Positivity Brain Boosters

Many of us believe that once our offices or homes are running smoothly, then we will have time to be happy.  There is, however, a substantial amount of research that shows exactly the opposite is true. When we embrace happiness first, in spite of our circumstances, we strengthen our ability to think creatively and solve problems more efficiently.

There will always be external circumstances that make our work challenging, but deciding to be happy is an internal decision, meaning it is within your control. Below are three science–supported activities that boost the dopamine in your brain and allow you to increase your resilience, your problem-solving abilities, and your overall quality of life. Pick one, try it out, and keep the good going by sharing it with your team.

1. GRATITUDE
Research shows that expressing gratitude allows you to notice the good things that already exist in your world. 

Action Item: There are lots of way to express gratitude but start by writing about 5 things a week that you are truly grateful for. You don’t need to do this every day, in fact, the exercise is believed to be more impactful if you only do it one day a week.  Focus on the “why” behind your feelings of gratitude and really savor the thought of these items as you are writing about them. Make sure you truly feel grateful for the things you write about. It doesn’t work if you write about things you think you should be grateful for.

Take It To Your Team: Share the practice with your team and ask people to take turns at the beginning of staff meetings highlighting what they are grateful for. 

2. LEARN NEW COPING SKILLS
People who create meaning from their adversities are more resilient and are able to find new solutions to old challenges.

Action Item: Make a point to look for lesson in each situation. Consider what skills your current situation is allowing you to develop and focus on mastering them.

Take It To Your Team: Empower your team members to challenge every negative comment they hear about the current situation with a positive belief or silver lining. You could even turn this into a game and give people points for every silver lining they find during the week.

3. AVOID OVERTHINKING
Overthinking a difficult situation drains our mental resources. Controlling our thoughts, however, allows us to reclaim cognitive control of our lives.

Action Item: Schedule 30 minutes a day that you will allow yourself to worry or ruminate over difficult situations. When your mind starts to chatter outside of the scheduled time, gently remind yourself that you have some time set aside for that later, but now is the time to re-focus on the task at hand.

Take It To Your Team: Challenge your team to “not sweat the small stuff.”  You may want to start this activity by having them make posters reminding them of the “Big Stuff.” That could include the company mission, the team objectives, and their own values. Then when the team finds themselves spending time and energy on challenges, have them circle back and decide if this is time well spent or if they are really just sweating the small stuff.

Want more science-based activities that increase resilience and reduce burnout on your team? I can help you and your team discover their possibilities.

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