How To Be Truly, Blissfully Happy At Work

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This article was last updated on April 16, 2022

As much as we LOVE our own particular daily grinds, having to go to work every single day, week in and week out, can occasionally feel a bit challenging. Yes, even your dream job, on a rough day, can feel like a struggle. 

Around this time of year (no more Summer Fridays, no holidays in sight until Thanksgiving, and a lot less sunshine), we start to feel a little bummed. Meetings feel longer, mornings feel harder, and putting out all of the mini fires that pop up during the day start to take their toll. And since we — much like most of you — spend the majority of our time at the office, we figure we need to make the most of it. After all, we don’t want seasonal fatigue to force us into a crabby, cranky place, for the bulk of every day. 

So, we’re making a change. We’re brightening up, shaking off any tugs of ennui, and learning how to be happier — particularly at work. To make it happen, we looked to some of our favorite, most inspiring professionals, from editors and directors to tech superstars and A&R types, and picked their brains. Ahead, the secrets to happiness at work. Whether you mostly love your job or are actively looking for a new one, these tips and tricks should make your daily grind just a bit more fun.


Get In A Deskside Workout

“I have a treadmill desk and I walk up to eight miles a day, while conference calling, editing, and doing production for film shoots. Before the treadmill, I got grumpy about missing all my runs for budget negotiations and ad pitches. I think all that walking makes my brain work better.” 
—Corey Creasey, film director and co-founder of Terri Timely 

Okay, so maybe we can’t all stand on a treadmill all day while we work, but we’re all about resistance bands, and even balance-ball chairs, to help you get a little adrenaline flowing, mid-workday. It’s a mental break, and the physical activity really does change your mood! But, we have to advise against planking at the office….


Invest In The Best Work App, Ever

“I love the application Evernote. I use it cross-platform. I use it on my iPad to take notes in meetings; on my phone to take pictures to document; and on my computer to organize my work-life.”
—Kate Harris, mobile product manager atThe New York Times Digital 

Whatever it is you need to do to get organized, do it. But this app is pretty awesome, and we hear there’s a new notebook (moleskin, of course) and app hitting shelves in October, which will let you scribble your notes at will, and then digitize them for you.


Get A Desk Plant

“Plants can help you relax since they connect you with nature. And they’re about as distracting as, well, a houseplant — meaning, they’re not very distracting at all.”
—Julie Melillo, certified life coach 

This is such an easy addition to your space, and as an added bonus, having a permanent fixture like a plant on your desk forces you to de-clutter a bit (less empty space for littering with useless stuff and more reason to take pride in your workspace). Our recommendation: a cactus. It’s cool and feels like greenery, but it’s also essentially impossible to kill.


Day-Ahead Prep

“Take 15 minutes before you leave work to clear your desk and make a prep list for the next day. Walking in to a fresh, clean desk with a neatly typed or hand written list of how to attack the day brings you to a happy place instead of the chaotic craze.” 
—Julia Wright, professional organizer,Genius Organizing 

We are huge fans of list-making, here at R29, and we can vouch for the fact that any day when we’re welcomed by a neat, comprehensive list of the day ahead, we feel much more prepared to face the day—even if it descends into mad chaos only moments later.


Get GOOD Coffee

“COFFEE! And I’m talking about good stuff (Stumptown — not the in-house Flavia machine that produces something that tastes like feet). I’m always willing to do a coffee run if energy in the office is running low — and I can always tell when people are dragging, or in an off mood. So, I’ll just shoot up and take orders and spring for coffee. And it’s infectious; everyone takes turns now.”
—Brekke Fletcher, managing editor, WSJ Magazine

Even more than the idea of delicious coffee, we love the idea of watching out for your coworkers. Our drug of choice at R29 HQ is Pinkberry, and every time someone makes a run, we see the mood instantly change all around the office. Kinda amazing.



“Even when you’re in a bad mood, smile! No one wants to deal with drama on top of everything else they already have to deal with at work.”
—Christopher Gonzalez, mobile manager, Gilt Groupe 

It’s that do unto others thing, and it’s true, right? Plus, forcing yourself to smile on a bad day really can change your mood. Try it. Right now. See?


Make A Monday Playlist

“Have a great Pandora or Spotify playlist ready to go on Monday morning — it makes coming back from the weekend easier!”
—Sophie Smith, A&R admin, Concord Records 

You know we love a good playlist around here, so we went ahead and made an awesome Monday mix to get you started. Just click on through to Spotify and hit play!


Upgrade Your Tech

“Having decent computers for people is my secret. It’s a small investment…. Slow computers add more to stress than you can imagine. And people are more productive as a result of a better machine.”
—Jeremy Schoenherr, iOS developer at GroupMe

Even if you’re not in charge, this can still work for you. Ask for a new computer, or just a software upgrade, if your machine is an issue. Most bosses will say yes, and since you work on that thing all day long, it can be a huge game changer.


Buy A Beautiful Planner

“I always use an old-fashioned physical day planner. Since I work in digital and feel like I live online, it’s important to ground myself with writing lists and touching paper. And I have puppy stickers on my monitor, always, at every job.”
—Martina Fugazzotto, social media manager

We love the old standbys from Smythson and Hermès, but if you’re in the market for a less pricey option, may we recommend this bright, cheery option from Poketo, which rings in at just $21?


Stop Sitting So Much! 

“What makes me happy at work is having a standing desk (backaches have disappeared). More importantly, when I’m listening to music I can spontaneously break into dance. Seriously. It’s a little embarrassing, but a little dance stretching always lifts the spirits!”
—Aya Brackett, photographer

Um, yes. Pardon us while we go take a mid-day dance break, immediately. Even if you can’t work at a standing station all day, get up from your desk at least once an hour. The break from your screen is nice, and getting your blood flowing certainly doesn’t suck, either.

Interviews by Anne Ichikawa

Illustrated by Christina De La Cruz

Click HERE to read more from Refinery29.

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