Around this time of year there’s one word on everyone’s mind: gratitude. Thanksgiving time brings the ideas of thankfulness and gratitude into focus. No matter how demanding your job is, your biggest hindrance to enjoying life may be an attitude of ingratitude. If you allow yourself to be unhappy, everything you do will be that much harder. So why not try to make yourself happier? Often, all it takes is a few positive decisions.

1. Empower Yourself

Instead of expecting the worst from life, Mr. or Ms. Grumpy, expect the best! On purpose, shift your language to seek something potentially positive. Your worldview colors your experience. Something one person sees as a disaster might seem a minor setback to another. So what if you didn’t get that new promotion you were shooting for? Rather than dwell on it, look at it as a door opened, a chance to land something even better. Then work your way toward that. Don’t just give up.

Some say you’re the average of the five people you surround yourself with, so surround yourself with upbeat people with positive attitudes, especially at work. Take charge of your own destiny. There’s no avoiding crybabies, but you don’t have to let them drag you down.

2. Spend Time with Family and Friends

Isn’t it odd how some of us work so hard to provide for our families that we rarely see them? Before it’s too late, start scheduling more time to spend with those you love. They’ll help keep you sane and appreciative. After all, what’s the point of working so hard if you can’t enjoy each other’s company? Family and friends help you recharge so you can be more productive when you do work.

Keep family time sacred. Focus on your family members exclusively during this time. Make sure you can be home as much as possible when they are.

3. Volunteer

Did you know that your brain rewards you with a shot of endorphins when you do something nice for someone? In the 1980s, a study by New York City’s Institute for the Advancement of Health revealed that this is what happens when you get a «helper’s high.» This energetic response makes you feel better both physically and mentally, boosting self-esteem as well as energy. So doing something nice for someone else does something nice for you, too!

4. When It All Goes Wrong, Laugh

We’ve all had days go wrong from the get-go, with things falling apart, «time-saving» gizmos wasting our time, coffee spilling all over that perfectly prepared final report…well, you can either blow your top or just give up and laugh about it. A client once told me about an engineer supervising the e of a tall, expensive communications tower…only to have it collapse as soon it was up. The engineer started yelling curses, while his coworker just started laughing.

The engineer thought he was an idiot, but the coworker told him, «Sometimes all you can do is laugh!» The engineer saw his point and started laughing too…and then they started the job over. The engineer’s only other option was to cuss and be mad, so since he couldn’t change what had happened, he gave in and laughed.

5. Surround Yourself with Happiness

Although it may sound clichéd to you, it really is true that you can choose how to feel. It may not be easy, but consider this: no one’s going to do it for you. No matter how hard they try, no HR initiative is guaranteed to cheer you up and make you feel better about your job. But happiness is crucial to success. Perhaps workplace happiness is the key to job engagement — not vice-versa, as many people think. So find ways to be happy, and perhaps everything else will fall into place much more easily.

About the Author:

Laura Stack White 01 HeadshotLaura Stack, MBA, Certified Speaking Professional, is America’s Premier Expert in Productivity™. For over 20 years, her talks have helped professionals, leaders, and teams execute more efficiently. Her company, The Productivity Pro, Inc., provides productivity workshops around the globe to help attendees achieve Maximum Results in Minimum Time®. Her newest book, Execution IS the Strategy, hits bookstores in spring 2014. Laura has been featured by the CBS Early Show, CNN, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times. Connect at http://www.theproductivitypro.com/; http://www.facebook.com/productivitypro; or @laurastack.

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