Everyday has it challenges and its successes – although it seems much easier to remember the challenges, and to gripe about them and to share them with all and sundry. To use them as though they full exonerate us for our own poor behaviour or choices….”I was really stressed”….”I’ve had a bad day”….”Work is really full on at the moment”….”The traffic was a nightmare”…”I had to wait in line forever”!
Sure, we do all have challenging days (you may prefer the use of ‘bad’ here, but to me ‘challenging’ is better; you can overcome a challenge!), work can be full on and we all get stressed but it’s what we choose to do with that that makes the difference. You heard me right! We can choose what to do with that. Every action we take, every behaviour we exhibit is a choice, one we make freely, but far too often – unconsciously.
You’ve had a stressful, long, just want to forget it, pass me the wine kind of day. You have several choices. You can take that home with you and create a stressful environment at home by letting out your frustrations and anger on your family. You can bottle it up in your ‘I’ll save that anger for later’ bottle that you can use as the catalyst for picking a huge fight with someone at some point. Or you can chose to let it go…see the good….see the positive in your day and leave those stresses where they belong (clue: not in your head, or spat in the faces of others).
Recently I heard an excerpt from an American college commencement (graduation) speech given by the late David Foster Wallace, in 2005. I know that seems like an eon ago but the themes he touches on about being present, appreciating and noticing the little things, and practicing gratitude are really at the core of ‘letting go’ (and no, I don’t mean the song from Frozen!) I encourage you to listen to it, it is ten minutes well spent – This Is Water….
For those of you who prefer to have a little list of go to actions for changing your frame of mind when you’re having a challenging day, here you go….
- Go outside, get some non-office air, do a lap around the block, take a look at nature or the world around you…..breathe it all in, mentally and physically, and then exhale and as you do – let go of all the negativity.
- Take a 5-minute meditation break. Turn away from your computer, put down that work and just be. Focus on your breathing and purposefully sit still, breathe and be.
- Take out some post-it sized note paper and start writing all the positive, good, nice, exciting things that have happened to you that day. One thing per piece of paper. Think big, but also think really small….”I am alive” (big), “I had clean underwear to put on this morning” (small)…and then put them into your “Things to be Grateful for (insert year) Jar”. (Note – this is a large jar that you place all of these kinds of notes into between January 1st and December 31st each year. On New Year’s Eve take them out and read all the wonderful things that happened to you over the last year!)
- Smile. Yep, just smile. Once you’ve got it happening on your face…look at someone else nearby and share the smile with them. Smiles are super infectious. Soon the person you are sharing with will be smiling too and they will smile at someone else. This is a very low key way to start a revolution in the office. A Smile Revolution! A Happiness War!
- Commit a Random Act of Kindness. There is nothing better for chasing away negative emotions and stress then making someone else’s day. These are great on the way out of the office, or on the way home so that you arrive home in a really positive frame of mind!
Ok people, you are ready to graduate! Go forth into this world and be happy!