14 habits to trick your brain to feel happy at work.

Time for some happiness hormones

Your brain isn’t built to make you feel happy, it’s made to help you survive! So it’s absolutely normal that you aren’t feeling happy all the time. Luckily you can train your brain using happiness hormones to feel good in new ways. How?

Step 1. Understand how your happy hormones (dopamine, endorphin, oxytocin and serotonin) have a grip on you.

Step 2. Design new habits that trigger these ‘happiness hormones’ and increase your happiness at work.

Happiness hormones facts


Dopamine motivates you to get what you need, even when it takes a lot of effort.

Habits to boost dopamine
  1. Find a small daily win. Every day find some success and celebrate a small victory: tell yourself ‘I did it!’.
  2. Take 10 minutes a day to take a step forward to a new goal. This will help transform a dream into reality.
  3. Spend 10 minutes a day on a dreadful task. This will help you chunk it into manageable parts.
  4. Adjust the bar. Experiment with lowering the bar in areas where you have set yourself impossible goals and raising the bar in places where you’ve set it so low that you feel no reward.


Endorphin motivates you to ignore pain, so you can escape from harm when you’re injured.

Habits to boost endorphin
  1. Take time to laugh. Laughter is a release of fear! Search for triggers that make you laugh and maximize these.
  2. Accept a negative feeling. Don’t suppress it, but feel free to let it go and relieve the tension (even by crying!).
  3. Exercise differently. Try a different variant of your exercise routine. Working out differently will stimulate endorphin-flow, like you went to the gym for the very first time!
  4. Slow movements. Endorphin is released when you stretch! So do daily desk stretches or try something like Tai Chi or Qi Gong.
14 habits to trick your brain to feel happy at work.
14 habits to trick your brain to feel happy at work.


Oxytocin motivates you to trust others, to find safety in companionship.

Habits to boost oxytocin
  1. Connect with people you dislike. Start with small things (making eye-contact, smiling, having a chat about the weather, …), be positive in your expectations, and slowly build a new shared foundation.
  2. Be trustworthy. Honor your commitments and then pause just a second to enjoy being a person who is delivering the promised results.
  3. Do a trust-check. Trust new people, and verify next if they are worthy of your trust. By trusting, and verifying, new trust can grow, and younwill be able to expand your circle of trustworthy people.


Serotonin motivates you to get respect in a group and this protects you in the long run.

Habits to boost serotonin
  1. Express once a day pride in something you have done. Say ‘look what I did’ to someone else. You will expect a positive reaction, and if you don’t get it, you will learn that it doesn’t kill you. 🙂
  2. Enjoy your social position. When you are an employee, notice the advantages of not having to make the difficult decisions. When you are a manager, enjoy the moments of respect and choice. Try to notice your status frustrations, and remind yourself of your advantages.
  3. Notice your influence. Notice when others mirror your good example and please donn’t expect credit for it, just enjoy!

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