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The Power of a Small, Positive Conversation

Make time to ask yourself and others, “What is the best thing that has happened to me/you so far today?” Then really listen to the answer.

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COVID has us all so tense. We are in hyper-worry mode – worried and anxious about our health, our finances, our work and our families. Sometimes it just feels like too much. But here is something important: this response is the same for most people we encounter throughout our days.

For this year, I made a commitment to intentionally engage with everyone I encounter – at the grocery store, coffee shop, people out walking – and asking this one great positive and empowering question: “What is the best thing that has happened to you so far today?”

I love this for two reasons.

First, it forces me to engage with others. I get out of my own head, away from my own worries, and remind myself there is a big, bold world out there full of great people, all working through living life in a way that matters. They need and want to be heard. They need and want to feel valued and important. Making time to engage with others shares our humanity and helps us all share this moment in time.

Second, this question focuses the engagement with others on the positive. Though our world may be more challenging than easy at the moment, this question forces the other person to shift their thinking and see something great amidst all the challenges – and share it.

In my efforts to come up with this question, and commit to using it, I noticed that people always seemed to focus on their challenge and misery whenever anyone interacted with them, whether those interactions were with people who were familiar or strangers. And this led both people to walk away from the conversation more down than when they started.

So help every interaction focus on the good – to learn to see that even in tough times, there are bright spots, worthy of awareness and celebration. Making time to ask this question is a game-changer for everyone involved.

To do this with others, my habit was to first do this for myself. I wrote the question on a Post-it note and attached to my computer. This was an intentional placement because I’m at my desk most days. For this reason, the question crosses my vision many times a day, so I actually stop and think about it. And this practice has made it a regular reminder to focus on the good, the great and even the amazing, despite the constant barrage of negative COVID, political and environmental bad news.

A great life, I believe, is made up of lots of great small events. If I can’t see them because the world likes to share the negative more than the positive, then I can easily get caught up in it and feel that life is difficult and unhappy. But by shifting how I look at these same moments, I have found that even the toughest of situations always house something worthy of “wow!” That is a game-changer.

Since I have been asking this question to the people I know and regularly see, I now get a big smile and an answer before I even ask it whenever I see them. That simple little question, and the commitment to regularly ask it and listen to the response, has had a powerful impact on my life and the lives of the people around me.

Though this new habit of mine certainly has a big impact, it didn’t require a significant effort to start. Think of it as a Microstep, something you can start small with that will help you shift your mindset to a more positive and productive one.

I encourage you to start a new habit to make time to ask yourself and others, “What is the best thing that has happened to me/you so far today?” Then really listen to yourself and others. Doing this will inspire a mood and attitude change, and will empower you (and others) to refocus on the gift of life, not only on its challenges. 

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