As we get ready to celebrate the holidays, I encourage you to make an extra effort this year to spread more positivity in your workplace.
Some of the people you work with may be experiencing seasonal sadness. The memory of a loved one lost can be more painful during November and December. Visiting a family member or friend in the hospital or just knowing someone they care about is suffering from a mental or physical illness can make it hard for them to put 'happy' in front of their holiday wishes.
Even watching one of those commercials with the perfect family dancing around a new car with a red bow can create a downward spiral of negative emotions in some people who don't have a family or budget to create that experience.
Recently I attended a workshop by Barbara Fredrickson, author of "Positivity" and "Love 2.0" at the Center for Values-Driven Leadership. Barbara is a distinguished professor at the University of North Carolina and one of the leading experts in the field of Positive Psychology. You can take a free Positivity Assessment on her site at https://www.positivityratio.com.
During her presentation, she shared research on why human beings, in order to flourish, need to get daily nutrients, not only from food, but also from experiencing micro moments of positivity.
Helping others experience more positive emotions is essential for improving their well-being. It's also important for the health and happiness of your family. Even though spreading positivity takes place in seconds, those momentary experiences accumulate and compound over time to build strong relationships and the resilience required for someone to bounce back when life knocks them down.
Here are the 10 most common positive emotions:
JOY - The emotion evoked by well-being, success or good fortune. Feeling safe and happy.
GRATITUDE - The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
SERENITY - The state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled. Your mind isn't flooded with worries, and you're able to relax in the present moment.
INTEREST - The feeling of wanting to know or learn about someone. Being curious or engaged in something. Being open to new experiences.
HOPE - A feeling of expectation or belief that something good will happen. Knowing our current problems aren't permanent and we will be able to do something about our situation.
PRIDE - A feeling or deep pleasure of satisfaction derived from one's own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities that are widely admired.
AMUSEMENT - Something that causes laughter or provides entertainment and connections with others.
INSPIRATION - The process of being mentally stimulated or influenced to do or feel something. A sudden brilliant or timely idea.
AWE - An overwhelming feeling of reverence and admiration produced by something powerful like the Grand Canyon, a beautiful sunrise, or experiencing someone who has developed an amazing talent.
LOVE - An intense, positive feeling of affection and connection toward another person.
Now you may be thinking, "How can you find the time to help others experience more positive emotions when you may be stressed out trying to achieve important goals before December 31st, meet family obligations, and take care of your own health and happiness this time of year?" The answer is surprisingly simple. According to Barbara's research, just noticing the people in your office and giving them a sincere smile is a great way to spread positivity.
Real smiles generate positive energy and hope. People also report feeling valued and appreciated when someone slows down long enough to make eye contact, share an authentic smile, and make a positive connection. Those short micro moments will be remembered for a long time and you'll be creating of feeling of unity.
The act of smiling also sends positive signals to your brain that cause you to feel better, regardless of what's going on in your world. When you see someone else smile, you tend to make the same expression on your face. You start experiencing positive emotions immediately.
Years ago, I saw Ireland's international comedian, Hal Roach, perform. He ended every one of his shows during his career with this poem.
The Meaning of a Smile
"It costs nothing, but it creates much.
It enriches happiness in the home, fosters goodwill in a business,
and is the countersign of friends.
It is the rest to the weary, daylight to the discouraged, sunshine to the sad,
and nature's best antidote for trouble.
Yet it cannot be begged, bought, borrowed, or stolen, for it is
something that is no earthly good to anyone until it is given away.
And if in the course of the day, some of your friends may be too
tired to give you a smile, why don't you give them one of yours?
For nobody needs a smile so much as those who have none to give."
Remember, your smile can be the result of something good happening in your life. Something good happening in your life can also be the result of your smile.
Have a very Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving, and enjoy spreading some positivity in your world this holiday season.