We are hardwired to remember the negative things in our lives. It’s a defense mechanism that is built into us humans. After all, when early man lived on the savannah, recalling those bad things kept him alive—Oh yeah, that’s where a lion lives, I won’t go there again; or Yikes, that noise is a rattlesnake, I’d better back up.
The trouble is, thousands of years later, our minds still believe that focusing on the negative will keep us safe. We tend to forget that we aren’t surviving in the wild, but trying to thrive in a modern world.
And yet still, negative memories stick to us like Teflon.
Martin Seligman, a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania, developed many of the ideas used today in Positive Psychology. One of his concepts is an exercise called 3 Good Things. Seligman suggests that each night, just before bedtime, people remember three good things that happened during that day, and especially how they helped bring those good things about. Those positive memories are then processed during our REM sleep, and the theory is we’ll wake up more optimistic and confident. Doing that for just two weeks has helped test subjects feel effects not unlike Prozac.
It seems we can short-circuit our human tendency to the negative by remembering just 3 Good Things every day.
So, can a similar concept help improve our work lives?
The research is compelling that positive work cultures are more productive and profitable than negative cultures. John Kotter and James Heskett of the Harvard School of Business in 1992 unveiled the findings of an 11-year study that found positive cultures had stock growth 10 times higher than organizations with negative workplaces, and revenue growth was more than four times greater in the positive than the negative.
It’s really a no-brainer, isn’t it, that positivity will breed productivity in our teams. But how do we do it?
Here’s a simple challenge that won’t take a lot of time or money, but we believe can make a big difference:
Every day for the next two weeks commit to 3 Random Acts of Kindness at work.
Your daily Acts of Kindness might be as simple as:
(PS, a bit of advice: This does not mean doing creepy nice things: Rubbing shoulders, giving flowers, telling someone how hot they look today, etc.)
So the challenge: For two weeks without fail, do not go home until you’ve done your 3 Random Acts of Kindness, even if they are small. Over the fortnight we hope you’ll find these acts are creating a better team culture and you are more positive as well.
By making a better workplace for others, we make ourselves better leaders.
We’d love to hear how you make your team a little better place to work.
Original article appeared in Linkedin Pulse
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