A Little Happier

Posted on August 29, 2019

Andy Dwyer

This edition of Morning Buzz is brought to you by Lynn Kelly-Lehner. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

One of my favorite authors is Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, Happier at Home, Better than Before, and more fascinating books about happiness and habit change. She also hosts a podcast with her sister Elizabeth, appropriately called Happier. (I’ve had the pleasure of geeking out at two of her book tours and meeting her.)

Rubin doesn’t claim to be unhappy when she embarks on a twelve-month journey to make her life happier in The Happiness Project. But, she smartly argues, she could still be happier.

This got me thinking. We spend A LOT of time at work. (Don’t worry, I am not going to put in some depressing statistic about how much time we spend at work.) While many of us love our jobs and are passionate about our profession, what if we could be…a little happier?

Here are some ideas I have implemented at work over the years to make the most out of my time in the office and to make my life happier. And who better than our heroes from Parks and Recreation to help us out?

Change Your Perspective

Leslie Knope

I get it. Being yelled at by an angry resident is zero fun. But let’s take a step back and reframe the situation. The resident, who lives in the community that you serve, is yelling because they passionately care about an issue in the community. Hey, guess what? Remember, you also passionately care about your community! You are both trying to make the community a better place, albeit in slightly different manners.

Work/Life Balance

wafflesOur jobs can be very demanding and draining. Without some breathing room, we lose creativity and can lose the ability to be competent or even cheerful.  (Um, guilty as charged.) We may not be able to take criticism without the possibility of imploding, and it can become difficult to control the level of our daily stress.

I encourage you to attempt this magical thing called work/life balance. Is it easy? Definitely not. But it is important to take care of yourself.

Take a break. Go on vacation. Go on a walk. Get a hobby outside of work, and preferably at least one hobby that is unrelated to work. If you practice self-care and balance, you are much more likely to be happier both at work and outside of work.


Spartan Lynn“I take care of my body above all else. Diet, exercise, supplements, positive thinking. Scientists believe that the first human being who will live 150 years has already been born. I believe I am that human.” Chris Traeger, aka my personal hero

We’ve all heard that sitting all day and working on a computer can lead to health concerns and weight gain. Moving around throughout the day has a number of beneficial effects – even if you already exercise and eat healthily.

Find some sort of exercise plan that works for you. Go for a walk in the morning. Or perhaps a run in the evening. Maybe sign up for a 5k with your co-worker and friend.  Or be really extreme and jump over fires for fun (like me). Get those endorphins flowing, and the stress will melt away.


Leslie and AnnResearch shows that having a friend at work can turn a moderately engaged worker into a highly engaged worker. The Harvard Business Review found that employees that have friends at work perceive their job as more fun, enjoyable, worthwhile and satisfying. It creates a support system, comradery, and a sense of loyalty.  Find someone that you can talk to and share your struggles in the workplace.

I once had a boss tell me “don’t make friends at work.” That is the single worst piece of advice I have ever received. I am incredibly grateful for the friends I have made at work. They have really gotten me through some difficult times.

Celebrate Success

Treat Yo'selfNerd alert: I actually keep track of what I do every day in a small planner at my desk.  In the same notebook, I also keep track of my goals and my progress towards them. Recording all of this gives me a huge sense of accomplishment. Not to mention, it has come in handy more times than I would have thought! (Ahem, annual evaluation.)

But in a bigger picture sort of way – Did you just finish a big project? Go out to dinner with your significant other, purchase a new gadget, enjoy a cookie, or just give yourself a pat on the back. Find the time to reward yourself!

Find Meaning

According to Wharton researcher Adam Grant, “employees who know how their work has made a meaningful, positive impact on others are not just happier than those who don’t, they are vastly more productive too.”

Remember: your work is important. You do important things. You make a difference in your community.


Thanking someone is a magical superpower. We can never display gratitude too often. Think back: who are the people that are the most responsible for your success? Thank the people that have helped you succeed. You have not achieved success alone.

When we feel underappreciated, we are less productive, have a harder time working on teams, are less motivated, feel more discouraged, complain more, have lower life satisfaction, and have lower job satisfaction.

Gratitude is a gift – share it.

Comparison is the Thief of Joy

Stop comparing yourself to others. Everyone is on their own journey.  We have all experienced feelings of inadequacy and doubt. Overcome the imposter syndrome – you are doing a great job!

Ron SwansonPrepare

Ron Swanson knows what is going on. Prepare, prepare, prepare. Follow up with people. Be reliable. Become the go-to person. Don’t just check the box. Do your job well!

What are your tips for staying happier at work? What action items can you take today to work towards being happier at work?


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