happiness

Loving Life at the Office.

I read a startling statistic recently that 70% of Americans hate their jobs. And considering how many people complain about Mondays, I'm willing to bet that the numbers are just as bad in many other countries. Perhaps this is why so many people dream of freelancing or becoming creative entrepreneurs. We idealize the idea of working from home, meeting our girlfriends for long lunches, and only sitting down at our desk when we want to. But speaking from experience, being self-employed is a real grind and comes with a lot of risk. You're not even guaranteed a pay cheque, after all. And with all that pressure and a never ending to-do list, it's possible for it to be just as miserable as any office job. Plus there's usually a long road between getting started and actually quitting your day job.

So whether a freedom-based business is your ideal future or not, it's time to stop postponing our happiness for evenings and weekends or worse - retirement! We spend at least 40 hours per week at our desks and to truly love ourselves and design our lives, that includes the hours between 9 and 5 as well. To get you started, here are some tips for loving life at the office.

Build a Killer Morning Routine

If you wake up dreading work and you're loathe to even get out of bed, you're setting the tone for the entire day. Instead, take a tip from Tony Robbins and leap out of bed as soon as your alarm goes off. We're the most receptive and impressionable first thing in the morning, so make the most of that time by building a daily practice that nourishes you on every level. I've written a whole post on how to do this in a way that works for you and I'm sure that you'll feel better at work when you've started your day in a way that fills you up.

Remember Why You're There

I think this step is two fold: remind yourself what your job affords you outside of office hours, as well as what you're creating while you're there.

Does your job allow you the freedom to pursue your passions in the evenings? Does it give you money to fill your fridge with delicious foods? Are you saving for your dream holiday?

And what about the work that you're doing. Does it contribute to a larger mission? Is it making the world a better place? Is it allowing you to build new skills or create new experiences? Does it contribute to who you want to be as a person, such as someone who is reliable and hardworking?

If you're struggling to answer these questions, force yourself to sit down and think of at least 10 reasons why you're grateful for your job. When you start to have "woe is me" thoughts about being at the office, use simple mantras or phrases that remind you of what your job is allowing you to do. You might even want to find some visible reminders, like photos or quotes, to put on your desk. By cultivating an attitude of gratitude for your work, you're recalibrate how you think about your job.

Be an Active Participant

How can you carve out a role that is better suited to your skills and interests? How could the organisation you work for improve the work that they do? How could they make the working environment better? If there's something you think could be done differently to benefit everyone, give that feedback in a polite and constructive way. By helping to shape your workplace and your job, you'll feel more invested in it and like a more valuable member of the team.

Create Decadent Rituals

My friend Caz knows how to infuse the mundane and everyday with luxury and decadence - in fact she writes an entire website about it. So it's no surprise that only a couple of weeks into her new job she'd started a ritual of salted caramel hot chocolate runs with her coworkers on Friday afternoons. Some other friends started a cheese club at their office. Once a month someone would buy a bottle of wine and everyone else would bring in a different cheese. They'd knock off an hour early and have a mini wine and cheese party. How fun is that?!

Work doesn't have to be all spreadsheets and pull-your-hair-out boring meetings. You could take turns bringing in dessert on Mondays or indulge in extra fancy coffees on Fridays. Little treats give everyone something to look forward to and make the office a bit more fun.

Get to Know Your Co-Workers

Make a point of talking to at least one of your co-workers about something that's not work-related every day, even the ones you don't know very well. Ask them about their families, their dreams, and their favourite places to go on holiday. Ask them what they do on the weekend and what their biggest passions are. If you feel like the conversation is lagging, probe them to go deeper by asking "why?" and showing genuine curiosity about their lives. People love to talk about themselves, so you'll become everybody's favourite around the office and you'll also feel connected to the people you spend 40+ hours a week with.

Make Lunch a Mini Holiday

You have one luscious hour in the middle of the day that's all yours, so why not make the most of it? For a few weeks I was reading Roald Dahl books on my lunch breaks. I could get through one every few days and the daily dose of childhood nostalgia really made me smile. Choose to make your lunch break really fun and special. Scribble about your daydreams in a journal. Pack your favourite foods to eat. Go to the park and paint your nails. Work on your side hustle or passion project. Plan a date with a friend who works nearby. Create a routine you love or mix it up and add in new things all of the time so it's always exciting.

Kit Out Your Desk

I wrote a post about kitting out your home desk for creative explosions, but how can you add a bit of fun and whimsy to your desk at the office? Your work environment will dictate how much you can get away with but even a few framed photos and an inspirational quote will make your workspace more appealing. Pick up a few coloured pens. Decorate your binders with washi tape. Balance a funny action figure on top of your computer monitor. Stash your favourite snacks in a drawer. Make your desk a more fun place to be and infuse it with a little bit of your personality.

Sometimes, learning to love life at the office is just about adjusting your attitude and choosing different thoughts. So when you hear Negative Nancy piping up inside your head again to moan about how much you hate being there, tell her to be quiet and choose a more grateful, loving thought instead. This is your life and you get to decide how it looks and feels - even at work.

Do you have any tips for not just bearing life at the office, but celebrating it? I'd love to hear!

Love, pixie sticks, & glow-in-the-dark markers,

Get Your Brag On!

Do you want definitive proof that we keep each other playing small? Here it is: we treat the word “brag” like one of the dirty four-letter words.

We’re quick to sing the praises of someone else but when they  talk about that amazing thing they did or bought or had happen to them we think it’s distasteful. That it denigrates their achievement. That they should pipe down and stay in line.

But isn’t it the most natural thing in the world when you’ve dragged your big dream down from the sky, had an amazing stroke of luck, or created something wonderful that you want to shout it from the rooftop?

We’re social creatures and sharing our experiences makes them feel more real. Talking about our happiness and accomplishments affirms them and solidifies them in reality.

So why are we so quick to dismiss ‘bragging’ as a bad thing?

Perhaps we’re not really as happy to celebrate the good fortune of others as we’d like to think. Because it brings up those nagging fears that we aren’t good enough and we start comparing ourselves to what they have and seeing only what we don’t.

So we’ve created a culture where we downplay what’s going well for us or stay silent altogether.

But this is dangerous. Because happiness is power. Because bragging shows others what is possible. Because it helps us feel good.

We need to start wielding that power.

I love that Mama Gena’s sister goddesses make a practice out of bragging. They say “I brag…” and tell each other in no uncertain terms about their incredible achievements and every fabulous thing happening in their lives. And they know that doing so doesn’t threaten the fabulosity of anyone else. It encourages them to unearth their own desires and revel in their own delicious brand of wonderful.

And you should brag about the little things, not just the milestone pay raises, new houses, or holidays. Celebrate taking the time to buy flowers for yourself or get a manicure when you’re really busy. Boast about that delicious meal you made or that new dress that looks so good on you. All of life’s little pleasures are worth bragging about.

So how can we reclaim bragging?

Make a practice out of it. Call your girlfriend every week and list your brags to each other. Get into the habit of sharing your big achievements and the simple pleasures you’ve indulged in. You’ll be cultivating gratitude and encouraging your friend to own her happiness. Win, win, win.

Stop downplaying the good stuff. When you get a compliment, accept it graciously. If someone compliments your outfit, don’t point out some perceived flaw. If you get a thumbs up for scoring great media coverage for your company, don’t pass it off as luck. Just say “Thank you” or even more goddessly, “I know.”

Encourage it. When someone brags to you, express your genuine happiness for them and tell them how happy you are that they told you their good news.

Talk about it. When something wonderful happens, don’t hide it! Wield the power of your happiness. Bringing more happiness into the world is a good thing. So don't allow fear of other people's reactions keep you playing small.

So what are your brags today?

I’ll start: I brag that I just got an awesome new haircut. That I am heading off on a whirlwind trip to Paris next week. That this week I’ve been treating my body like a temple with loads of plant-rich meals. And I have one more BIG brag to share with you soon...but for now I'm going to be a big tease, because I need to keep it under my hat for a little while longer.

Come on babes, let's get our brags on!

xoxo,

Photograph from Death to the Stock Photo.

7 Ways to Bust Out of a Slump.

It’s so easy to slip into a funk. They can come out of nowhere or creep up slowly when we’re making little, almost imperceptible choices that take us out of alignment with who we are and where we want to be going. Pretty soon life seems blasé instead of magical and even the smallest obstacle can feel like a major setback. I was in this headspace not too long ago. I was feeling uninspired by my work, uncertain about my dreams, and too many days felt tinged with sadness. I think it’s important to feel our feelings, to accept or even embrace them, but I also know that unless we take action, we’re likely to remain stuck.

I’m not sure that you can jolt yourself out of the doldrums like some people would have us believe, but the things we do every day build up for a major impact. For me, it was like waking up one day to find the clouds had cleared. I felt refreshed, joyful, and completely inspired. In case you’re facing your own period of ennui, here are the slump-busting techniques I swear by.

Make gratitude a daily practice. I won a Five-Minute Journal from the lovely Jessica and since then I’ve been spending a few minutes each morning listing things I’m grateful for, deciding how I can make the day awesome, and choosing an affirmation that reflects those intentions. Then I finish the day by reflecting on everything that made it amazing and one way I’d like to have made it even better. You don’t need a special book to start a gratitude practice – any old scrap of paper will do. The magic is in starting and finishing each day giving thanks for your life – especially when you’ve got the blues and it might be harder to find that silver lining.

Exercise daily. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my funk faded away one week into a 30-day yoga challenge. I tend to avoid exercise like the plague but I’ve been feeling so good since committing to a daily yoga practice, so perhaps there is something to that science stuff after all. My mind feels clearer, I have more energy, and my body feels amazing. Plus, exercise boosts your mood by increasing the feel-good chemicals in your brain.

Get it off your chest. I’m willing to bet that a lot our slumps are caused because we’re holding something in. How we really feel. What we really want. Who we really are. If you’re upset with something someone’s done to you, tell them. If there’s a situation you want to change, talk to someone who can help you make it happen. Keeping things in breeds resentment and a niggling feeling of anxiety. Getting it off your chest can be scary, but I promise it won’t be as bad as you think and you’ll feel better about it in the end.

Accomplish Something. When I’ve got the blues, I feel useless. My inner critic convinces me that I’m a terrible friend, bad at my job, and that I’ll never accomplish my dreams. Pretty soon it feels like I have a never ending to-do list, but that I can’t do anything. Ticking one small thing off your to-do list will create a sense of accomplishment and help you get over that downward spiral of negative thoughts.

 

Set yourself a challenge. Similarly, committing to my 30 Day Yoga Challenge gave me a simple goal to work on each day. I feel proud after every practice. I pat myself on the back when I go to a class even though I was tired and really didn’t feel like it. Setting yourself a simple challenge shifts your focus to something positive and gives you something fun to work towards when you’re feeling uninspired.

Prioritise fun. It’s easy tosap the joy out of your life when everything’s work-work-work all of the time. But life is for living and if you’re not careful, you’ll just be letting it slip away. Schedule fun into your diary. Choose one thing each day to do just for the bliss of it – it can be as simple as dancing wildly to your favourite song or eating a candy bar you loved as a little kid. But make time for the bigger just-for-fun things too. Save up for that circus class. Dye your hair a crazy colour. Book a trip to somewhere you’ve always wanted to go but never had a reason to visit.

Give selflessly. In the middle of my funk came a #lovetober prompt that really lit me up: Perform a random act of kindness. I wrote a simple note and used glittery washi tape to stick it to a park bench with a £5 note. I felt so good, even though what I had done was quite small. It filled me with glee thinking about someone stumbling on this little surprise and made me want to do more good deeds (just like Cher!) When I’m going through a rough patch, I get really wrapped up in my own head and doing something for someone else takes me out of that space and makes me feel really good. It doesn’t have to cost any more money: give up your seat on the bus, help a friend move, assist someone who needs help crossing the street, donate clothes to a charity shop. Challenge yourself to perform a random act of kindness everyday for maximum impact.

So, what about you: how have you been feeling lately? Do you have any tried-and-tested techniques for getting out of a funk?

 

Photographs via K. Patine, Flickr, and Disney.