If you increase the positive information that’s coming into your brain, you’ll experience a better quality of life. How do you do this? Incorporate the daily practice of purpose, power and intent – for yourself, for your colleagues and all those around you.
Have you ever found yourself obsessed with negative thoughts, and it adversely effects your whole day? And then that negativity gets in the way of work productivity, or interactions with colleagues, family and friends? Maybe after a tragic event occurs in the world, you just can’t stop reading or hearing about the details (thanks to the constant news cycle 24 hours a day), and then you become depressed, sad or withdrawn. Or perhaps you encounter a road rage incident on your way to work, and you replay the incident over and over again in your head, reliving every second of angst, fear or anger.
Such negative situations can really take a toll on the psyche. What we fill our minds with (what we watch, read, listen to or talk about) creates our focus, and in turn, our realities. So it would stand to reason that the opposite is true: if we fill our minds with positive information or stimuli, then this will create a positive result within us.
I always tell my clients that our expectations are our creations – we get in life what we think about. So we must build the life that we create, and we create our lives by the way we think.
Broaden and Build Theory
Even though I’ve long understood the connection between mind input and output, there’s an actual theory that describes it in more detail. In 1998, social psychologist and professor Barbara Fredrickson developed something called the Broaden and Build Theory, which is now associated with the field of positive psychology. According to her website, the theory says that positive emotions play an essential role in our survival. Positive emotions, like love, joy, and gratitude, promote new and creative actions, ideas, and social bonds. So when people experience positive emotions, their minds broaden and they open up to new possibilities and ideas. At the same time, positive emotions help people build their personal well-being resources, ranging from physical and intellectual, to social.
Conversely, the theory also suggests that negative emotions serve the opposite function of positive ones. When threatened with negative emotions like anxiety, fear, frustration, or anger, the mind constricts and focuses in on the imposing threat (real or imagined), thus limiting one’s ability to be open to new ideas and build resources and relationships. Fredrickson draws on the imagery of the water lily to beautifully illustrate her theory: “Just as water lilies retract when sunlight fades, so do our minds when positivity fades.”
What does it mean for you?
So what does all this mean to you and your colleagues or teams, when it comes to productivity, meeting goals and leading a positive life? If your mind is receiving positive input, you’ll experience positive output. I’ve been expressing this to my clients for years, only in a different way, and not so clinical: Junk in? Junk out.
In the workplace, for example, if you can help your colleagues experience more positive emotions while they’re at work, they will broaden their thoughts and awareness. These emotions include joy, contentment, interest, peace, gratitude, hope, pride, amusement, friendship, and inspiration. When people experience these emotions regularly, they’ll broaden their thoughts and awareness, which will help them flourish.
In other words, a healthy team is a happy team. If you can create a healthy workplace for your people, then it makes them want to work there, and you’ll see a better bottom line. If your workspace is depressing, you have to change it. You must take steps to redesign or redecorate it, with your worker’s comfort, health and productivity in mind. And you must promote team unity, through team building and fostering a cohesive and positive environment.
Personally, if you increase the positive information that’s coming into your brain, you’ll experience a better quality of life. How do you do this? Incorporate the daily practice of purpose, power and intent. You must learn to intentionally choose what you allow to enter your minds. Need some examples?
- Limit the amount of time you watch the news or other media sources depicting negative or depressing content.
- Make a habit of reading positive messages, quotes or stories on a regular basis.
- Purposely include positive comments or exchanges in conversations.
- Stop criticizing others
- Set boundaries for yourself when dealing with confrontations or negative situations. Only allow yourself to think about or dwell on negative thoughts for minutes at a time. Then shift your focus.
- Practice writing down things you are thankful for at the end of each day.
- Plan or engage in activities that create positive memories.
- Take the time to laugh and play
- Exercise and take care of your body
What do you think?
Have you experienced days or moments when your brain input has negatively affected your mood or productivity (your output))? Are you careful to limit the amount of negativity in your life? And are there things you can do to increase the amount of good stuff that’s coming in to your brain? We’d love to hear about your experiences. Please leave your comments or suggestions below.