The Silicon Valley Voice

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Work Daze – Think Small

What would it take to make you perfectly happy at work? A 150 percent raise? A mandatory 2-month vacation with pay? The CEO coming into your cubical and, confessing that he could never run the company as well as you, handing you the keys to his executive office, his executive Tesla, and his golden parachute, all six trillion dollars of it?

Any one of those things would make you happy, but let’s face it, those are big things. Big things don’t happen often. What happens often are small things, like getting the last package of Cheez-Its before the vending machine breaks down or being told that your raise this year will come in the form of a gift certificate to the local Scrapbooking Express.

But what if a small thing could make much happier in your job? Gretchen Rubin, a LinkedIn Influencer, believes this to be the case. In her recent posting, “A Menu of Very Small Changes to Boost Your Happiness at Work,” Rubin sets out to influence us to initiate and embrace small changes.


She even gets specific about it.

For example, Rubin recommends that you “check for eyestrain: put your hand to your forehead like a salute. If you eyes feel relieved, your space is too bright.” And so are you! Repeat this “small” exercise at least 20 times a day. Forget eyestrain. When your managers see you saluting them as they stroll through the office, you’ll immediately be recognized as a person they want to keep around.

“Get a good desk chair and take the time to adjust it properly,” is another small suggestion, to which Rubin adds, “A friend works at a big company where they have a person who specializes in this task.”

Talk about a dream job! You would not be satisfied with getting the desk chair to conform to the rules of ergonomics. You would test the heck out of those chairs, making sure they are appropriate for short naps, major sleep sessions and just passing out after a long liquid lunch.

“Think about how your space could be more pleasant,” is another mini-suggestion from Rubin. “Could you invest in some desk accessories to help stay organized? Could you replace that hideous lamp?”

Forget the investing idea. Though it would be nice to dip your tired tootsies in a Conair Waterfall Foot Spa with Lights, Bubbles and Heat, you certainly don’t want to spend money to encourage you to work more. But getting rid of the hideous lamp could be a happiness maker, and a moneymaker, too. Spray the thing with gold paint and sign your name. Put it up on Etsy with a big price, and your small improvement has really paid off.

Plus, you now have a great excuse to be late with your projects. How can they expect you to work in the dark?

“Get a phone headset,” could definitely result in big uptick of happiness. Yes, they are dorky, but it will make you look like you’re working, which will make your boss happy. And who says you have to plug it in?

“Get additional monitors” is another small move that I endorse, big-time. Nothing says this person is working harder than three to five monitors spread across a desk. You could have one for Facebook, one for Netflix, one for video monitoring your pet guinea pig, Maurice, one for watching the Home Shopping Network and one monitor, one really big monitor, for playing “Garou: Mark of the Wolves.”

Talk about productivity!

“Go outside at least once a day and, if possible, take a walk,” is the final small change we have time for today. Gretchen Rubin believes “the sunlight and activity is good for your focus, mood, and retention of information.”

I suppose this could be true for some people, but with your Dracula lifestyle of shuttling between your office, your tavern and your bed, sunlight is going to do little to improve your disposition. As for focus, who needs it? Your work life is infinitely better when you let it pass you by in a blur. Finally, improving your ability to retain information is not likely to improve your mood. The best moments of your day are when the endless droning of your co-workers makes you slip into a fugue state and forget where you are.

But do take that walk! Don’t have a destination in mind? How about Kathmandu?

It’s sure to bring big happiness — just as long as you keep walking.

Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He now works out of Bellingham, Washington. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at


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