Managers: Catch the Happiness Bug

It seems like a lot of people are getting on the happiness bandwagon.  You read more and more about it in blogs and posts.  Gretchen Rubin has written two books about it, The Happiness Project,” and “Happier at Home.”  Can it finally be that we are beginning to understand that being happy is a good thing?

Have you ever asked a co-worker how they are doing and they reply, “Just living the dream,” or “I wish it were Friday.”  Why do we wish half of our lives away or confess that it will never get any better?  Do we even think at all when we say these things? Why don’t we re-program our thinking to give positive responses instead of negative?  Is it simply more culturally acceptable to seem downtrodden?

We spend too much of our lives at work to make it a self-imposed miserable experience.  Thomas Wright, a researcher and professor of management at Kansas State University, says that happiness is not just a responsibility to ourselves, but to others as well.

About five years ago, I was the pipe major of a competitive bagpipe band.  I will always remember one piper in particular.  He was an older gentleman who had been in the military in his youth.  When jumping out of a plane, his parachute malfunctioned and he broke both ankles on impact.  His ankles were either not set right or did not heal correctly.  His feet were at odd angles and it pained me to watch him walk.  But walk and pipe he did!  Over the years, he had surgery after surgery for various joints, including having his left shoulder replaced.  Pipers typically play with their bags under the left arm.  He actually taught himself how to play with his right arm!  I mention this man because outwardly he had every reason to be unhappy or at least grumble about his physical health.  But he always had a smile on his face and a good word for everyone. When asked how he was, without fail he answered with an enthusiastic “Great!”  How is it that someone can be that happy when life seems to have dished out its worst?  Well, you may have heard that happiness is an inside job. We each have the power within ourselves to be happy, regardless of our circumstances.

Just as negativity is contagious, so, too, is happiness.  This is why it is vital for good managers to really focus on exuding a continuous positive vibe if they want their team to be happy and productive.  It’s a no-brainer that happy employees produce more than those who waste time complaining about every little thing.  While each one of us is ultimately responsible for our own happiness, a manager who leads the way can really make a difference.

According to the website the-happy-manager.com, a happy manager leads by the head, heart and hand.  The key is to combine:

  • Your knowledge, skills and abilities
  • With a love for what you do
  • And a clear understanding of why you do it

Managers often lose sight of the big picture as they get bogged down in the daily tasks of management.  Don’t forget that your team is looking to you for guidance.  If you’re exhibiting negativity or aloofness, you’re not helping your team and they may be projecting the same to your customers.

Imagine if you, as a manager, could positively change the attitude of your team, department and possibly your company by genuinely having a happier outlook and a kind word for everyone each day.  Don’t ever walk past someone without some sort of acknowledgment. It’s almost effortless when you have practiced it a bit, and you will be amazed as the changes unfold before you.

Tamara Trudeau | Bag Piper and Better Managers Editing Guru

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