For most employees, going to work means giving up their smile. The most recent edition of the Employee Engagement Report, conducted by human-resources firm TINYpulse, revealed that only 30 percent of employees around the world say they are happy at work. So, if you’re feeling less than satisfied with what you’re doing, you have plenty of company. However, Gail Lowney Alofsin, an adjunct professor at the University of Rhode Island, believes that “we’ve got to reframe our thinking” to transform our feelings about our personal and professional lives.
“We don’t have to go to work,” Lowney Alofsin told attendees in “Realize Maximum Happiness and Success With Work/Life Integration,” a session at PCMA Convening Leaders 2017 in Austin, Texas. “You don’t have to go to your son’s baseball game.”
Instead, Lowney Alofsin noted, that people “get to” be part of these activities. They are privileges — not obligations, and she believes that the same rings true for every aspect of the workday. Whether you’re creating a new proposal for a client, meeting with potential vendors for an upcoming event, or traveling for a site visit, Lowney Alofsin recommends looking at each item on your to-do list with a new perspective. She cited a quote from acclaimed self-development author Wayne Dyer, who earned the title “The Father of Motivation” before he died in 2015. “Change the way you look at things,” Dyer said, “and the things you look at change.”
Sure, some skeptics might say, this sounds good, but aren’t there many factors out of my control that affect my personal happiness? Not really. According to Sonja Lyubomirsky, a psychology professor at the University of California, Riverside, happiness is made up of three key pieces: genetics, your personal outlook, and circumstances. Of course, you can’t control your ancestry — genetics make up 50 percent of happiness — but you certainly have a say over your personal outlook, which accounts for 40 percent of happiness. And those circumstances in which you have to deal with a stubborn client or an angry boss? They make up just 10 percent of the equation.
Adjusting your outlook starts early. Lowney Alofsin highlighted the importance of tackling the biggest challenges at the start of each day. “Walk in, and eat the frog,” she told her Convening Leaders audience, referring to Mark Twain’s famous belief that eating a live frog for breakfast means the rest of the day inevitably will be easier. “This is not your practice life,” Lowney Alofsin reminded the audience, “so go out there and live it every day.”
And when you’re living it, remember that are you don’t have to do anything. You get to.
Want to catch up on more of the conversation from Austin? Click here to access more than 40 sessions from Convening Leaders 2017. And if you’re looking for more opportunities to feel better at work, check out this article from Convene on why asking for a new title might have an impact on your happiness.