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Make the world better in 10 minutes or less

(MoneyWatch) COMMENTARY On my post the other day on how to be happier at work, a few people left comments noting the sheer misery of their offices. You may want to be happier at work, but at least one negative soul in the office wants everyone else to be unhappy at work. What can you do to flee the clutches of this black hole?

You probably won't convince this person to change. One commenter described a gentleman who'd kept a list -- an actual, physical list! -- of grudges going back 20 years.

But you can minimize the impact by reminding yourself that your world is not the same world that person is seeing. And indeed, you can keep making your world better -- even in little bits of time. Here are some ways to strike a blow against the dark side:

*Go to and donate $15 to a non-profit that inspires you. Care about education? is another option.

*Write a thank-you letter to someone who's made a difference in your life. Feel free to send it as an email -- it's more immediate (if not quite as nice as stationery).

*Go for a walk and pick up any trash you see.

*Schedule a 10 minute chat with anyone who asks you for career advice.

*Invite the new hire in your department to lunch -- the office can sometimes bear an uncanny resemblance to the middle school cafeteria

*Say a proper "hello" and "thank you" to anyone you interact with through the day. If you don't know their names, learn them.

*Keep a list of compliments, favors you've experienced, and the names of anyone who's saved you from making stupid mistakes -- going back 20 years if you'd like.

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Photo courtesy flickr user Jason Hargrove
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