3 Lessons From Eeyore on Cheering Up
It’s dreary here. February and March are cruel in Pennsylvania.
I recently talked with a friend in New Zealand. It’s late summer there. But it’s late winter here and it’s been cloudy since December 3.
This morning it’s raining.
3 dangers of negative emotion:
- Small irritations are more irritating when you’re blue.
- People are more frustrating when it’s cloudy.
- Problems are bigger when you’re pessimistic.
3 lessons from Eeyore:
#1. “Don’t blame me if it rains.” Eeyore
List all the “drizzling issues” that come to mind. (Take five minutes.)
Circle the most serious issues and put a square around the least serious.
Cross out every issue on your list where you have little or no control.
Successful leaders focus on things within their control.
Which drizzling issue – that’s within your control – would you like to begin solving today?
Lower your expectations. You don’t need to solve it. Just begin.
#2. Think “It could be worse.”
“It’s snowing still,” said Eeyore gloomily.
“So it is.”
“Yes,” said Eeyore. “However,” he said, brightening up a little, “we haven’t had an earthquake lately.”
#3. The blues aren’t permanent.
“The nicest thing about the rain is that it always stops. Eventually.” Eeyore
Perhaps you tend toward less happiness. Bubbly people irritate you.
Explanatory style impacts attitude. Pessimists think problems are permanent and pervasive. Optimists think of problems as temporary and isolated. (Read, “Learned Optimism,” by Martin Seligman)
4 tips that Eeyore didn’t suggest:
#4. Avoid complainers.
Don’t have coffee with Downer Dave or Negative Nancy. You can’t permanently avoid them, but just for today you can.
#5. Improve something.
The door has been sticking for months. Get some sandpaper and fix it.
#6. Do something you enjoy.
- Go on a ‘tell me something good’ walk-about.
- Exercise over lunch. (At least take a walk.)
- Walk up and down the stairs a few times.
What’s dangerous about negative emotion? Not dangerous?
What do you do when you feel blue?
16 Ways to Lead Through Sadness (Leadership Freak)
Glad, Mad, Sad, Teams Catch a Leaders Mood (Goleman)
7 Ways to Cheer Up in Less than 60 Seconds (Jack Canfield)
Thank you. Good reminders–we all have a bit of Piglet, Winnie-the-Poo, Tigger and Eeyore in us, and around us!
That’s the truth. Have a good weekend.
Negative emotion can spiral quickly, especially for those vulnerable. At times, these feelings can be contagious and counter healthy team dynamics. On the flip side, some will be motivated by negativity. Recognizing how people are impacted by interaction, stress, and environment can keep the team/organization healthy.
What do you do when you feel blue? Exercise is my vice for feeling better but balancing life has always been the key for me – it is a work in progress.
I encourage people to find their “small victory” of the day. Eventually, I found people wanted to share a victory at 7:30 in the morning – their workout, coffee with spouse, or a train that was on time.
Thanks Krishla. That last paragraph is brilliant. .. a train that was on time… we need to remember the small wins. Our need for BIG wins causes us to neglect the small ones. The problem is big wins aren’t as frequent as small wins.
#2. Think “It could be worse.”; Its all about context, where are you, what are you doing, how do you compare with others in a worse situation or better and do you have the strength to continue forward. I always attempt to put context in all I do. I’m healthy employed, my family is doing well in comparison to many others. With the corona virus scares where do you all stand, do you take precautions, are you prepared to respond. That flu hits me hard since 100 years ago in 1920 one of My Great Grandmothers and her 8 year old son (My grandmothers twin brother) died from the Spanish Flu in Michigan. Context and it could be worse.
Thanks Roger. Using the word “context” is helpful to me. It’s easy to lose context…to think that everything’s bad…when there’s lots of good too.
I try to think of at least 3 things that went well — today/this morning/this week/last night… whatever time frame works… Once I think of one or two I often start rattling off way more than three. It’s a gratitude exercise.
I also use a prompt to take stock of something that “surprised, inspired, or delighted you.” These little nudges help me shift my mindset…
Caroline Webb talks a lot about this in her book How to Have a Good Day. She refers to it as our brain being in defend vs discovery mode. There’s a good overview in a Wharton podcast here: https://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/how-to-have-a-good-day-at-work/
Thanks Anon. We have to acknowledge that there’s a connection between our thought life and our attitude about life. I respect how you extend the conversation.
Avoid negative people is almost impossible where I work we have so many. But good advise
Negativity can be a killer in the workplace. One overly negative person can bring down the energy of an entire group and a ‘no’ mindset can throw a wrench in any project. It’s very helpful to have some resources to try to mold a negative mindset into a positive one. Sometimes it’s a temporary, in this case winter weather-based, doldrums but for some people negativity is a way of life. Perhaps that sort of thinking was advantageous in some situations during human evolution. Early negative man did not believe in himself enough to steal the sabre tooth tiger’s kill and thus he lived to pass on his genes. However, being too careful means a lot of missed opportunity. In a modern corporate environment, the consequences of failure may still be intense, but they’re not likely to be life or death. Keeping an upbeat environment where everyone feels comfortable to share ideas without immediately being shot down by a negative Nancy is key towards keeping forward momentum. People will eventually stop speaking up and projects will stagnate.
I can see potential for an overly negative member of the team, with proper balance from some more positive colleagues, to serve a helpful function. He or she could potentially serve a dedicated “devil’s advocate” function. Instead of letting every member have equal say in both coming up with ideas and critiquing them, separate the ideas team from the critique team. Rather than letting ideas be killed by negativity, the teams can challenge each other to not just find problems, but come up with creative solutions in an environment of playful competition.
Even just within yourself. When the weather, or an irritation, or a spot of bad luck gets you down, make it a game. What can you do to outsmart the situation and transform your inner Eeyore?