It’s everywhere we look… Monday Morning Blues (or Blahs). Songs. Social Media. News. Magazines. Advertising. Everywhere.
Why is that?
Could it be that there’s a level of satisfaction in a culture of dissatisfaction? What if, instead of “Working for the Weekend,” Loverboy had recorded “Working for Contentment”?
Now. Can you change the entire culture? Maybe. Maybe not. But you can definitely influence your own approach to life. Here are three things you can do to help yourself appreciate your work day as much as your personal time.
- Smile. Studies have proven that the physical act of smiling actually releases neuropeptides, which allow the neurons in your brain to communicate. This opens your body up to receiving what Joy, from the movie Inside Out, by Pixar, so freely distributes: dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin. According to the study by Tara L. Kraft and Sarah D. Pressman, “Grin and Bear it: The Influence of Manipulated Facial Expression on the Stress Response,” even a forced smile can have benefits; smiling is contagious. Bottom line, smiling on the outside throws a party in your brain!
- Embrace Variety. As humans, we like to have some level of variety in our lives. Granted, some people thrive on the unknown, and some people prefer to have the exact same routine every morning. That’s not what I’m talking about. This type of variety could be as simple as saying, “You know, I’m going to use a blue pen today instead of a black one.” The fact is, you actually can choose whether or not you use the same pen every day. Sometimes making even infinitesimal changes to our routines open us up to seeing new possibilities around us.
- Be Grateful. Robert Emmons, a leading researcher on the benefits of gratitude, conducted a 2016 study, Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life, which concluded that “a focus on blessings may have emotional and interpersonal benefits.” During a recent conversation with a colleague who was convinced he was being unfairly targeted (and after determining that there was neither intentional nor unintentional discrimination occurring), we discussed the fact that we often find what we look for. If I expect someone to slight me, I can guarantee that I’m going to hear that in something they say. If we expect Monday to be a terrible slog, it will be. If, on the other hand, we consciously look for things for which we can be grateful, we will end up not only happier, but also more productive, and effective.
The next time your alarm clock goes off, instead of groaning, hitting the snooze button and wishing you could sleep in, do something different. Stretch, smile (even if it is forced), and find something to be grateful for. Choose to embrace Monday (or whatever day it is) and you will find yourself in a much better state of mind.