This study is a rallying cry for personal responsibility. Rothbard challenges you to stop blaming your boss or your co-workers for ruining your day: “The mood you bring with you to work has a stronger effect on the day’s mood — and on work performance – than mood changes caused by events in the workplace.”
This is good news for people who accept personal responsibility for doing the things proven to create a good mood — like a reasonable commute, a morning visit to the gym, and, in a more broad sense, cultivating a sunny outlook. For people who don’t want to take personal responsibility for their happiness, you will have to figure out a way to discount this study in order to continue blaming other people at the office for your bad mood.
This means, of course, that if your personal life is going well, you are likely to be happier at work. Because you are more likely to walk into work in a good mood: “Start-of-day mood may come from myriad sources including persistent life challenges and opportunities, positive or negative family experiences before leaving for work, or even the commute into work,” writes Rothbard. “Non-work and work domains are permeable, and mood often spills over form one to the other. Specifically, start-of-day mood might affect one’s appraisal of subsequent events.”
This is reason number fifty why the term “work-life-balance” doesn’t work. It’s not a balance so much as a synergy that we should aim for. Work and life have to feed each other rather than provide a counter-balance.