Harnessing power of comparison to stay positive!

Life is full of emotions and emotions are like a wave, it has crests & troughs. Sometime, we are filled with lots of positive energy, this is crests of life wave. Other time, we experience troughs, lows in life. Brain generates these feelings (waves) based on the continuous comparisons it is performing. Good or bad are subjective, most of the time based upon societal and cultural acceptance. Our brain has inbuilt capability of doing comparisons. It takes these acceptances as parameters and do comparisons to bring out the objective results of good and bad. As a result, we tend to benchmark our performance based on the comparison with others around us. This is absolutely normal, everyone goes through this on daily basis without noticing.

Crests are fine but troughs need more attention to lead a balanced happy life. Troughs are time when we are filled with negative energy. These can have chaining effects, leading to irreversible damage in extreme conditions. Un-handled troughs can make one vulnerable to severe depression. And, depression has been cited as one of the main reasons of – why people commit suicide. This is extreme but in normal cases too, troughs eat up valuable and fixed time of our lives. Handling troughs effectively is of utmost importance.

One need to accept that trough phase is temporary, one need to be “Hopeful” through out this phase. Most of us do this automatically and fight through the trough. Intense troughs need special attention though. We know that “comparisons” are reason behind troughs and “hope” during these times, is the way out. Comparisons by brain are unavoidable in normal cases, but can be used for one’s advantage by keeping “hope” intact using a simple exercise.

Any comparisons will have at least two parties. Generally, one is person and other is her surrounding. This is done by brain automatically. Let us have an intentional comparison when feeling low, have two parties as – your past and your present. Actually, both the parties are ‘you’ in this comparison but from different times. Take a sheet, make two partitions – present and past. Under present section, write down all the achievements (as many as possible) that you had in past 5 years/months/days, including the smallest ones. Write down what you are able to do now that you were not able to do 5 years/months /days before. These achievements could be as small as learning to pronounce a word that you were not able to do earlier. Repeat the same for past section, write down that you were able to do before 5 years/months/days. I am sure, list under present section is longer than the one under past section.

Look closely, you have been under troughs before as well and you were successfully out of these. Tell yourself that you did it before and you will be able to do this again. But, this time, it could be really tough. There might be ‘not so good’ things that might have happened, like – lost money in business, lost a job, lost someone etc. Let’s look at few of these. One can lose money in businesses for n number of reasons, may be overall market is down. Some business decision went wrong etc. In former case, you just need little more patience and probably you are not alone. In later case, you learned what did not work for you. You can avoid this in future. There are many examples who started from zero in business at varied age and phases of life, you can also do the same. Losing a job, is ok too. Get relevant or enhance existing skills, if needed and start apply to new jobs. Do not put all eggs in single basket, have back ups. You can always start over in such situations. Losing someone is irreversible, one has to accept such things and move on. All of these are just incidents, each one of us have these in life. Most of these have easy ways out. We just need to relax a bit and take a re-look on these. These are just part of life, these are not your failures really, rather tests on how you look at life.

Always have a list of positive people around, these can be family or friends. Talk to these people more often. Positive people are good at appreciation. They help seeing brighter side of things and helps keeping one “hopeful” during trough times.

All the best!!

Look in the mirror, that’s your competition.

                — Mick Kremling

Getting in the habit of Appreciation

There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.

– Mother Teresa

We, humans, do not just enjoy appreciation; we crave for it. It’s a human trait. Probably, each one of us has felt need to be appreciated and witnessed power of appreciation sometime. In a poll of around 60,000 employees, conducted by Sirota Survey Intelligence, showed that appreciation is a powerful way to deliver on people’s key expectations – Treatment with respect, dealt with equitably and gaining sense of connection with organisation on work and personal level. A simple thanks, noticing the good in others help us noticing the good in ourselves. It makes a lot of difference in relationships.

Many organisations have core values revolving around – Respect, Equitably, honesty, integrity etc. Giving appreciation is necessary to deliver on these values. At first, giving appreciation can be awkward to a leader. This gets easier with practice. Keep some time aside for appreciation during key meetings and interactions. But! Do it when you actually mean it. People are smart enough to identify if you are faking it and this can do damage instead of good.

Rules of effective appreciation:

Sincere – Do not fake. Say it if you mean it.

Immediate – Do not wait for doing something special, that may take time. Seize the moment, do it right away.

Often – Do it often and appropriately. Do not assume it’s part of regular job and expected.

Specific – Make it specific. Saying “Thanks for making project plan ready with all the details needed. I know, this takes lot of time and efforts.” is more effective than saying “Thanks for good job on the project”.

“Sincere” is most critical among all the rules and one has to get in habit of appreciation to do it right. This not only helps in organisations but also of great help in personal relationships. Start working on the habit with people more closer to you personally. They can be spouse, parents, kids and friends. Set a goal for your self to appreciate three people daily for two weeks. Make sure to strike a balance between rule of “Often” and “Sincere with keeping in mind “Immediate” and “Specific”. Keeping track of goals in form of some personal notes comes very handy.

Now, you are comfortable balancing the four rules, extent the exercise to work place. Set a goal of appreciating five people daily for a month, needless to say, keeping the rules in mind.

All the best!!