Recently, Momasphere had a chance to talk to the inspiring Cathy L. Greenberg, PhD, co-author of a best-selling book series and internationally acclaimed executive coach and happiness expert, about what inspired her to focus on happiness in her work, and some of the lessons she has learned while conducting her extensive research for her newest book that focuses on working mothers. In Momasphere's first Live Video Event: What Happy Working Mothers Know: New Science of Happiness, Sun. 4/18 Cathy will be sharing insights from her book What Happy Working Mothers Know based on years of research. The video event will give participants a chance to interact with Cathy while she lays the groundwork for an understanding of the science of happiness as well as ‘happiness tips and traps’ that we can all learn from. To register for the video event: http://bit.ly/c3bBIH
Q. Among the numerous accolades and rave reviews for your book What Happy Working Mothers Know, there is a quote from Steve Bonner, CEO of Cancer Treatment Centers of America, which encapsulates a concept you hit on over and over in the book. “…that happiness drives success more than the other way around.” Most of us are programmed to think otherwise. Did you have an AHA moment about this? If so, can you tell us a little about that?
A. Yes. Happiness really does come before success. If you are a basically a happy person with normal ups and downs- you will have a foot up on success because you see opportunity even in failure. My AHA moment was when I lost my parents and realized their love for life and individual style would always be alive in me. While my Dad was a glass half full, my mom was a glass half empty (from a personal happiness point of view). They taught me how to see both sides of the equation and appreciate why people may see the world differently. Success is what you achieve when you are at your best - when you are truly happy.
Q. In the preface to the book, you are described as a jet-setting consultant and coach who suddenly hit the “wall of life.” Can you share a little about what happened and the impact this had on your work at the time?
A. It's hard to put into words…I was considered highly successful by all standards in business: income level, a healthy, happy child, a terrific marriage (or so I thought) and all at once my world shifted with the loss of a child in my third trimester, my marriage dissolved due in part to my business success and heavy global travel, my health was crippled with the diagnosis of a potentially terminal illness and my mother died from cancer. There was no amount of money, no title, no level of professional success that could help me- but me. It was a wake-up call to review, rebalance and renew. All the books in this series focus on some aspect of my life, What Happy Companies Know, What Happy Women Know and now What Happy Working Mothers Know touch on "the wall of life" taking tragedy to triumph.
Q. I understand that you interviewed more than 1,000 women for the book. What was the criteria you used for selecting them? How did you find your interviewees?
A. We asked for assistance from both our client partners as well as those in support of high performing moms in general. For example, Momcorps.com, who helped us create and post an internet survey on their site. They captured almost 800 on line interviews in only 72 hours. We followed-up with face to face focus groups around the globe in Asia, South America, North America and Europe with Accenture, Comcast, PNC Bank, Walmart and Sam's Club just to name a few of the wonderful professional friends who supported this research.
Q. Of your ten tips for happiness, is there one that stands out above the rest?
A. Choose happiness. Believe it or not, happiness is a choice you make everyday- and it's an important health factor- especially for busy moms. Negative feelings like guilt or resentment simply drain us of our best performance at work or at home.
Q. Based on your many interviews, was there one happiness trap that seemed to keep coming up most often?
A. Money Matters and Whose Needs were tops. Probably because some of us think that we are working "just" for money or "just" for our families. In fact, we don't just work for money- we work to support our sense of purpose. If we forget that, we can feel it when we get up to face the new day, it feels draining. As far as Whose Needs, if we are simply working to make everyone else "happy," we will eventually run the risk of being unhappy.
Q. As an author and consultant, who has been sharing your book and research with international audiences for many years, have you seen a significant difference between the challenges faced by working mothers in America versus their counterparts abroad? If so, is there something you see that can be done about it?
A. Yes. That’s an interesting point. Guilt about going back to work after becoming a Mom is an American Centric idea. In fact our moms in Asia expect to work and their family system is set up to support that idea. Moms in Asia said they did not feel the conflict until "American Ex-pats" migrated to Asia with their young families and shared the American mental model first hand. Also, moms is South America feel good about working and taking care of their families and they too have a family structure that supports working moms. This idea is supported by the cultural norms and practices in those countries where nuclear families are more likely to be in proximity to assist.
To hear more about the science of happiness and Cathy Greenberg’s advice for working (and non-working moms), tune in this weekend to Momasphere's first Live Video Event: What Happy Working Mothers Know: New Science of Happiness, Sun. 4/18 with Cathy Greenberg. Register: http://bit.ly/c3bBIH