness, better health and overall life satisfaction. From the business perspective happy, healthy employees are more likely to be more productive, perform at a higher level and stay in the job for longer.

Mentally healthy workplaces are great places to work and just thinking about that makes me happy.

What keeps you mentally fit?

Dr Jenny Brockis

Dr Jenny Brockis is a medical practitioner and internationally board-certified lifestyle medicine physician, workplace health and wellbeing consultant, keynote speaker and best-selling author. You can now pre-order her new book ‘The Natural Advantage’ due for publication in October 2024.

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