The plane was still boarding when a man in an airlines uniform stopped to talk with the passenger ahead of me. “I know that guy,” he chuckled pointing to an image on the passenger’s iPad. They spoke a moment about a famous someone, then the uniformed man took his leave. He walked past the first class bulkhead, entered the cockpit, and sat in the left seat. Our pilot was in position.
From his demeanor, I’d assumed he was a friendly flight attendant. While cabin staff aren’t required to exchange pleasantries with the passengers, it’s certainly more customary than having the pilot stop to chitchat. Here’s a guy who loves his job, I thought—all of it—not just the flying.
Later, when I was at the gate for my connecting flight, a custodian came by to clean the carpet of a mess presumably created by a child with crackers. “I could vacuum,” she said, “but if it’s something I can sweep up, I’d rather do that. Save us all the noise.” She went on to tell me some of the things she had found over the years on her rounds. Once there was a bottle of gin that she handed off to some colleagues—who proceeded to get drunk and neglected to show up for their shift. Apparently, they ate crow the next day so the boss gave them a second chance. She liked that about the supervisor, I did too. While she chatted, she dispatched every crumb into the dustpan. When the worker had finished, she thanked me for the gab and moved on. I hope conversations with waiting passengers was part of the day’s enjoyment for her. She certainly boosted my mood.
Loving your work might also be taking pride in, excelling at or just having a good time while doing it. My day is made better by witnessing the smiling and industrious in contrast to the bored and grumpy. It doesn’t matter what the type of job—any worker can find elements of satisfaction at work.
There are times when you know you’re in your groove. The day goes quickly and you realize you’re content, even happy. Perhaps you took a risk and got great results. Or that you had an interesting interaction with someone, learned something new or everything just flowed right. The moments I’ve felt the best about my work have been when I was challenged to use everything I know. It was my evaluation that mattered, not anyone else’s.
How do we magnify the experience of pleasure in a work day? Start by noticing what is within your control that contributes to your sense of well-being on the job. If you need someone else to behave a certain way (or be absent!), that doesn’t qualify. Focus on what you can do. Check in with yourself during the day to actually notice when you’re having a good day. Name it and claim it. Amplify those positive feelings, don’t take them for granted or let them fade off. Tell folks at home about your day and provide details—that’s the way to relive those moments while your audience receives the benefit of your positive mood.
As I’ve thought about the friendly pilot, I expect he conversed with a loved one to report the day. “Yep, an unstable weather system so we struggled to maintain altitude and find smooth airspace. It was still turbulent, but we brought ‘er into Atlanta just fine.” I hope he was satisfied because I was very grateful for the crew’s experience and ability, not just their affability. All those flight training hours to get a commercial pilot’s license were put into practice. Friendly and skilled. Now there’s a combo I really love.