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Make It a Great Day at Work

Discover how changing your thoughts can make you happier at work.

You may be spending up to half of your waking hours during the week on the job. Even if you’re not full-time, that’s way too much time to be miserable or even discontent. The good news: You have the power to change it—and it doesn’t have to mean changing jobs.

When it comes to being happier about your work, your thoughts are a powerful tool. “No one can make you feel a certain way,” says Emily Golden, P.C.C., executive and career coach and author of the upcoming book, The New Golden Rule. “The feelings that you have are coming from the thoughts that you’re thinking.” For example, if your boss gives you negative feedback, and you think that you’re being unfairly targeted or that you’re constantly under a microscope, you’re going to feel resentful, maybe even angry. However, if instead, you think that the feedback can help you to improve, you’ll feel more positive. It may still be uncomfortable to receive negative feedback, but feeling appreciation instead of resentment will change your outlook.

Here are ways to change your perspective so you can determine if a job change is really necessary.

Set yourself up for success. Flipping the switch on how you think about work will be much easier if you’re well rested and properly fueled before you begin. Add in a morning workout—even if it’s just a few yoga stretches or a walk around the block—and you’ll be primed for a more positive day.

Talk to yourself—kindly. To counteract the often overly critical voice inside your head, repeat a positive mantra or set intention for your day. Starting with the right mindset is even more vital to happiness than your morning coffee. Here are a few to try or come up with one that’s meaningful to you.

  • I have the power to create change.
  • I am in charge of how I feel and today I am choosing happiness.
  • I don’t sweat the small stuff.
  • I can choose positive thoughts.
  • I deserve good things.

Pay attention to your thoughts. The next time something happens at work that leaves you feeling bitter, stop and notice the thoughts that you’re having. Ask yourself if there’s a different way of looking at the situation that may make you feel better.

Take stock of your strengths. Too often, people focus on their weaknesses or problems that they need to fix. When you root yourself in your strengths, it’s easier to shake off negative interactions and not take them personally. To keep your strengths front of mind, write a list of them and review it daily. If you’re having trouble coming up with strengths, ask some trusted colleagues, friends and family members what qualities you bring to your job.

Keep a compliments file. Anytime you receive praise from your boss or co-workers or get a glowing performance review, save it! Make a note about how good you feel and why. No matter how big or small, archive these positive moments because it’s too easy to forget about them. Then, when you’re having a bad day, read through your file to pump yourself back up.

Recall the good. At the end of each workday, think about three positives that happened and share them with your family. This will help you forget about the not-so-great parts of your day and set you up for an even better day tomorrow.

Now, there are bad jobs, or you might be in a job that’s not the right fit for you. In those situations, start looking for a new job. But in the meantime, the work that you do on changing your thoughts is likely to provide you with even greater happiness in your next job. “I want you running to a new job, not running from an old one,” says Golden. Otherwise you may find yourself unhappy there, too.

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