In The Midst of Opportunity

3 small steps to reframe negativity during the coronavirus crisis

Lolostock / Shutterstock
Lolostock / Shutterstock

John F. Kennedy is said to have quoted the following, “When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.” The accuracy of his quote has been disputed, even denounced, but the spirit of the quote is wonderfully applicable to the present day. If its alright with you, I’ll speak to the spirit of the idea.

While on a flight from DC recently, and in between multiple applications of hand sanitizer, I had a few moments to ponder my short term future. My speaking business had experienced exponential growth during that last few quarters with no less than 14 future gigs etched on the calendar. All of them have been either cancelled or postponed. Yet, this is NOT a complaint. Many are suffering much worse than I and, relatedly, I’m feeling great…no virus symptoms here. So rather than ruminate about what could have been, I thought about how these challenges in front of me can be viewed from a healthier lens, one that looks for the rose amidst the thorns.

Our practice at GoPositiv centers on shifting mindsets from a negative default to a positive one. When we are successful sustaining this shift for the long term, as researchers such as Fredrickson, Seligman, and Lyubomirsky all posit, we are better in every domain of our lives, including work performance. I can think of no better time than the present to make that shift, countering the onslaught of negativity that we are battered with through each daily news cycle. Here’s a few evidence-based opportunities present to all of us:

Be Other-Focused – its easy, as we are encouraged to hunker down and practice social distancing, to focus on the self. How do I keep safe? What are my immediate needs? But viruses and illness are not the only contagion relevant today, so is the contagion of positivity, helping others, and being part of the solution. When we focus on the greater good, and achieve a “helpers high”, we become a model to others; we also release oxytocin, serotonin, bolster our immune system all the while mitigating pain, stress and anxiety. A perfect antidote to the current climate.

Think Optimistically – we will get through this, maybe even learn from it and grow from it. Optimism can be defined as “hope for the future, wedded to reality.” Think of the concept more as an action, a verb, how you think. Our tomorrow is a choice. I’m reminded of Helen Keller’s quote, “Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.” As humans, we have the ability to think about our thinking, its called metacognition. Pay special attention to your thoughts and shift them to a brighter future.

Share Gratitude – I probably get more inquiries on this age-old intervention than any other. It seems so soft and fluffy that business audiences naturally recoil at the very suggestion of its power. Understood. But on a practical level, looking for the good in things during such dark times is much better for our well-being than any fad diet or quick-fix. If we do this enough, say every few days, the unconscious brain latches on to this new gratitude pattern and begins to look for the good, even without our conscious help. We actually counter our genetic pre-disposition for a negativity bias and begin creating a positivity bias. What good things can you focus on? I bet they are right in front of you.

In today’s climate, its easy to focus on the negative. But what good is that? As author and speaker Joyce Meyer states, “A positive attitude gives you power over your circumstances, instead of your circumstances having power of you.” I have my moments. I fail at times. But more and more I catch myself, reframe to the positive, with the only thing I’m spreading, hopefully, is a mindset that believes, “We Got This.” Tomorrow’s going to be just fine.

Originally published on LinkedIn.

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