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Cultivating Positive Emotion

I was asked to be the motivational speaker at a client’s sales meeting a few months ago. As I was preparing my remarks, I realized that the sequence of the 7 habits that I describe in my book, “You Can’t Give What You Don’t Have” was wrong. My first habit and what I thought was the most important habit is “Living with Purpose” followed by “Cultivating Positive Emotion”. My big insight was that cultivating positive emotion had to be first and was the keystone habit for the other six because the most important thing for us to do each and every day is to create an upward spiral of positive emotion. When we are able to do that, everything else is easier. We are happier, more enthusiastic, creative, open, motivated, and hopeful.

Now, how you and I go about cultivating greater positive emotion is very individualistic. For me, there is nothing better than to jump on a bike for a 20 to 30-minute workout that gets my heart rate really going, cool down with a short meditation, and make several entries in my gratitude journey of things to be grateful for from the day before. I then engage my tool, “The Six Ps’ for Profound and Positive Living” where I quickly take stock of

· my Purpose for the day;

· the Principles I want to live in support of my purpose;

· the Priorities that will make this day successful;

· the People I want to make sure I connect with and reach out to;

· the Perspective I want to remind myself of that this day is blessed and filled with amazing opportunities;

· and lastly, the Presence that I want to be mindful of as I engage the rest of my day with as much positivity as I can possibly muster to include a very simple prayer, “God, may I be a blessing to all those I will encounter on this very special day.”.

Call me crazy, but on those days when I walk through the ritual I describe here; I can feel the positive neurotransmitters pulsing through my body and I am ready for the day with as much enthusiasm and excitement as possible. In psychology, there is a therapy called, “Behavioral Activation Therapy” that is built on helping clients activate those things that they enjoy and are excited to do. It is the doing that in turn supports their being. Someone described it as “doing happy” instead of “being happy”. There is also emerging research in resilience development and Post-traumatic Growth that supports the importance of getting people active mentally and physically as a means to keep them focused on progress, growth, and maintaining positive emotion.

Why don’t you try it for a few days?

What are the things that you love to do?

Read poetry; listen to your favorite music; reading; knitting; sitting under a shady tree reflecting on nature’s goodness; engaging in quiet prayer; yoga or some other form of exercise; grabbing a cup of coffee (in-person or virtually) with an old and dear friend; spending time with your children or grandchildren in play.

A picture of me cultivating positive emotion with my grandson, Rowan.

The possibilities for cultivating positive emotion are endless and when you start your day with even one of them, you set yourself up for success and certainly greater happiness and joy in your life.

(Even in an election year during a crazy pandemic!)


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