By Marilyn Vinch

Hard work, when it’s meaningful and it’s a choice, can be its own reward. But when deadlines are pressing, your boss is breathing down your neck, or the numbers just aren’t adding up – you may find your philosophy needs broadening if you’re to stay on top of things and keep your morale raised.

If the thought of discovering a ritual for happiness in your place of work seems remote, there’s a simple solution: look further afield. Every culture on Earth has its own little tricks and processes that its people use to keep their mood up when times are hard. While their basis may be geographically specific, many of the principles can be applied around the world, and even make their way into your office.

The Egyptian people, for example, have the tradition of Tarab: a form of music, performance and feeling that speaks not just to the soul but to the hormones – the familiarity and enjoyment of this music triggers the release of dopamine in the brain, creating pleasure and even ecstasy.

You might get a similar effect from listening to or singing along with music from your own background: whether it’s irresistible pop hits of your childhood or the traditional songs of your culture, a twenty minute blast before work or as part of your tea break can have a great motivating effect.

In Iceland, they depend upon each other. Even when times get tough, the morale of the Icelandic people remains buoyant, since community spirit swells in times of adversity. As with the idea of using music in your daily routine, community and group awareness is something that should be nurtured through bad times and good. If you work in an office, think of ways you can bring each isolated worker together to help each other on their respective tasks. If you work alone, consider finding a community such as a regular café or freelance coworking space to join.


In China, tai chi keeps the mind, body, and soul in balance through all the ups and downs; in India, they prefer yoga. The Japanese cultivate mindfulness techniques such as hanami – a form of flower appreciation. There’s a whole rundown of some of the great ideas you can borrow in this graphic here. Don’t wait for all that hard work to get you down: find a happiness ritual you like, and figure out how you can adapt it to your own culture and circumstances.

Image source: hometogo


About Marilyn Vinch 

 I’m a freelance writer and a digital nomad currently based in London, England. I write about both lifestyle and business – especially travel, personal growth and work/life balance.