Nine Ways to Cultivate Joy in the Workplace

Published by Annie Barrett: 
February 22, 2024

Joy is vital to our wellbeing, to our cognitive functioning, to our work performance, and to our sense of professional fulfillment.

Joy is an antidote to burnout.

“Joy can be so powerful at work — it’s a force multiplier that allows teams and companies to set ambitious goals and meet them without burning out.”

- Arianna Huffington

Here are nine ways you can cultivate joy in the workplace.

1. Focus on your strengths

One sure way to cultivate more joy in your work is to build on your strengths. Your strengths are your natural energizers and can serve as catalysts to cultivating joy. When you build your strengths into your work, you feel better. 

When have you felt energized at work? 

What were you doing?

How could you do this more often?

2. Find Flow

The experience of flow is related to joy. Flow state theory suggests that when you are in a state of flow, you experience deep immersion, focus, and intrinsic motivation. 

When you work on something that is engaging — but not so difficult as to be frustrating — your brain relaxes in an unusual way.  In the flow state, your mind is fully engaged in the task at hand in a way that frees up other parts of your brain to make connections. Although you are working, the experience of flow is inherently restorative and pleasurable. Dopamine is released, helping you to feel relaxed, optimistic, and energized.

When have you experienced flow?

How could you structure your work to enable times of flow?

3. Seek out awe

Emotion scientists define awe as a sense of wonder and reverence. It is a positive state elicited in the presence of vastness. Awe does good things for our bodies and minds. The experience of awe lowers stress and inflammation. Awe makes you more compassionate, curious, and creative. It improves your sense of wellbeing and leads you to feel more connected with the greater world and with your inner world. We most often experience awe in other people or in nature, but we can also experience awe in encounters with music, art, architecture, spiritual experiences or even our own accomplishments. 

When have you experienced awe? 

Have you ever experienced awe in your workplace? When? How? 

4. Focus on your purpose beyond your paycheck 

Ikigai is the Japanese word meaning your “reason for being.” Ikigai is the intersection of

  • What you love
  • What the world needs
  • What you’re good at
  • What you can be paid for

When you are living your ikigai, the work you do in the world is personally meaningful, satisfying, and makes an impact on the world. 


What is the impact you want to make with your work?

What greater good are you contributing to?

5. Grow yourself.

When you prioritize your personal and professional growth, you grow your capacity for joy because you are tapping into your creative genius and positively challenging yourself.

Is there something you are interested in learning? 

Is there a  professional development opportunity that you’d like to pursue?

6. Strengthen your social connections.

Joy is “affiliative” which means that we most often experience joy in the presence of others. When we strengthen our bonds with others, we can set ourselves up for experiencing more joy.

Are there people in your work life and personal life that you’d like to spend more time with?

How would you go about strengthening your social connections?

7. Celebrate others’ success and good fortune

Empathetic joy, or mudhita in Buddhism, is rejoicing in the good fortune, good health and success of others. Because emotions are contagious, there is more joy to go around if we can celebrate with others and feel joy in their joy.

When was the last time you rejoiced in someone else’s good fortune?

How can you bring more of this celebratory joy into your workplace?

8. Show appreciation

Celebrate successes, both big and small. When you appreciate others, this ignites  joy, engagement, and creativity at work. 

Is there someone you’d like to appreciate at work or in your personal life?

9. Help others

There is proven research linking altruism to wellbeing and joy.

When do you feel joy in helping others

In what ways at work do you experience joy and satisfaction in helping others?

Where to Start

What ideas from this list  can you apply to your own life to experience more joy?

What’s one action step you can take this week?