We’re in full-blown disruption and days away from a volatile election, while heading into a COVID winter. Generally speaking, optimism and joy are in short supply.
One article reports that employees’ capacity to absorb change without becoming fatigued has been cut in half since COVID. There are so many urgent issues facing us at this inflection point.
As a result, our resilience is often achingly sore like over-used muscles. We’re collectively lower in impulse control, higher in reactivity, and teetering at times to regain our sense of control.
Like Sunday, when my dog and I both got injured in a scuffle with another dog. We spent 13 hours in pet and human urgent care. I learned my forefinger may need surgery, and because I'm self-employed (no sick days), I headed straight into catastrophizing.
I forgot that I can still use my right hand, that I can still hunt and peck as I type, that I will heal if I need surgery and that my dog will heal as well. I forgot that the sky is not falling. I forgot that I would bounce back.
I went dark and hopeless.
We Have Options
In the article Three Positive Psychology Practices in Troubled Times, the author discusses that we often think we have only two options: 1) dwell in our misery and spiral into horror or 2) plaster on a smiley face, cover up our feelings beneath, stifle, suppress and pretend the problems don’t exist.
We forget that the third and most helpful option is to actually recognize our unpleasant feelings: disappointment, sadness, rage, grief, panic - and then use this emotional information to guide us in the next step of self-care.
So if you are full with feelings of frustration and grief, what does this tell you about what you need next for greater self-care and support?
Your Brain Needs a Party
Anticipating fun events is a key element to well-being, notes the author in Your Brain Needs a Party. Our brains are wired to anticipate positive things in the future. It increases our optimism, energy and happiness.
But that’s not exactly where we are now collectively – excited about the future. The article quotes psychologist Christine Waugh with a recommendation:
"You can still anticipate positive events, but you may have to scale it back — microdose it, if you will. Instead of thinking big or way in the future, think smaller and closer in time.”
No wonder I fell in love with the toad under my window and eagerly awaited his goodnight croaking as I arose at dawn - and courted the hummingbirds with not one but two feeders - and no wonder our national sourdough bread extravaganza,
We\'re adapting with a practice of gratitude and mindfulness - and what I like to call a process of #microjoy.
#microjoy in Team Meetings
So how do we support #microjoy in our team meetings? Do we ask: What brought you meaning and joy this weekend?
Think of the things we\'d learn about one another if we asked this regularly. Or maybe we decide to just let the energy free flow every now and then?
We did that last week in my professional mentorship circle. Before we even got to sharing our topics for discussion with our esteemed host and mentor, one member wanted to know how to use the lipstick feature in Zoom.
This is not the norm for this group.
Seconds later, there were daises behind our ears, party hats bouncing our heads, colored eyebrows, blue face masks, and rainbow glasses covering our faces. I probably laughed too loud and too long but it all felt so good.
However, we then shifted almost instantly into talking about liminality (I needed that explained to me) and gestation (my topic) in a period of transition.
Happiness is our ability to enjoy and experience pleasure from life’s activities. Optimism is our ability to maintain a realistic and positive attitude in the face of adversity.
For you and your team, how can you realistically increase the infusion of happiness and optimism? How can you engage #microjoy today?
Keep Each Other Close
We need to keep each other close and keep each other going.
Now I’m off to watch the rainfall on our hungry, drought-stricken land. Then I look forward to an afternoon cup of Constant Comment tea with local honey to warm my soul on this grey day.
How about you?