Science has shown us what metaphysicians have known for centuries. Our thoughts and feelings actually can make us smarter and more open to collaboration and new ideas. When we think positive thoughts and feel confident and positive our brains transmit oxytocin, the bonding neurotransmitter and opioids, which buffer stress and produce pleasure and serotonin — a happy natural drug.
This makes up more open to working with others, thinking outside the box and allows us to be more productive.
When we are sad, angry or upset, the following are elevated: dopamine in excess, norepinephrine (stress hormone) testosterone (aggression and the war hormone) and steroids. This leads to a breakdown in communication, aggression and a lack of communication.
I have found that consciously creating rituals can make you happier and more successful. Here is why: A ritual is a structured situation that moves you from one level of consciousness to another. Since there is a part of your brain that does not know the difference between a ritual and an actual event, this has a powerful effect on your ability to focus, create relationships and move forward in your life. It is key to your success and happiness.
As Paolo-Guenzi writes in The Harvard Business Review, “All organizations have rituals-from the mundane everyday routines (coffee breaks, tea time) to major, less frequent events like annual meetings and retirement parties. Smart leaders, however, recognize that rituals like these and others are levers for improving the organization’s performance and they take the creation and nurturing of rituals very seriously. “
Have you ever thought of your coffee in the morning and the Wall Street Journal, as a ritual? What does this ritual do to start your day? What does it do for your brain? How does it open you up and get your brain ready for the day?
How do you use emails at work? What is the ritual behind your process? How do you show up at work?
Unfortunately the feel good hormones only last a short time while the others can last for days. In fact, science is now telling us the pain we feel when we have a negative social experience is just as painful as breaking a leg.
Anger and fear are the main emotions expressed at work today and it is important to discover conscious ways to acknowledge and deal with them without hitting someone over the head with your hostility or withdrawing into your own world.
If you take action from fear or anger you close down and disconnect from the love and excitement you have from your business. Think of the difference between calling a potential client out of fear or joy. The first is rooted in survival. If I don’t’ make this sale I will be out of business or my business will suffer vs. calling the same client to share what I do and how we can benefit each other.
Here are some tips to develop spiritual and emotional awareness and shift into a positive mind set.
1.Start the morning with a pep talk
Acknowledge your strengths and focus on what you can accomplish. Focus on what you do brilliantly and from which you produce extraordinary results.
Focusing on what you do well and love gives you energy and new ideas.
If you can’t do this yourself, find a friend to call you in the morning or send you a positive motivational text.
2. Never answer the phone on the first ring. Use it to trigger a relaxation response by taking a few deep breaths. Then, and only then will you be able to have a calm conversation.
3. Take relaxation breaks during the day. Even if it is only for 5 minutes: walk, get some fresh air, listen to music, meditate (or if you work at home, take a short nap). Research shows that people who actually take lunch breaks are more productive.
4. Identify your fears. When you feel your body giving you signals that you are moving into stress (tightening of the neck, pulsing in head, shallow breathing, feeling like someone punched you in the gut) this is the time to STOP and see what you are really feeling. Are you frustrated? Angry? Sad? Taking reflective time gives you clarity and reduces the intensity of your feelings.
5. Find constructive ways to deal with your feelings. You might write down your feelings/thoughts then rip them up (if you are doing this on a computer or smart phone, make sure to press DELETE. Get a venting partner who you totally trust, but make sure to time your venting. It shouldn’t go over 5 minutes. And your venting partner does not have to be a feedback partner. All he/she needs to do is be a good listener.
6. Acknowledge your successes. Say “ I did it!” and make sure to show appreciation for others who may have helped you. Make sure to celebrate even the small steps along the way. This teaches the brain that you actually can accomplish what you set out to and builds motivation and a foundation for success. I like to keep a “success jar” on my desk. It is a plain glass jar with the words SUCCESS pasted on. Every time I take an action towards one of my goals, I place a coin or dollar in the jar. At the end of the month, I use this to celebrate.
Rituals can open the door to new behavior and results. Be consistent, be mindful and be open to change.
Originally published at medium.com