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Getting ourselves into a good mood – by blundering, if nothing else

Marja-Liisa Manka | 24.05.2013

There is a constant flow of bad news through the media about crises, restructurings, stress and bullying. It can even make us believe that we cannot influence our destinies in any way, because Somebody Else is leading us like a navigator. This, in turn, easily leads to passivity, sickness and even acquired helplessness. 


That is not in anybody’s best interest. Every one of us can contribute through daily actions, which only takes an effort. Feelings are contagious, which is why we should pay attention to what kind of moods we express.

It is important that we reinforce positive feelings, because according to research, they also widen our perception, enable creativity and even contribute to our health. They enable us to see the forest for the trees and focus on the essential. At the same time, our employers will benefit from the improvement in our performance.

We should put our heads together at the workplace and think how to develop pleasure at work. Could we perhaps highlight great moments with customers, make a habit of praising our colleagues and start positive gossips behind their backs? What could we be grateful for? Why not reveal our most embarrassing blunders to each other so that they would not be repeated?

A good number of times I’ve put people into a good mood telling them about my visit in a hypermarket where I didn’t find a sales assistant in the paints department. There was a notice on the wall advising customers to call a sales assistant using the phone on the left at the back of the store. I looked and looked for it, but I only found a green button with a running stick figure on it. I pressed the button and immediately knew that I had made a mistake. An alarm siren went off and a crowd of sales assistants and guards emerged behind the rear wall asking what had happened.

I had to confess that it had been me. ”Can’t you tell the difference between a phone and a button,” one of the sales assistants asked me. “I’m only a professor,” I answered. If nothing else, I got immediate service, but not the paint I wanted. And what’s more, I failed to do any grocery shopping, because I was embarrassed and couldn’t concentrate for all the alarms that wouldn’t stop. Not until I got into my car did I burst into laughter. 

Marja-Liisa Manka, D.Phil., M.Soc.Sc., is a Research Director and Professor at  The Research and Education Centre Synergos of the School of Management at the University of Tampere.  She is the Social Science Professional of the Year 2011 and was awarded as the Advocate for a Good Working Life in 2011 by the Työ Terveys Turvallisuus magazine of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, FIOH.

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