Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Can you train yourself to be happy at work?

You can train for a marathon, you can train employees to follow safety rules at work, but is it possible to train yourself to be happy at work?

Karl Staib, author of Work Happy Now!, believes that by eliminating complaining out of your day it can force a positive change in your life and at work.

Karl recently signed himself up for a personal “No Complaining” 30-day challenge and discovered how putting situations in a positive light had the power to change attitudes of people around him, as well as his own attitude.

He explains how it basically comes down to how you phrase things:
“I might say, “I don’t feel like going to work today. I’m tired. My job doesn’t give me any incentive to work hard.” This is just whining. If I rephrase it and say, “I’ve been working really hard on this project and I need a break.” Then we start to turn the complaining into something more positive. If I rephrase it again and say, “Going to work is probably not the best choice for me right now, but I need to work on this important project.” Then we get into more of a “sharing complaining” territory.

You could say in a boisterous voice, “I’m going to work today and even though I’m tired, I’m going to accomplish great work.” It doesn’t sound so much like complaining, but reinforcing a positive state of mind. We all know it’s still complaining, but it’s a lot easier to handle for the people who have to listen.”

He followed two methods to reduce complaining:

1. If you complain about something, redirect your thoughts to something positive.

Instead of saying, “Arrgh, why do I have to do this report over? I wish they would make up their minds.”

Say, “Okay, they might not be right, but I don’t know all the reasons behind their decisions. I’ll redo this report and also take mental notes on how I would handle this situation. When I become an owner/manager I won’t make the same mistakes.”

Understand that the experience, whether positive or not, can be used to improve our skills. Looking at it in a positive light makes you feel like you have control over the situation where you may have felt powerless before.


2. Rephrase the complaint before you say it.

You’re thinking, “Arrgh, why do I have to do this report over?”

Rephrase that thought by saying, “Hmm, it’s interesting that they want me to do this report over.”


Flipping the complaint into a positive statement or rephrasing it can mean the difference between having a horrible day or a great one. Finding a way to enjoy the situation, even if it’s not how you originally intended it to turn out, will help you have a better day and be happier at work.

Here’s how Karl sums up his 30-day “No Complaining” challenge:

“No Complaining” for thirty days made me aware of many areas of my thoughts and emotions that were invisible before this challenge. This month has given me the most personal improvement I’ve seen all year. It helps to take a microscope to your inner thoughts. I’ve taken my work happiness to a whole new level.


Read more about Karl’s “No Complaining” challenge at Work Happy Now!

So, do you think you can train yourself to be happy at work? Do you think it’s a worthwhile experiment to try?

1 comment:

Karl - Work Happy Now said...

No complaining for thirty days was one of my favorite challenges to date. I have a few more that might be better, but we'll see if they will compete with the "no complaining" results.

Thank you so much for dissecting my challenge. It's always cool to see how others reframe it.


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