I read an article recently that talked about a popular class at Yale called The Science of Well-Being, designed by professor Laurie Santos.

She pulled research findings on the psychological science of happiness and created a class with practical step-by-step exercises designed to boost happiness.

This article caught my eye because recently I made one of my personal goals to find mindful joy in the workplace for at least one hour a week.  This goal might sound silly to some of you, but I find as a busy executive with all the multitude of hats I wear in my personal and professional life, it’s very hard to find time to simply live in the moment and experience true joy at work. I often find myself thinking about the issues and problems that need to be solved as a leader, not the good things going on around me.   I rarely find myself feeling “joy” at work or in my personal life. For example, if I’m watching a movie with my kids I’m thinking about work. If I’m in a meeting, I’m thinking about the next meeting or the project I can’t get to. Don’t get me wrong, I laugh often, usually at myself or the small things I find humorous that people say or do, but I can’t say these moments really qualify as mindful JOY.

So, this article caught my eye. As leaders our attitude affects our employees. What would happen if I expressed more joy at work?

Santos summarizes that studies show happiness can be learned.  As busy leaders who are often stressed, here are 4 tips that might help us tap into deeper happiness in our life and as we go about our busy day at work:

1) Focus on your strengths– When we do a DISC behavioral assessment for our clients, we always tell people this, “Don’t spend your time and energy trying to fix weaknesses, get awareness of when your weaknesses are getting in your way, but fundamentally, be conscious of putting yourself in your zone of strength.” Focusing your attention on your strengths improves your positive energy at work. Are you focusing on strengths or weaknesses?

2) Invest in experiences over material goods. I love this suggestion because I find that when I spend money on experiences that create memories, the value is far greater than the immediate gratification of a material item. Ask yourself, how are you creating experiences for your colleagues that are positive memories? I love to re-live and think about past experiences that had meaning in my life. I love experiences that are new or exciting because they make me feel alive and cut through the grayness of the day to day. These experiences don’t need to be expensive, but the memories can have a high value, long-lasting positive impact on my mental state.  What kind of memories are you creating at work?

3) Learn to savor the small things– Try to be aware of the simple events in life that stimulate your nervous system. For example, I was recently visiting my brother and he has an Audi RS6 that we took out for a drive. He opened it up and we hit 60 mph in less than 4 seconds. As we picked up quick speed, my back pressed against the passenger seat and I felt the power of the vehicle pin me down.  It was a sensory experience that made me smile. Look around daily for the small things that you can savor and that bring a smile to your face.  As leaders, are you creating opportunities at work to impact co-workers with a small experience that brings value to their day?

4) Express gratitude and spread kindness– Research shows that our brains are hard wired to receive a hit of dopamine when we cause others to smile. One study showed spending a small amount of money on someone else, like buying someone a coffee, had a longer dopamine spike then buying a coffee for oneself. Pleasure from social acts of kindness can increase the happiness you feel in a day. How do you spread kindness in your workplace?

As busy leaders in a stressful high paced world, it’s important to take a moment to slow down and spend time rejuvenating your spirit though experiences at work and in your personal life that increase your happiness. Stay tuned to learn more about stress management tips in an upcoming blog. Schedule a FREE coaching session to learn more now.