What is the secret to a happy day?
The other day I was reading an article from Stephen Covey. In this article he had explained a principle called as the 90/10 principle. This is what he had to say about the principle –
10% of life is made up of what happens to you, ……90% of life is decided by how you react……
What exactly does this mean?
It simple means that you do not have control over 10% of what happens to you. The remaining 90% is different and this is very much in our control.
There is no rocket science to happiness. It is a simple decision on your part – to be happy or, not. We are always given 2 choices of reacting to a particular situation. Whether we will be happy or, not is decided by the choice that we pick. This principle was a beautiful explanation to this concept.
Did you ever have control over a cup of coffee spilling onto your shirt, a pedestrian jumping across you vehicle or, the printer cartridge printing unclear all of a sudden? Not really, isn’t it? But how you react to this situation is something that you have complete control over.
The key to getting this 90% right is to maintain your composure, be calm, smile and just move on. In doing that you give a pleasant approach to the others and they too tend to forget the frustration and dissatisfaction that they are surrounded with and in turn makes a happy day for them too.
The first thing to in all such situations where you would have shouted at or, yelled at, is to remain calm and composed. Stephen Covey explains this with a beautiful example –
You are eating breakfast with your family. Your daughter knocks over a cup of coffee onto your business shirt. You have no control over what just what happened. What happens when the next will be determined by how you react.You curse. You harshly scold your daughter for knocking the cup over.
She breaks down in tears. After scolding her, you turn to your spouse and criticize her for placing the cup too close to the edge of the table. A short verbal battle follows. You storm upstairs and change your shirt. Back downstairs, you find your daughter has been too busy crying to finish breakfast and get ready for school. She misses the bus. Your spouse must leave immediately for work.
You rush to the car and drive your daughter to school. Because you are late, you drive 40 miles an hour in a 30 mph speed limit. After a 15-minute delay and throwing $60 traffic fine away, you arrive at school. Your daughter runs into the building without saying goodbye. After arriving at the office 20 minutes late, you find you forgot your briefcase. Your day has started terrible. As it continues, it seems to get worse and worse. You look forward to coming home, When you arrive home, you find small wedge in your relationship with your spouse and daughter.
Why? Because of how you reacted in the morning. Why did you have a bad day?
- Did the coffee cause it?
- Did your daughter cause it?
- Did the policeman cause it?
- Did you cause it?
The answer is “4”.
You had no control over what happened with the coffee. How you reacted in those 5 seconds is what caused your bad day. Here is what could have and should have happened.
Coffee splashes over you. Your daughter is about to cry. You gently say, “It’s ok honey, you just need, to be more careful next time”. Grabbing a towel you rush upstairs. After grabbing a new shirt and your briefcase, you come back down in time to look through the window and see your child getting on the bus. She turns and waves. You arrive 5 minutes early and cheerfully greet the staff. Your boss comments on how good the day you are having.
The application of this 90/10 principle at work is also very effective. More often that not, the stress and tension that you feel at work is because of the choice of the wrong way of reacting to a situation. At such otherwise stressful situations like a loss of job, application of the 90/10 principle to put your energy into constructive things could help you handle the situation much better.