Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Happiness in the Workplace

A friend at work sent me this link to a book about about finding happiness in the workplace. At first glance I thought it sounded a little goofy, but while giving it a chance and reading the introduction I thought this quote was interesting:

"I can safely say that there is no greater job than making other people happy! It’s continually fun, exciting and rewarding. And when you think about it, isn’t that really the true purpose of most jobs—to make people happy? You must make the customers happy. Or your co-workers. Or the boss. Or the shareholders.

A nurse who makes the patients happy and healthy is better than one who only makes them healthy. A boss who makes his employees happy and efficient is better than one who only touts efficiency. A teacher who can make his students smarter and happier is better than one who only passes on knowledge."

I thought it raised a good point about rather than just doing your job (whatever it might be), you should try to also try to show a way towards happiness for others with whom you interact. I really don't like the phrase make someone happy as it implies you have control over other people and can just cause them to feel a certain way. If there's one thing I've learning in life regarding interpersonal relationships, it's this: try as you may, you really can't control other people's feelings - it's up to each individual to be happy (or sad, or angry, etc.) on their own. However, you can do your best to show people a way towards feeling happy.

So far I haven't read more than the introduction to this book, so I can't say whether it's good or not, but it's free to read via the web site link I provided above. It's worth a look. Hopefully it doesn't tout the trend of trying to generate happiness in people by giving false phrase and lowering expectations. I still cringe when I recall reading the results of an international study measuring self-esteem and performance of students from different countries. Americans were rated among the highest in regards to self-esteem and confidence in their abilities, yet actually performed near the bottom when tested on actual skills. We definitely don't need books encouraging that form of blind happiness.