Want to Flourish and Thrive in Tough Times?
While it may still be challenging to seek significant increases in financial capital, it’s a great time to build up your psychological capital. The field of Positive Psychology, which explores how individuals can flourish and organizations thrive, is contributing more and more data to the case for “Positivity.
As an “Authentic Happiness” Coach and member of the Positive Workplace International, I am seeing time and time again that, by focusing attention carefully on our strengths and capabilities and using an appreciative style of leadership, we can increase performance, productivity,passion and enjoyment.
Psychological capital, in the forms of hope, optimism, confidence and resilience, can be deliberately created and helps us deal with the tough times today – and tuck a little away for tomorrow.
While many are quick to dismiss “positive attitude” as too simplistic a solution for what ails us now, a positive attitude is a doorway to an “asset focused” way of thriving that appreciates in value over time, delivering with it good health, stronger immune systems, broadened thinking, quicker problem solving, more friends, and as some report now, more money
Using this time to build psychological capital will build your other resources as well.
- Social capital (from building better, stronger more positive relationships),
- Intellectual capital (from all those brilliant ideas that will be generated),
- Traditional capital (in the form of increased sales, happier customers, recognition, better jobs.)
We’ve been working “out there” for such a long time. Perhaps it’s time for “Time IN” according to Harvard’s Tal Ben Shaher. Tal’s course on happiness is the most popular at Harvard. He teaches thousands students every year that reflection and quiet time are critical to learning process and memory.
Individuals and whole companies might be using these tough times to reflect on what they do best, how they can enhance it, and what inspires them to high performance and how they can accomplish it in a healthy, happy way.
These are big questions that beg to be explored.
Here are seven things this customer happiness coach recommends to leap past coping and start flourishing:
1. Make Positivity a priority.
Start the day by being grateful and reflect on all the good things in your life. Intend, from the very beginning of the day, to see some good in everything. Intend to show up in a positive way for your staff and customers.
2. Recognize that happiness is a choice.
By now most of us know that the happiness that comes from the circumstances and stuff “out there” is not lasting. Happiness is an inside job. You’ve got to be in it to win it.
3. Create a set of rules for yourself that protects your “Positivity.”
Allow yourself to walk away from negative news and situations. Give yourself permission to say “No” when you really mean “no.” That protects your ability to say “Yes” to the things that really matter for your well-being.
4. Overcome the “negativity bias” left by evolution in our brains.
We’re hardwired for harder times – our brains store the memory of a negative event – like burning your hand on a hot stove – deeper and longer than the memory of that red velvet cupcake you enjoyed so much. Pay attention to how you respond to things and be able to discern if you are reacting from something hard wired in the past or desired in the future.
5. Be an overachiever with the “Positivity Ratio.”
Bless those scientists! We now know that it takes a positive to negative ratio of more than 3:1 in order to feel sustainably happy. We recommend more – 5:1 based on the research of Dr. John Gottman of happy, flourishing marriages. For every one expression of negativity there are five that are positive in nature. Burn that number in your brain 5:1. Become your own learning lab. Test it over several months in the field – personally and professionally – and see what happens when you notice (and appreciate) five times more good than bad.
6. Slow down.
Consider where the energy gains and the energy drains are in your life. Do your best to eliminate the drains, and where you can’t, add more “energy gaining” items, like a walk around the block or a quick yoga pose to offset it. One of the most stunning findings of the research into the effects of positive emotion is that it has an “un-doing” effect on stress. HUGE.
7. Know that what you focus on expands.
If you focus on
- worry you’ll get more worry,
- going broke, trust me, you will.
- getting your cube-mate’s cold because they sneezed , you surely will.
- how good you feel when you appreciate a friend’s best qualities, or when you are working on a project you love to do, you’ll get more of those feelings too.
Savor and enjoy a client that is spending money with your company, savor and enjoy the company of friends at a weekend pot luck party. Take time to comment on the good times and share your gratitude for it with others. Do it from the heart. The heart is electrically more powerful than any other organ in the body – including the brain. Spend more time in heart space.
Enjoy this time and use it well to grow, connect, learn and give back.
Optimists live 7 – 9 years longer than pessimists, so make your life extension program richer with Vitamin “P” – Positivity.