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On-Demand | Finding Positivity When There Seems to be None

Mar 19, 2021

Our speaker discusses how positivity is a powerful tool to find hope and increase our resilience.




Natalie McVeigh:Hi everyone, we're going to talk about positivity/happiness today and why those words are interchangeable as positivity is really our emotional experience and it can be fleeting. It's really the left side of this, the pleasurable feeling, the hedonic method where I eat some candy, or I drink a nice treat or I do something that in the moment makes me feel good. Positivity alone isn't enough to build, sustain good feelings. And so when I talk about positivity, I'm going to talk more about happiness. And happiness is the two combined, it's that thing that feels good in the moment, but it's also usually something worth doing like goal attainment or there's meaning attached to it.

When you achieve a goal that's really meaningful like if you've got the undergrad that you wanted, you felt good for a longer sustained period of time. So what we're thinking about today is yes, we want those positive hits to make us feel good in the moment, and we want to marry them with that lasting feeling of this is something that's working for me, wholly, it's who I want to be, where I want to go. So the benefits of happiness are we're not flitting through the past or the future.

We spend about30% of our lives thinking about the past and 30% thinking about the future. Now there are some people who have a future focused or past focused, but they're only 10% of the population. Most of us are really trying to spend time in the present. And what the present allows us to do is evaluate where we are today and how we can achieve the other goals along with what we've accomplished in the past versus constantly looking towards the past, wishing we were there, or hoping we could get somewhere else.

Spending time in either extreme really stops us from being able to deal with the moment that we're in the way that it's coming towards us and the benefits that happen. I mostly remember, you remember during teenager, and you couldn't wait to be an adult and now we're all adults and we're like, "Gosh, we really wasted some of that time." And that's just a part of growing up. But many of us do that now. If I could just have the right car, if I could just meet the right person, we're constantly putting our lives on hold and so happiness allows us embracing what's going on right now right away, and make real moment changes based on that, not that are fictitious, not that don't exist yet.

So that's one of the reasons why happiness is important. To us, it's one of the reasons why it is one of the most useful things for us. So we're going to talk about the benefits of happiness. One is we're more resilient, we have a stronger immune system, we're physically healthier, we live longer and we look better and we also were able to connect with people more. So if you're saying I don't really care if my employees are happy. Well, the reason you want to care is because they're going to be more connected, more supporting of one another, more supporting of the organizational goals and they're going to spend more time in flow.

And I want to talk a minute about flow because people really love to mention flow, but they don't understand what flow is. Flow is really where you have the right amount of skills to accomplish the goal. So usually, it's a high goal, medium skill where there's a challenge equals flow. If we have too many skills, too low of a challenge, we get to boredom and well, we're just bored. If we have too high of a challenge, too low of a skills, that's where anxiety and depression live in our work life. And so if you really want to be in flow, you want to think, "Do I have the skills that are allowing me to find this challenge?"

Now, the other misnomer about flow is we think flow is the state that we're in where we're in a trance, and we're getting all the benefits in the world. That's not true either. The benefits of flow are after where you've been lost in a book for two hours, or you're lost in the project and you don't even know that you were there doing so much. After that state, you actually experienced the benefits of flow. So the benefits of flow take a little time to get there, but it really has to do with the challenge you're faced with and the skills that you have.

So if you're saying, "I haven't been in flow lately." You either need to ask for support for your skill level to increase or you really want to ask that your challenge level increases because you might just be really bored with what's going on. And if we could spend flow time 15 to 20% more for each of us, that would increase an organization's productivity by 100%. So happiness literally pays dividends, it also pays dividends personally. Happiness is not a zero sum game, I get some and you don't get any, and therefore I win. Happiness is a plus sum game.

In fact, the more there is, the more effective everyone around each other becomes. So here's some of the other benefits, it increases your learning, it increases your memory because it changes the gray matter in your brain. When we're more compassionate, more able to hear what people say, what they think, because I'm in a place where I can hear it. If I'm not happy, I have little room for you and what's going on in your experience. I'm also introspective enough, again, it's really hard to take a hard look at myself if I don't feel good. That's just too much work. It's too much effort and in our introspection process, we become more self-aware.

So here's the numbers, nuts and bolts of why do we care about each other being happy outside of our own personal fulfillment? Now, the question is how can we increase our happiness, and this is a longer conversation because it's a little more complex, but let me lay out the groundwork. 50% of our happiness is genetically encoded in us. That's that epigenetic piece where I've talked about this before half our genes were born with, half change throughout our lifetime, so half of our happiness comes with us. So you might have a family that tends to be more negative, or you might be prone to bouts of sadness, that could just be genetic. 10% of our happiness is the circumstance that we're living in right now, that red piece on this pie.

So we're all living through COVID, many of us are working from home, some of us are returning to work. Some of us have kids at school, some don't. So that 10% is a circumstance today, our external environment that we can't control. So 60% of our happiness is handed to us on a plate, and we either like that dish, or we don't. But the 40% of our happiness we control. 40% is a lot, that's almost half of this happiness equation that we on a daily basis get to impact. In fact, we impact it monthly, not monthly, moment least, every second, every choice we make is leading to our happiness.

And the easiest way to think about happiness with that 40% left is the equation underneath where we talk about our satisfaction with life, plus our positive emotions minus our negative emotions. Positive and negative emotions can and do happen concurrently. So I'm making this up, this won't happen to any of you because you're all happy where you are, but pretend you get your dream job, and you have to move across the country. So you're really happy, you've got your dream job, you're really sad, you have to leave your community. And if you look at that equation we showed earlier, if it goes to your well-being your eudaimonic values, that's going to tip those positive emotions up.

If it just goes to your hedonic values which is I make more money, that's going to tip those negative emotions to the higher balance. So we're constantly trying to figure out how to weigh these experiences. So the model for positivity, we've talked about the SPIRE model before so I won't explain all those elements, you can read them. But I do want to add a little bit to the SPIRE model which is these 10 paths. And these paths for the SPIRE model are really important. There's the purposeful path, that's that meaning, really getting in touch with the meaning that you are putting towards the actions that we're doing.

Sometimes we get so log jammed in the day to day of what we're doing that we don't add meaning to it, we don't think about how it can impact us. The other is mindfulness. That path of mindfulness allows us to get in touch with the meaning, to get in touch with those things that are bigger than us. And at the end of this slide, I'll show some research on what our brains actually do when we practice mindfulness for as little as 20 minutes a day. I've showed you all a slide of the ways that you can picture is when we're able to manage our thoughts in our processes, not control them because they're uncontrollable, we're able to find out what's more meaningful to us and where we feel most connected, and then their physical well-being. Absolutely you want to exercise, you also want to recover.

Many of us vacillate to one of those extremes or the other. Many of us want to exercise, it's the most effective way for us to feel good and we may over exercise. You can binge on exercise and believe it or not, and others of us really want to recover, we just want to sit on the couch and eat potato chips. Neither is right or wrong, it's finding that balance and that's really where we get the physical well-being. And then the intellectual well being, believe it or not, you want to fail. If we don't fail, we don't assertively understand what we're doing well because we don't have any experience of the opposite and failure is our greatest teacher.

I think it was Oscar Wilde who said, no, it was Carl Jung who said, "Experience is the name that we call our mistakes." So that's going to be really useful. Also, journaling and reading. Reading and deep reading, spending time to understand and reflect on things is very, very useful for the acquisition of knowledge. But journaling is the most effective way for our brains to synthesize the information. So for information to stick, for it to be useful, for not to go out one ear, or in one ear and out the other, we want to use those tools. And then relational well-being, that is having real relationships, and we've talked about the three different types.

You have your acquaintances which are your large net, you have those medium connections which many are at our workplace. And then you have those deep, intimate connections of really close friends and associates, as well as your intimate partnerships. Finding ways for those relationships to be reciprocal. And we'll talk about some of what that looks like today and giving. In fact, giving creates more happiness than receiving and also love. If we give love, that's a higher dictator positive emotions and happiness than if we are the recipient of love.

Now, many of us give love hoping that we receive it as well. It isn't actually important that we receive it, although when you give love, nine times out of 10, you get it back. But the act of giving love, giving time, giving money helps us create a generosity spiral that we'll talk about a little later as well. And then emotional well-being. Emotional well-being is twofold. One is accepting, we're perfectly imperfect. There are times in which we cannot conquer all and every time I put myself on the rack about conquering things or making it work is the less that I actually get to experience my happiness. I'm setting myself up to be my own harshest critic and the other is gratitude because there are those moments when we cannot do everything, there are lots of those moments.

And so when I can be grateful for the strengths that I have, the things that I can do that I have accomplished, I'm much more able to recover, and deal with those disappointments as they arise. I would be lying to you to say that you will not have disappointments in life, you will not have failures, you will not have challenges. Resilience is about encountering those aspects, and coming out stronger on the other end. And part of that is really giving yourself the humility, and the ability to say that I'm just like anyone else, I struggle and I reached challenges, both positive emotions, an environment and positive behaviors to make a change.

And the truth is that that's not the case. We either need a positive environment or positive behaviors. And so whichever one of those is easier to leverage which is why we'll talk about the gratitude or the giving is if my environment is really challenging today, if my kids are being very loud, and I'm trying to do work, I can just get work done or I can just sit with my child who's having a challenge in that moment. Give them my attention and their time and then I create that room for positivity. I can't change everything else about it, but I give myself that positive behavior that follow through that is really effective and really helpful.

So how do we increase our positivity? We're going to talk about how we increase our positivity first. The first one is the power of the placebo. So believe it or not, lots of studies of research that placebos are very, very effective. The challenge about a placebo is you have to believe it to be true. So they did a study with Parkinson's where they came up with a new treatment where they drilled in people's brains with Parkinson and they injected them with a type of chemical that I can't remember the name of and they started seeing good results from that placebo, not that placebo, that was the actual control group.

Well, they were heartily encouraged, they thought they'd gotten to the root of Parkinson's. They haven't yet, they're going to get there soon. They noticed in the same group though that they drilled in their heads and put nothing in that the same amount was working. Here's the challenge of the placebo is a doctor has to give you the placebo for you to believe it's going to do good things for you. They did a very similar research study that when a doctor said that cleaning is the same as exercise that the group who was told that started losing weight whereas the other group wasn't told that who was still cleaning didn't lose weight.

So for the placebo to work is you have to decide which one of the things after this that I will give you all the research for is your prescription. And I'm your doctor today, I have prescribed you this treatment, and you believe it'll work. That's going to make all of this work at a higher number and they've studied this, then the research even says that I say this as a 70% success rate, and you believe I'm the doctor prescribing it for you, that's going to get you to an 80 or a 90% success rate with the piece that you choose.

So I'm writing your script, but you get to choose which one of these things to use. The other thing about increasing positivity is it's not a solo activity. It really is in communion with others. So much so that even if I touched your shoulder for one second, I would reduce your anxiety and increase your self-esteem. Now, most of us aren't supposed to be touching each other because of COVID so we're not touching each other. But you can get very similar benefits. I'm going to bring my friend over here to show you.

This is Samson. Samson is my teddy bear and I've had Samson when I was 16. When I turned 16, I had to spend about half a year in the hospital. And all of you were like, "I knew she was weird and I didn't know why, she spent half a year alone, totally explains it." Yes, I spent a lot of that year reading. It's also where I got my COVID shot real quick. I was on intravenous blood thinners, a very, very high dose. So I was at a higher risk of bleeding out and because of that risk, I couldn't be touched either.

So my parents went and got me Samson and I got to hug Samson. In fact, some of my clients have met Samson on some of those longer business trips I've taken, I bring him with me. Well, the research says even though one second of touching your shoulder can make you less anxious, increase your self-esteem, fend off depression, 20-second hugs are way better, you can get about 70% of the benefit from a teddy or something like it. So for those of you who live alone who are practicing physical distancing, and you don't have a teddy, go get a teddy bear, and spend some time with that Teddy Bear because that's going to be really useful.

The other thing is to try to immerse yourself in what's happening in conversation with people even if it's conflict. The thing about pets and about people is they ask something from us. So those of you who feel like you're at your emotional limit, and inanimate object can be really helpful. Once you get a pet, especially to get a puppy or a kitten and you have to train it, there's another level of effort and work. Don't get me wrong. I love you Kiko, she's my favorite thing ever and she's been wonderful. I just think pets are lifestyle choices.

So if you can't get a pat, get a teddy or don't get a teddy, it's up to you. So even in conflict, there are two responses and the same response is true for our work and our positive environment with people. We can either distance, and many of us physically distance or we can emotionally distance. We can only control our part of the happiness equation and one of the pieces you can ask is how true is this feedback and what do I need from the other people? This is not the only profession that feels like feedback is always ways to improve. In fact, there's a complete type of management style that actually believes the only time I should talk to you is to help you grow and the idea is to help you grow.

Think about that that's what the people who are giving you that feedback is, but you can also assertively ask for what you need. You can decide to say thank you for that feedback. I hear that it might have been useful to you or productive. What I'd love to hear is what did work for this? What part of this did work? And that might be something you need to hear for yourself or if it can't happen in your work environment, we can only control our part of the equation, you can decide to get that constructive feedback elsewhere.

Again, there are these three areas of our life and if we tap into any one of those, we're going to be able to bring that positivity in there. So I get some feedback and it's not great feedback. Samson can't talk so he's off the list, but I can call my really good friend, I can call another coach friend, I can call someone to say, "Hey, I heard this tough feedback, was really challenging for me, can you help me think of a way that this might be meaningful?" We're going to get to a spot about how we talk to ourselves, there's a way you can also talk to yourself and spoiler alert, although we'll get to more of it is if you talk to yourself using your name, you get much more rational and able to deal with difficulties.

So instead of saying, "Oh, I suck at presenting." I could, "Natalie, you were not a very good presenter today." And it allows me to distance myself from that feedback in my mind. What I'm hoping though is the slide we were just on where we talked about the immersion versus the distance, or if you can immerse yourself in those difficult conversations. And I know it's difficult where you can say, "We want to either immerse or distance." And poor feedback makes us distance. But if you can pull yourself towards immersion, towards asking for what you assertively want, when we're not on our best behavior, we can either perpetuate more bad behavior or someone can actually raise our awareness and say to us, "Hey, that didn't work. What can we do to make this work better?"

And you would not believe how many times people don't understand their impact on you until you tell them. I don't know many people that go around, unless they're real sociopaths or psychopaths. And there are very few of those despite all the crime shows that you watch, there are very few of those in the real world who actually enjoy making people miserable. So they might just not understand their impact on you. One of the other ways to really reach happiness is be very clear on idealism. A lot of people have idealism, a lot of people want to see a different world than we live in and I'm going to caution you for living in La La Land because La La Land will create you to be a dreamer, it'll create you to set unrealistic expectations, it'll create you to often not get a lot done.

Also, just working to work, you've all heard about people grinding their way through things, dealing in the grind, either one of these extremes of just idealism, and of just work lead us to not feel truly nourished, to not feel that eudaimonic happiness. Hedonic happiness is on that dreamer side of the equation and that guy, that one that likes pleasure, he's never satisfied. There's never enough pleasure to make that person stay happy for very long because it's a really short shot.

So you really want to match your fulfillment to your, that means thinking of this as a calling. When we think of work as a job, people burn out really, really quickly. When we think of it as a career, a stepping stone to something better, there's a little bit longer of a time, but it's still exhausting. When I think of my work as a calling, that I get to help people, or that I'm making a difference because of all the clients I can impact and an organization that is impacting so many clients. You see less burnout, you see less challenge, you see more creativity, you see more resilience, you are able to move forward.

So I don't know how you can graft your role, but the simplest way is finding an overlap of performance and passion. What am I good at? What do I care about? And then how do I articulate it? How does it come out of my mouth as something that means something very, very useful and larger than myself, that calling is really, that it's more than just Natalie and it's more than just my salary? Those things are career and job-related. Those things are temporal, they're temporary and they're not meaningful. So I'd spend some time and you might already say, "Hey, I know this is my calling. I've been doing it forever."

So there are ways to reinvigorate your calling. If you think it's already a calling and you're still feeling some of that fatigue and burnout is what ways can I make this more innovative or more effective? Which usually means faster and easier, or share that knowledge? That's going to broaden that career in calling perspective, that's going to allow you to spend more time in flow to move forward and to feel energized doing the things that you're already doing and that you already love. We are emotional contagions. We also have something called associatism in our brains. Our brains think about the things that are like the other things and I know I said this thing a bunch. But give me a second.

Cats. How many cats did you think about? Did you think about your own cat? Did you think about this really fat cat you saw once? Do you think about Grumpy Cat? It's just going on in your brain. Our brain makes connections because it's meant to do that for us. So negativity does breed negativity. If you tell me about a time that you had to work late, and your boss told you to work late and asked you to work late even though you told them I really have something important to do. And I'm like, "Yeah, my boss did that too. In fact, my boss did that 15 times."

We jump on this train of negativity together because our brain is creating Association. So one, it's this ratio we're on. But the second thing I would like you to do is try to find a way to contain that frustration because I don't want you to be happy all the time, that doesn't work either. Because if you're frustrated or you're unhappy, you're frustrating or unhappy, but how do you make this one discrete present experience? So I was asked to work late yesterday, but I needed to pick up my kid. Gosh, that was frustrating and then your neighbor can say, "Yeah, that sounds really frustrating. Did you get someone to pick up your kid?" "Oh yeah, I did. You know what? My sister picked up my kid." "That was actually great of her." Okay.

So what can we do the next time there's a situation about being late? Can we explain to our boss how challenging it is to work late and that it might be easier for us to get up early the next morning? So it's not saying, "Do not feel frustrated." It's fine to feel frustrated, it's fine to feel upset. The question is are you bandwagoning it? Are you being emotional contagion that's making everyone feel worse because venting just to vent doesn't work. It works when you're able to be clear that it's venting and to figure out an end point for it.

 If we're venting to vent, we can all think of 100 different times that our boss asked us to work late and it didn't work out for us. We pile on thinking it'll make us feel better, but what it doesn't get to is genuine resolve which is why we talked about that path of journaling. I will come back to that, again, you write your negative experiences. They've shown the brain science on this, we're able to have a critical distance when we write it, we're also able to synthesize that information. In fact, as you write this thing about your boss, you might already start talking about how you can assert your boundaries to them next time.

The other thing I love about writing is I like to crinkle it up and I have a wood burning stove, so I throw it in the fire because then I just get some satisfaction for doing something slightly disruptive with my upset energy and then I feel like it's gone. Because that's what upset energy wants us to do is be disruptive. So I hope that's helpful. I'm not asking you to be happy go lucky all the time. I'm not asking you to deny your experience and we'll talk about why toxic positivity is also a problem, but I do think you need to insulate yourselves, because we are emotional contagions and there's proof that says part of happiness is actually connected to our networks, virtual social networks, and our in-person social networks or over the phone now because many of us are not seeing our family or friends. But they exist.

We create social connections that can either create positive environments or negative environments. And right now, the world is just a different world. It is a world in which there is a lot of negativity out there. This is a very challenging time for people and where do you draw the line to say, "I can't right now with this part of this thing." It's okay to say what doesn't work for you. You can also tell your coworker even if you've tried to help them and say, "Oh, did your kid get picked up?" And they're like, "Yeah, but now my sister is mad." They could keep going on and on about it. And you could say, "That sounds really hard. I have a big project, I'm going to get back to that. You can physically, or not physically, because it's probably virtually but physically remove yourself from that contagion.

That may be the only way to insulate yourself. But believe it or not, this neuroscience we're talking about throughout this whole thing, that's the underpinning of all this research. We catch each other in our emotional responses. The problem is it's easier to catch in anxiety and anger than it is to catch in some of these other emotions, but the moment you have a different reaction, although it will feel hard to have that different reaction, to not jump in, you will see that that person's behavior will change. So this ratio is also helpful.

The research says you need about three good interactions, three positive reactions to every one negative reaction is usually about what most people need, so that they feel that it's okay because our brain remembers negative emotions more than it does positive. Now, if you're talking about relationship, and everything is relationship, and you are the center of your relationship. In relationship, you need five positive interactions for every negative interaction. So this is one of the other things to think about of how we're interacting on our teams, how we're interacting with our work is how do I be a person who's giving you five positive interactions to every negative interactions.

If you were a manager, Senior Manager, director or even anyone who anyone reports to, I don't care, your title. If you are only talking to your employees, when you have something negative to say, you were blowing this ratio, it's gonzo. And yes, many of everyone's are writing team emails or large unit emails, office emails, great, but I mean talking to those employees and partners of yours. If you were only talking to them about where they went wrong, what they can do better, you were missing this ratio. And the same is true for you and me. If every time I call you and the first thing I say is, "I just need to vent." And I haven't called you ever in a way that didn't start with, I just need to vent, you were blowing this ratio.

So the question becomes, "How can I be cognizant of this?" Now I get it, you can start with three. But if you really want positive relationships, try to get five. What can I bring to bring up this positivity equation? Because we're going to talk about why giving that makes it feel great for you. Believe it or not, painful experience is absolutely a huge part of feeling positive. We have to be able to truly experience our sadness, to truly experience our anger. Now, that doesn't mean we need to be careless with it, we need to throw it around and hurt other people with it, it means that we have to say it's okay to experience it which is the piece that I said about the toxic positivity.

If I do not let it be okay for you to experience those extreme emotions on one side of the equation, I cannot experience them on the other side of the equation. There's not two highways in my body. One is pleasurable and one is painful, it's just one Interstate and it's going one way. Now, they can happen at the same time. Sure. But if all I ever experience is positivity, I've never been angry, I've never been sad, that's not true and that positivity is also probably not genuine. We love social media because it gives us a dopamine hit every time we get a Like button. So much so that even Instagram and Facebook for a while although they never did it suggested not letting you know the number of people that are getting you your full likes.

They talked about that almost a year ago because they realized we're addicted to this affirmation, we all want to feel good. The problem is that's the hedonic pleasure. So the hedonic pleasure lasts for five seconds. So I need another like, I need another like, I need another text message. We will talk about social media and our phones in just a moment. The other thing I want to talk about besides of the ratio is our duration and focus. It matters the intensity of either the pleasurable experience someone else gives you or the painful experience someone else gives you. Again, managers or employees who are just calling to vent or complaining or just telling you how bad you are. How bad is that feedback? How mean were you and for how long? Or how nice were you and for how long? And then how it ends.

Our memories aren't perfect. So we focus on beginnings at the moment, but we really clasp on to ending. So if you and I have a really great gregarious chat and we're just going at it and we're having so much fun and then I end the conversation with, "And this is what you did terrible." Click. I'm going to remember that last conversation we had. Just that last part, the whole thing before it, gone. I don't even recall it anymore. So we want to understand the intensity of the length of time, the intensity of the or the positive or negative and how we end it. And also for us on the receiving end, my own experience, how do I savor those wonderful moments?

Maybe you said something incredibly lovely to me? Did you write it? Can I read it again? Can I come back to that thing you said that was so great? So that the next time you have to say something hard to make. So I'm not saying do not give feedback. Absolutely give feedback, but for those of us who want to keep our positivity, how do we savor the part about it that is great? And that's really important with happiness. Grief is not linear. Grief has about seven stages, but they're not. There's not a time where we're truly done grieving. I'm just going to be real honest with you about that.

The question is what's the depth of the grief and what's going on with that person, and how they can move through it. Loss is very different for people and sadness is not depression. Depression has a chemical component, but the depression also lacks hope and that's going to be something to consider. We can frame things as either personal, permanent, and pervasive. So it's either about me, always about me and will never change or it can be situational, temporary, and specific. And I wrote an example here of Happy Holly and Grumpy Gina and nobody's either one of these all the time, it just depends on life.

But the more you can make it situational, temporary and specific, the better that will be for you. Now, that's not to say because you might read that one side, and you might be like, "This is going to be excuse center." I'm not saying you give excuses, but we have permission to be human. And so how do I say I made a mistake this one time? I have to know that about myself. So I just have to tell people, "This is who I am." Now, someone could say I could do better planning, maybe. But I work in a job that has to do with crisis.

It might just be how I get things done. Now, I never missed deadlines, that is true. But how do you embrace that side without making it about excuses? But allowing yourself to recover, to become better in these things. Now, here's really about the connection we talked about. This is really the place in which we can show up gratitude, being thankful, being grateful about something specific, gratitude is only helpful if it's specific. When you actually say thank you for X, thank you for reminding me about this deadline. Thank you so much for calling after I missed the meeting we had because I told you something was going on with my kids. And then helping.

Helping is a double-edged sword. We love people we help. But we don't all like to be helped. So there's something called invisible support that the way that I can assist you make you look fabulous and amazing, but it's not really about me, and you don't even know that I'm doing it to some respects. Invisible support is the most amazing support. It's the support that's really underneath something where you might have heard someone saying, "Hey, I'm really struggling with this thing about this client." You just shoot them an article that says thinking of you. You don't have to say, "Oh, I thought this would help you." But very subtle, kind support measures that move people forward. And then the last part here is appreciative inquiry.

You can use that on yourself, you can use that with others and it's what about this can I be thankful for that's really moving, that is meaningful, but not in a gratitude way, appreciation is more off, like what about this do I have wonder about do I need support in? And so we have here another chart. Again, I won't read it, but I can talk to why this is important. We use reactive language where I must do this. What reactive language does to us psychologically, physiologically is it feels like I have been doing this thumb thing all day and that thumb thing might not mean something to you, but I think it's like being under someone's thumb.

Reactive language puts me under your thumb too. The problem is that you is not someone I know. It's just somebody. And so there's somebody else that outside controlling the world. This proactive side, the way we language it sends a message to our body that we're making a choice, that I have ownership. I have a sense of control and anxiety is often a response to not being able to control things. So print this chart out if you need to. It'll feel weird when you start using some of this language until it feels natural, but that oddness of it coming out of your mouth the first time will more than likely be overcome with the way that your body feels better while using it.

So take some time being proactive versus reactive. Another way to think of being proactive versus reactive is those first few moments of our day are really important to us and we often waste them, letting other people control them. "Oh, my spouse didn't get me my coffee like they always do and I had to make coffee." And when we used to commute, "Oh, that guy cut me off." Or and we're going to talk about in one second, but I'll talk about it now. If you watch three minutes of bad news in the morning which most of the news is bad, it's how they make their money, it increases your day, three times likely to have a bad day, but six to eight hours later.

So even if we had all this great things happen to us at work, or colleagues were the best they've ever been. I helped the client, I was so amazing. And yet three o'clock rolls around and I'm grumpy and I don't know why. It's because I wasted these precious moments at the beginning of my day that allowed me to be reactive, to be responsive to things that are happening. And everybody else just controlled my day. So best ways to increase positivity, limit negative information, you've got it, create boundaries, yes. Mind to the ratio, you guys are all brilliant, everyone won.

So that we are constantly bombarded, we are overly reliant on our phone and like I said, it gives us dopamine, but we get literally addicted to the dopamine being good. And sometimes it is, sometimes you just put the cutest photo up and someone likes it. But a lot of those pings on our phone or emails that maybe aren't good are news, lists, all kinds of things that just bum you out. So being really careful about what you let your phone do for you because right now it's a bit of a bait and switch. Normally, it's all good and now it's not. And we're letting it control our life. And our phones are also our network, our virtual network where we allow it to create an emotional contagion that isn't very positive in many ways.

The other thing social media in our phone do is they don't allow us to see anyone. When you can't actually see someone, we behave differently towards them. This Gen Z and many people who spend a lot of time on social media have 30% less empathy than other people. It's also why we get so nasty to each other on social media because you're not a real person when you're on social media. So this can increase the negativity and trying to resolve these negative pieces of ourselves or to put them down is going to be good. So if you say, "I cannot not start the day without watching the news." And I know I double negative there.

Then get some good news. Find a site that you know will send you good news. In fact, that's what I do. I have to tweet from my job. I tweet the positive stories about family businesses, not the family feuds and that's the first thing I do in the morning is I send that out. If you spend three minutes of good news at the beginning of the day, you increase your chance of having a good day 88% and if you have to cut the people who are raining on your parade out, you don't have to tell them, "I'm cutting you out, you suck." Please don't. That's mean. But you can limit your time and exposure with them.

The chatter thing is we've got this little maniac in our head who's really good for us actually. We start talking to ourselves to understand how to talk, to give ourselves values, moral lessons. But he likes to get in our way. And only our way and I'll give you an example. Solomon is known as the most wise king. He famously knew how to know who the mother was of asking to cut the baby in half. We all know that. He's considered one of the wisest people in the world.

What he didn't do right was his own personal life. He married tons and tons of ladies all at once because you could back then and they all had different religions and he built them temples and he spent so much of his time and his money doing crazy things. So our inside head likes to make us less smart than we actually are. And so some things to do is you can zoom out, you can step away, look at the bigger picture. You can depersonalize it by saying, "You need to do X when you're talking yourself or you can do what I said Natalie, do blah-blah-blah-blah-blah." You can imagine that you're advising a friend, a friend who's named, a friend you actually love and you can challenge and reframe that voice in your head.

The other piece is to emotionally time travel. If you emotionally time travel into the future and when you have done this thing well, if you made a huge mistake, I've made a bunch of mistakes today, but I can emotionally travel in the future to where I've done something well, I actually become kinder to my spouse, to the people around me. So letting our head run wild is one of the things we inadvertently do to get in the way. Multitasking is another one. We absolutely cannot multitask at all. It's been proven. Multitasking includes keeping your email open.

It includes having your phone near you. In fact, just having our phone near us decreases our cognitive function going forward. These things that are meant to give us easy access to other people are also meant to get us to multitask and multitasking doesn't work. So finding ways to single focus. Do I know if people with ADHD have more than 400, 4,000 words per minute in their head? I do know that. Yes, there are more and 4,000 words is the average person. It is like having 10 State of the Union addresses happening at once. That's how insane he is. The other is goals.

We often create goals to avoid certain things. I don't want to make less money, I don't want to go back to work. I don't want to do this and that, the other. Our avoidance schools give us no benefit. They shortchange us. So finding our goals that are approaching something else, what I want is a community that I love that is flexible. That's the thing that I want. If we're framing our goals in approaching something, we're going to have goals that are more meaningful to us with our goals for avoidance, they don't help us at all. I achieved that goal, but all I did was avert disaster and we mentioned this already, the perils of toxic positivity.

I'm not going to read this, you guys can, but you cannot require people to be positive, it doesn't work. And so that's going to be the most effective. We are all stressed and angry right now, it's just been proven, we're going through a global trauma. And it's very easy to get angry at the people who were there to be the targets of the anger. So what I would challenge you to do is remind yourself of the importance of those relationships. I would challenge you to just take those 15 minutes that I talked about where you can reset, where you can either do a positive action or feel positive and do that as you clear the end of your day or the moments in which you're going to talk.

I know what it looks like when I'm going to be short with someone, it actually feels like something in my body. It feels like something in my body because and I'm just going to go through these slides so you guys can understand what meditation does for people I think you all know. It feels like something in my body because I do a somatic practice which allows me to feel it. When I'm irritated, my little cheeks get hot and when I'm really irritated, my little ears get hot and it took me years to find that out. But so when I can understand where my frustration is, I'm better able to reset.

So the shortest answer is to remember that you care about your loved ones, you will still snap at them, you will still be irritable. We all are. How do you recover? How do you create that same ratio from them if you can't prepare that day? And I don't think they have it anymore, but they used to have these chat bots that used to be able to a message the robots that talk to you. I know there are other chat things that exists. In fact, most insurance companies probably have a chat bot.

If you're really pissed off, type to a chat bot about how terrible they are or your day is if you need to really get it out. But the biggest thing with families is if you can recover quickly from the challenging moments that have existed with them is going to be the best if you can't set yourself up for success with them beforehand. 

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Natalie M. McVeigh

Natalie McVeigh is a Managing Director in the Center for Individual and Organizational Performance and the Center for Family Business Excellence Group within the Private Client Services Group and has more than 10 years of experience as a consultant and coach.

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