I have been speaking with someone who is really feeling ‘down’ right now. And, I have to admit…it’s kind of …well, ‘bringing me down’.
Partly it’s because this person has been ‘down’ for a very long time. And partly it’s because I am having to ‘fight’ to stay ‘up’ – and I don’t like it one bit.
So, I have made a decision to limit my time with this person. It may seem selfish, but I believe it’s what’s best for me – and for this person.
It has got me thinking about how we ‘grow’ that which we focus on (and surround ourselves with). If we only talk about what’s bad (difficult, unpleasant, frustrating, etc.), that’s what we notice. And then we say ‘see, I was right!!’ And guess what (you already know this)…everyone else around us starts to feel the same way we do…and we all fall into the muddy pool of despair together (okay, maybe I am getting a little dramatic!!)
Well, no more. I have never been a person who stayed ‘down’ for very long; and I have to admit, I have now reached my limit!
Do I sometimes feel ‘down’? Absolutely! I just refuse to choose to stay there. Frankly, it’s way too exhausting!
I have been researching the brain for a client project lately. You likely already know that we are actually hard-wired to notice danger (i.e. what’s bad). So, we need to ‘work’ at noticing what’s right. And, when we do…we release all sorts of wonderful neurotransmitters like dopamine that ‘open up’ our perspective and allow us to see more possibilities. Focusing on what’s wrong acutally ‘closes’ our viewpoint, and limits our ability to see options and opportunities right in front of us (we sometimes ‘fall’ right past them).
We can develop a habit of noticing what’s good (right, beautiful, pleasant, joyful, etc.), though. Begin by making it your intention every day to look for what’s right – for what’s good. Have your discussions be mostly about what’s going well. When someone shares good news with you – pass it on! Spend just a little time on the difficulties in your life. Share them, yes. Label them, for sure. Then reappraise or reframe, and carry on. The more you stay focused on the difficulties, the more they ‘grow’ (and the downward spiral continues).
I read a couple of articles recently that struck me and support this message. In ‘Can watching a move about Happiness make us Happier?’ The author, Ryan Niemiec, says ‘The renowned observational learning theorist, Albert Bandura, observed that most of what we learn in life comes from what we observe and that this information is encoded within us for future use. Thus, it makes perfect sense that watching a movie about happiness would help us learn more about happiness and actions we might take to become happy, as we observe the positive role models in a given film.”
And he goes on to say ” The idea is to expand and widen these moments of happiness. Along these lines, science guides us to reminisce about the positive (in this case, the positive aspects of the movie), to savor and relish in the positive state, and to share the positive feelings with others. When you see a movie that leads you to feel happy, what do you do with that positive emotion? Do you mindlessly leave the theater while the credits are rolling looking to be the first person in the parking lot? Do you turn to your mobile device while walking out of the theater, curious about who might have e-mailed or sent you a text message during the film?
Or do you take time to reflect on the work of art you just witnessed? Do you discuss the film with others? Do you examine the strengths and behaviors the characters in the film exhibited and how they might serve as models for you? Do you consider the ways in which the characters impacted you and what subsequent changes you might make?
Taking the time to be mindful of these questions might help you expand your happiness.”
A second article I read was meaningful to me more than one way. Mostly, because I have a daughter about to graduate from high school. And I, like all parents, have spent my life working to prepare her to be a resilient, productive, positive, happy person.
The article in HR Magazine called ‘Graduate Recruitment: You need a good attitude, not a good degree says Ernst & Young’ written by David Young states that “with over 22% of 16-24 year olds out of work, graduates will need to build resilience and get out of their comfort zones if they are going to realise their potential, according to the findings of a survey by Ernst & Young…(the survey) showed that while graduates have many core strengths, they aren’t always willing to take risks and can struggle to recover from setbacks.”
In other words, you have to be able to look up or you’ll fall down. And when your perspective is ‘down’ it really is just like falling…you are taken away, easily, down a vortex of negativity.
Looking up might take a little more work at first, but the ‘up’ view trump the other one – hands down!!
Deri Latimer, B Mgt, CSP, is an expert in possibilities for people! She is one of fewer than 10% of speakers globally who hold the designation of Certified Speaking Professional. Deri combines a Business degree in Human Resources with experience from business sectors including health care, manufacturing, education, agriculture, government, mining, transportation, tourism, and professional services. Deri helps individuals and organizations optimize their performance by managing their energy; applying the latest research and practice in positive psychology, appreciative inquiry, emotional intelligence, neuroleadership, and employee engagement. www.derilatimer.com