I have the most beautiful 2½ year old boy you’ve ever seen. (I know, your kid or grandkid is cute too – just go with me on this.) Each morning, when I head out to work, it is the tiniest bit heartbreaking to say goodbye. Having said that, I love working and my job means so much to me. I always want my little guy to understand that so the way I talk to him, and myself, is a big part of experiencing my life in a happy and positive, way. I never say to him “Mommy has to go to work now.” I always say “Mommy gets to go to work now.” See the difference? I don’t have to go; I get to go. During some professional training many years ago I learned about how self-talk can change you. Some days I’m more successful than others. When I became a parent I really kicked up my practice of positive self-talk in order to help my kids understand how much power we all have over our own attitudes and the way we feel. Simply the language we use with ourselves can make a difference in how happy or even how productive we are.
How you perceive your commitments and your abilities can change how much enjoyment you can get out of them. With my two teenage stepchildren, many a morning, as they exit the car at school you can hear me saying to them “Who makes it a great day?!” and they reply in unison “We do.” Truth be told, they don’t say it enthusiastically, but my hope is that this kind of positive talk will help them realize that they are control, to a large degree, as to whether it’s a good or a bad day. On the best days they do give me a hardy and loud “WE do!” I’m pretty sure they are mocking me, but I’ll take it and hopefully in the long term it will make them happier people.
I’m no Pollyanna – I get that life is hard sometimes and things go wrong. My co-worker and friend Stacey Wilson is battling cancer right now and you will never find anyone with a better attitude during tough times. She knows what she values in life. As she goes through chemo she knows it will make her better so she makes the best of the situation. People keep saying to her “you seem so happy” and they say it almost as a critique. Her reply to this is “Why not be happy? It won’t help things at all to be negative.” She has her hard days, but the vast majority of the time she uses her great attitude to make the experience more than just something to get through, but something to find happiness within.
In case you think I’m a little out there, know that I’m not the only one who is talking about these ideas. The connection between happiness, attitude and even business success is being explored more and more. Harvard Business Review devoted an entire issue to the subject of happiness in January-February 2012 and there is a variety of research on the subject of happiness and self-talk and how it relates to productivity. There is a new app called Happier that allows you to document and categorize the things that make you happy on a daily basis and Fast Company recently ran an article titled “How One Company Taught Its Employees How to be Happier, and What Happened Next.”
As we struggle through the incredible fast pace of life and tackle personal and professional issues, one way to keep up momentum is to remind ourselves of all that we ‘get’ to do and how happiness isn’t something you wait for, it’s something you can talk yourself into.
Sidebar? On this same note – don’t miss keynote speaker Judy Hissong at this year’s CPAs in Business and Industry Conference on June 19. She’ll talk about tips and tricks to manage stress and be better at work and life!