I read a fascinating book, The Levity Effect
, by Adrian Gostick and Scott Christopher. It's about how "levity" can transform the workplace. They make a powerful case for why levity is an extremely effective tool
for helping people to work better.
Now, you might be thinking, as I did, "Levity would sure be tough for me, I'm not particularly funny, and I'm not particularly outgoing."
But what the authors mean by "levity" is really a sense of "lightness."
Ah, I thought, I'm trying! The Ninth of my Twelve Commandments is "Lighten up."
Gostick and Christopher include a quiz about workplace levity. Looking at it, I realized that most of my workplaces included these elements, which I'm sure contributed to the positive experience I had everywhere (except for the summer I worked as a waitress at Dos Hombres Mexican restaurant; zoikes, I did not like that job).
For example, as a clerk for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, I'd assumed that the atmosphere around the Supreme Court would be serious, thoughtful, and grand. And it was. But in her chambers, Justice O'Connor incorporated certain goofy aspects that made it a lot of fun, too. Each Halloween, she required her clerks to decorate elaborate pumpkins, and birthday celebrations were always a big deal, and she took the clerks on a yearly outing (we went fishing). And that sort of thing really made a difference.
How does your workplace measure up? Check out the 11 characteristics that Gostick and Christopher cites in their quiz/checklist:
- New employees are made to feel welcome
- Meetings are positive and light
- We have fun activities at least once a month
- It's common to hear people laughing around here
- I can be myself at work
- We have a lot of celebrations for special events
- When brainstorming, we like to have fun
- My boss is usually optimistic and smiling
- Customers would call us fun to do business with
- I have a friend at work who makes me laugh
- We have a good time together
It occurs to me that this is a good list for home, too; I just need to substitute a few words. I've been working hard to be a more light-hearted parent and spouse, and these are helpful points to keep in mind.
Have you found that an atmosphere of levity and good humor makes a difference to your workplace or home? Have you found any good strategies to keep things fun and light?
Related Stories By Gretchen Rubin
Gretchen Rubin is the author of the blockbuster New York Times bestsellers, Happier at Home and The Happiness Project--accounts of her experiences test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific studies, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier. On her popular blog, The Happiness Project, www.happiness-project.com, she reports on her daily adventures in pursuit of happiness. Gretchen Rubin is one of the most thought-provoking and influential writers on happiness to have emerged from the recent explosion of interest in the subject. Though her conclusions are sometimes counter-intuitive—for example, she finds that true simplicity is far from simple to attain—her insights resonate with readers of all backgrounds. Response to Rubin’s practical approach to happiness has been overwhelming. Psychiatrists suggest these books to their patients, professors assign them to their students, book groups read them, families pass them around, and groups have sprung up across the world where people do Happiness Projects together. Exhausted parents and college students, senior citizens and professionals, clergy and social workers, and people facing divorce, illness, and drift have written to tell Gretchen Rubin how she’s influenced them. A graduate of Yale and Yale Law School, Rubin started her career in law, and was clerking for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor when she realized she wanted to be a writer. She has written several books, including three novels safely locked in a desk drawer. But of everything she’s ever written, she says that her one-minute video, The Years Are Short, is the thing that resonates most with people. Rubin is an enthusiastic proponent of using technology to engage with readers about ideas, and she has a wide, active following on social media. “The Happiness Project” was even an answer on the game-show Jeopardy! She loves to connect with readers on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and YouTube—and on her popular daily blog, of course. Gretchen Rubin has a free monthly newsletter which features highlights from the blog and Facebook Page (sign up here) and the free daily “Moment of Happiness” email with a happiness quote every morning (sign up here). If you’re interested in launching a happiness project group, for people doing happiness projects together, you can get the “starter kit” here.