Amidst the resolutions we make at the start of the new year are the old standbys. Lose weight. Quit smoking. Exercise more. See the world. Be kind.
Our mind is made up. We make these resolutions clearly and intentionally. Yet too few of us change our behaviors to ensure those resolutions come to fruition. We don’t do the hard work, so the results we desire don’t happen.
Yet success is within reach. All we have to do is tweak our habits a bit and refine our actions a bit so we do enjoy a better way. I suggest that each of us needs to add one more resolution to our list – to be a positive force in our home, community, and workplace. I’ll help you with some proven behavioral tweaks.
First off, why be a positive force? Why invest time in your positive well being? What’s in it for you?
The benefits are quite astounding. People with high well being are 31 percent more productive than people with low well being. They have triple the creativity. They are ten times more engaged. They generate 37 percent more sales. They are three times more satisfied. (Tom Rath & Jim Harter, The Economics Of Wellbeing, Gallup Press, 2010; Shawn Achor, Positive Intelligence, Harvard Business Review, January-February 2012)
There are five pillars of well being: five areas that we humans need to invest time and energy in to boost positive well being regularly. (Lisa Zigarmi & Chris Edmonds, Positivity At Work, ThinkAha, 2012). They are positive emotion, positive relationships, meaning and purpose, positive accomplishment, and positive physical health. Let’s take a brief look at each pillar.
- Positive Emotion – When we express positive emotion, stress is reduced and optimism increases. Positive emotions include appreciation, gratitude, inspiration, awe, joy, and amusement. Laughing with colleagues, not at colleagues, is a powerful emotion – as is expressing thanks for peers’ efforts.
- Positive relationships – They enable us to experience trust, kindness, support – and even challenging conversations to push us higher. Humans are wired for social connection. Positive relationships are the single most important source of well being. Nurture relationships with those you trust – and repair poor relationships where you can. Getting those to civil is a big gain on the well being scale.
Meaning & Purpose – This is the extent to which people perceive their actions – at work, at home, in their community – create lasting worth for everyone, not just for themselves. Daniel Pink’s book, Drive, explains the power of purpose as the yearning to do what we can do in the service of something larger than ourselves. One of the best selling books of all time says that, “Without vision, the people perish.”
How can you craft meaningful purpose? Create an avenue for people to volunteer in the community – ten hours a year isn’t much but will do a great deal of good. They don’t have to volunteer as a team, though that’s a powerful relationship benefit. Volunteer with Habitat for Humanity or a local soup kitchen, every month.
- Positive Accomplishment – This is about developing mastery and demonstrating competence in service to others. People who know their strengths and deploy them daily experience greater well being than those who do not. Doing your best matters – your fingerprints are on everything you do. Focus and apply your skills intentionally so you are proud of your products and services daily.
Positive Health – Thisis more than the absence of sickness. It’s a foundation of energy, vibrancy, resilience, stamina, and fitness. Physically fit people live longer, happier, more successful lives. Exercise improves your immune system and fends off stress, dementia, and depression.
What’s a good gauge of your positive health? Check your body mass index. Get a step counter to track your daily activity. Monitor the calories you burn and those you take in daily. Fuel your best self with a slow carb diet, eating lean proteins and vegetables.
Start small. Embrace some of these practices in your home, workplace, and community. It’ll take some time to embrace this new positive force strategy and embed new habits.
You’re going to be at work, at home, and in your neighborhood anyway. You may as well boost your well being while there.