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We underestimate our power in everyday situations. And just to demonstrate, here is a small experiment you can conduct in your office or home today.
1. The power to positively influence others
Before your next interaction, stop. Take about two minutes to improve your current state. You can simply tell yourself to be positive, or you can revel in one or two things you are grateful for. You can use breathing, or recall someone who embodies the positivity you desire. You could imagine stepping into your happy state. There are tons of ways you can do it.
Have fun with it. Feel it. Two minutes.
Now use that state to be more positive around your team or family. You can smile more, laugh, and put more energy into your words and step. Do something tolerant and kind. Break your usual pattern and be more positive for the next hour.
Watch their reactions. Watch them rise a little to your investment. Watch it catch on. Just bepositive and watch. This is a real thing. It’s called ‘emotional contagion’ and is a result of our instinctive social and emotional responses. Like a nice virus, you spread it around you with your actions. It works even better if you have authority within your group, as other people already look to you to set the tone.
But anyone can do it. Why not you?
Because even though we don’t have direct control over our thoughts and feelings, we really can influence them quite well when we choose to. Think of positivity as behaviour, a series of actions. Positivity as a wise choice.
2. The power to truly choose for yourself
I’m not taking about a Pollyanna-style denial of reality nor insensitivity to the feelings of others. I’m talking about taking responsibility for how you show up and be in your daily life. If you are reasonably healthy right now, you have a choice. Why wouldn’t you choose to be positive, to find the best, and to bring spirit to your little part of the world?
And you don’t have to ‘fake it ’til you make it’. That assumes that positivity can only be genuine if you are feeling it first. Yet you go to work when you don’t feel like it. You remain polite and professional when you don’t want to. You complete tasks that you would prefer to leave. Why? Genuine commitment to what you value.
Positivity is an orientation or approach to life, and as such can be done genuinely because you value it, not because you feel it.
Good feelings often follow positive action. But even if the good feelings don’t come, ‘positivity as action’ is still way more constructive than being ruled by fleeting, unreliable and unhelpful negative feelings.
The secret is to take your attention off ‘autopilot’ occasionally to intentionally create this positive state. Some days it will be easier than others, but it’s a powerful reminder that the one thing in life we can control is our actions. Set up your own reminders to go off autopilot, such as when you walk into a particular room, or do a particular task. It gets easier with practice. In those powerful moments you have true freedom to choose what kind of influence you have among your people.
Because you always influence the people around you, whether you do it intentionally or not.
About the Author
I’m Toni Knight and I am in the Being More Human team. I help people to manage stress andanxiety individually, and I help quality organisations to implement mental health programs and mental health workshops for their people. I have developed Here4u, an innovative workplace peer support program, to build confidence in your ability to have empowering conversations with people in distress – colleagues, friends, or family members. Check it out at www.here4u.com.au . Please feel free to get in touch with me with your thoughts. I’m at*protected email*
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