The Happiness Guy: Feeling Out of Control?

If there’s one thing sure to cause unhappiness, it’s the feeling that we lack control over things around us. If it’s all out of our hands, what’s the point of working at a particular job, or being in a relationship or… getting out of bed?

Studies show that people with a greater sense of control at work are more likely to have job and family satisfaction. They’re also better at their jobs, research reveals. Even life expectancy can improve, according to a 1977 study, which showed that elderly residents of nursing homes tend to live longer when they are responsible for daily tasks such as caring for their own houseplants.

Not feeling particularly influential in your own world? Start small. Consider the example of Zorro: Before the masked man could become a swashbuckling hero, legend holds, a mentor taught him to swordfight inside a small circle drawn in the sand. Once he mastered self-defense inside this tiny patch of dirt, he expanded his skills and became a dynamo.

Try creating your own Zorro Circle. Is work piling up, no matter what you do? Start by keeping one half of your desk tidy at first. Soon the entire stack will be under control, making it easier for you to catch up on all your tasks.

What are some other areas in life you could improve by starting with a narrowed focus?


Shawn Achor is a Harvard-trained researcher and best-selling author of The Happiness Advantage and Before Happiness. Get a daily dose of happy at Shawn's Facebook page.

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