We launch every week at Maestro with a short staff meeting we call water cooler. It’s a holdover from past days when the few of us that made up Maestro literally clustered around the water cooler. While this fount is no longer the focal point of our gatherings, the name has stuck.
We’re always looking for ways to liven up these sessions and start the week on a positive note. So we were delighted a few weeks ago when a Maestronaut suggested viewing a TED Talk video by Shawn Achor entitled The happy secret to better work. We really think you need to view it yourself to get the full effect.
We will divulge, however, that it focuses on research into positive psychology and ways that make it possible to raise your level of positivity. For us, the big payoff came at the end, where Shawn shared a short list of ways to “train your brain to become more positive.”
We’ll let you discover the list on your own, but we do want to highlight two items from it and what some of us have done with them. One is to write down every day for 21 consecutive days three new things for which you are grateful. Another is to use the same three weeks to perform at least one random act of kindness per day.
Some of us began by ignoring the whole idea of a time limit. (If 21 days in a row is good, every day should be great, right?) Committing to demonstrate an attitude of gratitude every single day definitely ups the ante. As with so many other good habits, the secret of conformance is spelled d-i-s-c-i-p-l-i-n-e. Even so, life is life, and we all know how its demands can derail the best of intentions. That’s why at least one person I know gives herself an advantage.
The idea of sharing three new things to be grateful for each day with an accountability partner actually came from the spouse of one of our people. At the outset of every day, she and her good friend exchange their day’s list of three. If one lags, is distracted or tardy, the other encourages, supports and offers suggestions. The point? Simply to not let each other slip out of a positive frame of mind.
Does it work? The answer to that is embedded in another question: Do you want it to? For many of us at Maestro the answer is a resounding YES because we are fundamentally a positive organization with a servant’s heart.
Even so, we become discouraged sometimes. And we welcome any tool to help keep the negative where it belongs—out of our minds and hearts and interactions. We will likely never succeed completely, but we’ll settle for whatever gives us a leg up on feelin’ down. A little extra weight on the cheerful side of the scale. A sense of balance. And the presence of mind to remind ourselves and those we encounter that, in the end, the good in this world far outweighs the bad.