How often do you find yourself walking into work and saying, “Hey, let me tell you the great thing that’s happened to me!”? Or, “Did you hear the good news on the way into work?” Dr. Terry Paulson has used such an exercise in his program to get participants out of their seats and telling others the great thing that has happened to them recently. I’ve adapted the idea to my own presentation style, and when we’ve finished, there’s a change in the room. Identifying a good thing that’s happened to them — or even hearing a positive report from someone else — changes how audience members feel the rest of the day.
Just the simple act of smiling will improve your mood, even if you have to fake it at first. Since we get to decide how we react, let’s set ourselves up to succeed instead of fail. You may know someone who seems to be the happiest person in the world, even when everything wrong happens. If their leg fell off, they’d probably say, “Wow — I always wanted to learn how to hop!” You also know other people who, if they won the lottery would complain about how much tax they’d have to pay. Which person do you prefer to be around?
Have you ever gone into a stressful meeting as a project manager? Let’s rephrase: ever not gone into a stressful meeting? People don’t expect stress, they dread it — stress in advance! An PMP I know deals with negative expectations this way: once everyone is seated, he walks to the front, opens his briefcase on the table, pulls out a big family-size bottle of Pepto-Bismol, puts it in the middle of the table, and announces, “Help yourself!” Everybody laughs and it breaks the tension. Of course, the rest of the meeting is designed so no one will “pass the Pepto.” It’s there as a prop, not as a treatment.
William Adams said, “Most of us are just about as happy as we make up our minds to be.” So, it’s important to have great expectations, because you generally find what you expect. If the town you’ve left was full of neighborly people, the one you move to will be, also. It works the other way, as well.
What about old age? What are you expecting from life’s advancing years? I think age sneaks up on men quicker than women. At the mall recently, I thought to myself, “Where were all these beautiful young women when I went to school?” Then it hit me: daycare! I expect to grow old, not get old — and if they put me in daycare when I’m old, I’ll be having fun there, too.
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