Thank you” is an oft overlooked phrase that has the power to transform both our minds and our bodies.
I keep a simple thank you card on my desk. My wife gave it to me exactly one year ago. Every now and then, I read it again and smile. It means much more to me than the words on the card. It kindles gratitude in me, as well as fond memories and warm feelings.
More than half of Americans are dissatisfied in their work, according to a recent survey by the Conference Board, a New York based nonprofit. Work can be stressful, frustrating and exhausting. If we are going to spend the majority of our waking hours working, wouldn’t it be nice to make them as purposeful, satisfying and productive as possible? How on earth are we supposed to do that?
How do you respond when your spouse, friend or family asks, “How was your day?” If you are like most people, it is all too easy to unload the various frustrations, injustices and wrongs you encountered. We tend to do this rather than highlight the good experiences from our day. Some term this the negativity bias. Put simply, it is our natural tendency to focus on the bad instead of the good. We do this at work, at home, with our children and so on.
To be honest, the negativity bias isn’t all bad. This natural bias helps us detect and avoid danger. However, when we become overly focused on the bad (i.e. pessimism) at the exclusion of the good, it can lead to a host of concerns:
As a kid, I was never the smartest in the class, the most athletic, the most…anything, really. I went with the flow, but if I was honest with myself, I wasn’t truly happy. Something just didn’t feel right. I wanted to be great and achieve more. Looking back I now realize what was going on. I was being misled and sabotaged by my own thinking. I felt unsatisfied, disappointed and unfulfilled.