How to Make Life Better Right Where You Are

Every time I listen to music I like while I work, I think of my old work colleague and friend, @mutgoff.

Maggie was already at Twitter when I started in 2009, moving and shaking and doing cool stuff. One day, at some point during the years we worked together, she sent an email to employees sharing a simple, special experience she had had that day.

Here’s what happened to her:

In the middle of an otherwise busy work-day, she plugged in her earphones, and listened to music.

That was it. She listened to music. Music she liked. Music she could rock out to. Music that wasn’t just white noise or classical or sounds to make the background chatter go away. Music that made her dance a bit in her chair.

And it was this small experience that she wanted to share with the rest of her colleagues.

“What could we do today to make life and work a little better right where we were?” Maggie asked. Could we turn on The Killers or Modest Mouse? And then turn up the volume a little higher?

Or was there something entirely different we could do? Something that had nothing to do with music and everything to do with us being happier. Could we take a break and buy a latte at that cool hole-in-the-wall down the street? Could we walk to Whole Foods and buy a small bunch of flowers for our desk? Could we spend five minutes laughing with a colleague?

The question was simple, powerful, and important: What could we do today to make our life — right where we are — just a little bit better?

So, to you: What can you do today to make it a bit better right where you are?

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9 thoughts on “How to Make Life Better Right Where You Are

  1. I’m a communicator for provincial hospice palliative care association. I feel far from the work as I sit in an office, as opposed to the bedside, craving reminders…Within the sector, I’m a huge fan and promoter of the power of music – I’ve watched the impact of music therapy first hand. I have a prosperity Himalayan salt bowl on my desk. I turn it on. I turn the lights off and I find the exact right jazz piece….it makes for the most productive days of my week, giving me presence and the opportunity to re-connect.

  2. Greetings Claire,

    Thank you for this post. It reminds me of the song Brighten The Corner Where You Are.

    Allow me to suggest a small thing everyone can add to any activity to compound the good and healthy effects: Touch someone.

    We live in the most digitally connected and physically untouched society in history.

    Shaking hands, a hand on the shoulder, a hug… Our mind and body require eight meaningful physical contacts each day to maintain good health. So reach out and touch someone.

    Conrad Hall

  3. Timely read….last week i plugged in at work for the first time in years. I though as my responsibilities increased, maybe i couldnt bring as much of my life to work as i used to. Well it worked a treat. Less distractions and songs brining happy memories to the mind throught the day. Along with rewarding myself with a hot choc and a walk after completing my first major task of the day, lm finding listerning to music a great reward.

  4. Listening to classical musical music, reading something inspirational, meditation, and working out inspire me to take on the day and to spread happiness. I enjoy reading your happiness quotes. I also loved what you recommended in your short video about tackling our most challenging job earliest in the day so that we can experience the relief of getting it off our shoulders and enjoying the rest of the day.

  5. Funny you should bring this up today as I experience a feeling that I usually get but maybe do not recognize the power of it as I should. Today I spoke with a co-worker that is going through a ton of hardship in her life. Feeling overburdened, she had a need to just spill her problems that seem to come all at once. There was not a thing I could do for her as her issues are all very personal. Another co-worker and I decided to try to lift her spirits. Stacia is a nature lover so all we did was go outside and look for nature that we could put on her desk. We came back with nature– some wild, some not — that we put in a vase on her desk. She could not have been more thankful.
    And I find that it’s the small things that we do for people that make life better for the recipient and the giver. Small acts of kindness go a long way in saying “I care”.

  6. This is a great reminder that we all need those little things to take us (virtually) away. Yesterday was my birthday. The ladies in my office did an outstanding job of decorating my desk – pretty, pink, faux flowers were stuck to my monitor, pictures of balloons and stars & more faux flowers, along with ‘happy birthday’ confetti were all over my desk! Since I’m the receptionist, everyone that walked in told me happy birthday and what fun that was! When I came in this morning, I realized that I didn’t want the beautiful fun to end so I’m leaving it here all week. A reminder that even a stuffy office can be transformed into a human place with just a little color & imagination. Next, I plan on getting some nice fragrance oils like Janet Thompson just mentioned!

  7. Hi Claire — Thank you for asking this question.
    Each day becomes better for me when I remember to be grateful. That’s why I started a blog called Every day I write about the things (most of them quite small) that I’m grateful for, and my “compass” ends up much more steady.
    Today, for example, I wrote about conversations so intense, that I wake up the next morning and close my eyes again when I first remember them. I don’t close my eyes to shy away from those conversations, but only to acknowledge their breathtaking power, that’s like a weightless blow to the gut, that lingers.
    I’m grateful for those kinds of things, and for keeping a digital diary of them.
    Gratitude — and making it public! — makes every day better.
    Thank you,

  8. Hi Claire, I love this story you have shared. I am a firm believer in creating a workspace that brings you comfort and joy. I so often do not achieve this though, so I am grateful that you have reminded me of the importance of surrounding myself with feel good stuff. I do the usual things like listening to music, but now I am encouraged to crank up the volume, as I really do not need to be restrained. I used to buy the flowers, but of late have not been bothering to do this, so today I will buy flowers in my lunchbreak. I also used to burn nice smelling oils on my desk, mainly to block out the awful smell of my boss’s tuna lunch! and may revisit that practice until someone tells me I cannot do it.
    Additionally, I put up lots of images that I can look at during times of thought or stress that bring me inspiration and time out, by taking me to another place. I have many pictures just like the ‘soaring bird over the water’ you have included in your article. Thank you – as I am a nature nut and just love seeing images of animals. I also loved the cool picture you posted once with a wonderful workspace that had a relaxing and beautiful outlook – I thought how I would love to work in that little corner. I am lucky where I work in that I sit nearby to a very large window that looks into the Australian bush, so I often get to see and hear many of our amazing native birds screeching and singing. I have also thought that I would like to have a small fish bowl to ponder, however that would involve an unnecessary amount of cleaning and work, so I gave up on that one. I did at one stage, when the workplace had a problem with rats and mice, ask management to consider having a ‘resident cat’ which could keep the rodent problem in check, as well as bringing pleasure for the staff, but then I realised that only some of the staff would like cats and the rest could have allergies, so that idea did not float either.
    All in all though, I am very glad that you have reminded me to think about ways to create a workspace for myself that I want to be in and that will encourage me to be creative and productive. My own little sanctuary aaaggghhhhh … that is until the boss breaks the silence! Janet