The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

April 11, 2013

If you’re happy and you know it, goof off

By Jeff Mullin, columnist
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Are you happy?

I mean in general, not just because of the fact it is Friday and it is, allegedly at least, spring (though the winter blast earlier this week certainly seems to belie that fact).

I mean, are you content with your lot in life, your place in the universe and your role in the great circle of life?

In other words, are you happy, do you know it and will you clap your hands?

According to the annual Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, we Oklahomans are, in general, not a cheery lot.

Oklahoma was No. 10 on the list of unhappiest states, according to the survey.

We are better off than West Virginia, which topped the list of unhappiest states. The happiest state was Hawaii (though I’m sure they would trade their cost of living for ours any day).

Why are Oklahomans so glum? The index ranks states in terms of six factors — life evaluation, physical health, emotional health, healthy behavior, work environment and basic access (to resources).

Oklahoma ranked 40th in life evaluation, 39th in emotional health, 8th in work environment, 44th in physical health, 45th in healthy behaviors and 41st in basic access.

We are pessimistic, we are stressed, we’re too fat, we smoke too much, we don’t exercise enough, we don’t eat right and we don’t go to the doctor enough. But we are happy at work, so at least that is something.

Which brings us to another study, this one conducted by leadership training and research firm Leadership IQ.

According to these folks, the best way to be happy at work is by goofing off. No wonder I love my job so much.

The study found that at 42 percent of the 200 companies studied, workers who spent part of their day doing totally non-work-related things are more engaged with their jobs than even middle-of-the-road or superstar workers.

Of course, goofing off makes you less productive, which forces your co-workers to take up the slack for you, which means they become unhappier, so it is a vicious cycle.

Inc.com has a list of more practical suggestions to help you be happier on the job. Here are a few:

• Don’t take yourself so seriously, nobody else does. “If you can’t laugh at yourself,” according to Inc.com, “everyone else will be laughing behind your back.” And here I always thought they were laughing with me.

• Daydream more rather than less. Actually, daydreaming should be in my job description. How else could I come out with this mess three mornings a week? I’m not daydreaming, boss, I’m writing. No, really.

• Remember that nobody is in charge of your happiness except you. Unless you are married, then you’re not in charge of anything.

But that’s OK, since another study, this one conducted by Michigan State University, found that married men are happier than single ones.

• Smile and laugh more frequently. I’ve tried that. When I sit in my cubicle chuckling to myself, they threaten to have me committed. And when I smile all the time they think I have gas pains.

• Don’t waste precious energy on malice and gossip. Wouldn’t dream of it. Hey, by the way, did you hear about Fred and the new girl in accounting?

• Don’t worry what others think about you; it’s none of your business. I don’t worry about this. I know everyone here loves me, don’t you guys. Ah, guys?

• Trash everything in your work area that isn’t useful or beautiful? Does that include me?

• Remember that however bad (or good) a situation is, it will inevitably change. Which goes right along with another, believe that the best is yet to come, no matter what.

In other words, it’s Friday, how bad could things be?

Happiness is different for everybody.

To be happy, live with joy, live with purpose, live for others, live for today, smile constantly, laugh readily, love as much as you can.

Who has time to be unhappy? Not me, I’m too busy goofing off at work.



Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at jmullin@enidnews.com.