Dr. Rita's Blog
It's raining right now as I sit down to write. I love summer rains. They make me want to curl up with my Grandma's quilt, get a good book and sit in front of the fire.
Rain washes everything clean whether it needs it or not. The sidewalk chalk drawings my daughter and her friends made on the pavement in front of my garage are gone now. The leaves on the trees and shrubs look greener somehow and the new plantings are a little lopsided from the weight of the rain drops on their leaves. The tilled soil darker than it was this morning.
There's the feeling of a fresh start.
As a leader, how do you get a fresh start? It's automatic when you take a new job, get a promotion, move to a new home, get married, graduate. There's usually some sense of excitement about new possibilities that comes with the new reality you created.
How do you get a fresh start when it's not automatic? When that project is taking too long to complete. When a direct report isn't performing at the level that is required. When your boss isn't in favor of one of your decisions. When you need to give tough feedback to a peer. When frustration or angst is setting in.
There's a fresh start you can reach for every day. (You don't have to wait for the rain) The fresh start I'm talking about is the one in your own mind.
It's easy to let frustration and angst build up. Sometimes it gets our attention right away, but most times it's a slow build that isn't obvious until it's already gotten a lot of momentum and is draining our positive energy.
First step to a fresh start? Let go! Our minds tend to pick up negativity and then proceed to ruminate or scare us into action with worst case scenarios looming.
Letting go is a step toward training your brain to be positive. Recent research on neuroplasticity-the ability of the brain to change even in adulthood-reveals that as you develop new habits, you rewire the brain.
Shawn Achor, author of Happiness Advantage, recommends doing one of these five activities every day because they correlate with positive change in the brain:
* Jot down three things you are grateful for.
* Write a positive message to someone in your social support network.
* Meditate at your desk for two minutes.
* Exercise for 10 minutes.
* Take two minutes to describe in a journal the most meaningful experience of the past 24 hours.
These activities don't take long and they pack a powerful positive punch. Research shows that when people work with a positive mind-set, performance on nearly every level-productivity, creativity, engagement-improves.
Right now, pick one of the activities and do it. Like the rain, you'll be washing away what's not needed --- those pesky, nagging thoughts that are not helping create positivity.
Have a great week!
P.S. Shawn Achor is doing fascinating research on happiness in organizations. Research summaries, training and his TED Talk can be found on his website: www.GoodThinkInc.com
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