“We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are.” – Anaïs Nin
With the 2017 inauguration behind us, America is embarking on a journey that demands a unified dedication to hope, acceptance, humility, and empathy. Reflecting on the past presidential election, it was evident that the results occurred to many as a surprise, to some as a disappointment, others as jubilant with cause to celebrate, and still others as a surreal event. Although I was somewhat surprised with the outcome, I chalked it up as just another election which I got wrong. (There have been others!) What is disturbing for me is the utter anguish and anxiety displayed by many after the results were announced.
On the next day after the election, I had a previously scheduled meeting with a client. As we waited to be served, I noticed that our greeter looked very distressed. My pastor would describe her as having a mouthful of hornets! I asked her what was wrong, and she went on to say that “this is a bad day.” I quizzed her to why she had such a dire perspective on this day, whereas it occurred to me as such a good day. So I asked:
Me: Are the important people in your life who you love alive today?
Me: Are you in relatively good health?
Me: Do you enjoy the work that you are doing?
Me: Then I am having a hard time understanding why this is a bad day for you!
A broad smile appeared on her face, and her eyes lit up. She went on to explain the menu items, and my client and I had a delightful meal. What happened? What changed her mood? She did! She took control and used personal volition as the originator of her joy, by examining her thoughts.
Some Positive Psychologists, like Dr. Martin Seligman and Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky have touted the notion that subjective happiness is based on a formula.
The formula is H = S + C + V where:
H: Happiness (100%)
S: Our biological set point (50%)
C: Conditions of living (10%)
V: Voluntary actions or choices we make daily (40%)
The executive summary of this model, is that a great deal of our happiness is based on our own volition and how we decide to react to a external stimulus. Consider the book, “Authentic Happiness” should you want a deeper dive. Additionaly consider this quote:
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt,
Dave Logan’s work titled “The Three Laws of Performance” unpacks our personal power as well. Similarly to profound knowledge, these concepts may appear counter intuitive. Logan writes that human performance is based on three laws:
First Law: How people perform correlates to how situations occur to them.
Second Law: How a situation occurs arises in language.
Third Law: Future-based language transforms how situations occur to people.
Typically future based language is generative. Making and keeping promises. Making requests. Declarations of how you are going to create and co-create your future, as examples. In life there will always be good times and times of challenge. Each event gives us a chance to grow our character in being more human, for our own good, and that of others or our personal and collective demise. I am not referring to walking around without a real sense of what’s going on, however, I am saying you will ultimately decide, not the event itself what that reality is. So the next time you are having a “bad day” think about how you might create or even co-create some sunshine.
Gerry D. Bouey, PhDc
TBG Leadership & Consulting, LLC
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