I’ve noticed that when I say “Hi” to some people I pass by these days, they’re more than likely to use a popular street-speak reply that sounds more like, “Howru” Or, “’Sup.” Note the absence of a question mark. They’re not asking. Feeling not so much acknowledged as texted, it’s easy to feel a bit saddened, or even annoyed, at the lack of any real interaction. It’s phony caring, a leftover from preceding generations that used to go, “How are you?” meaning, I care.
If caring among strangers is endangered, years ago I devised a fun solution to keep it alive. With many folks I meet, both friends and unknowns such as waitpersons in restaurants or service personnel who work on my house, I play a sort of game. I ask the person, “How’s it going?” Whatever their answer, I assign it a number.
If the person says “Okay,” then I listen for the tone of their voice, and say, “Sounds like about a Six.” Getting right away that I’m putting their attitude on a Zero-to-Ten happiness scale, they either agree thoughtfully, or say, “No-o, I’d say a seven; maybe even an eight.” So, some truly self-upgrade my rating. If, to my query they answer, “Great!” and I know they mean it, then my answer is, “Wow! Is that a Nine, or a full Ten?” And we laugh, sharing our mutual satisfaction in their happiness report.
Why on earth would I take the occasion to “number” people’s moods?
Several reasons:• People appreciate someone’s actually taking the time to tune in to their feelings.
• Some will choose to open up and share information about circumstances in their lives.
• It gives them instant feedback on what they’re putting out into the world.
• It invites them to upgrade their own feelings on the spot.
So, more than just a game, it’s actually a way to share the power of a famous observation made over a century ago by psychologist William James:
“The greatest discovery of any generation is that a human can alter his life by altering his attitude.”
One theory in psychology research suggests that we all have a happiness “set-point” that largely determines our overall well-being. We oscillate around this set point, becoming happier when something positive happens or the opposite, afterwards returning to an equilibrium point.
But this set-point, to a certain extent, can be reset. Although our general mood levels and well-being are partially determined by factors like genetics and upbringing, roughly 40 percent of our happiness is within our control. In fact, a large body of research in the field of positive psychology has shown that happiness is a choice that anyone can make.
So, how’s your attitude? How are you?
Mark Nation is a globally-recognized management expert, leadership consultant, executive coach, author, and speaker. He is personally driven to discover what makes individuals, teams, and organizations amazing—those elements which power the heart and soul of individuals and businesses worldwide. His new book, Made for Amazing: An Instrumental Journey of Authentic Leadership Transformation, helps people to identify and optimize their unique talents.
Read more at How’s Your Attitude?