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The Good News List

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I was sitting with a local business owner recently, discussing the flood of bad economic news that was affecting his business. It seemed like every day was bringing new problems and throwing up new roadblocks in his effort to survive as a business.

This distress expanded into worries about what would happen to his family if the business failed as he began to envision selling off his personal property and facing personal bankruptcy if things did not get better.

After about 30 minutes of this discussion I stopped him. “You said, when we started, that there were a few good things and a lot of bad going on. We have been discussing the problems but you haven’t told me about the good things yet. I’m curious about those too.”

What happened next was fascinating (for a psychologist). As he began to talk about the good news of the past week, he also began to talk about ways to solve the problems he was facing. He was no longer complaining. Even when he considered the worst outcomes, he saw options that made him feel less helpless. We discussed this change and he confirmed that his mindset changed when he began to include the good things as part of the conversation.

There is a reason for this change, according to research done by Barbara Fredrickson, Ph.D. Positive thoughts lead us to actions that will “broaden and build.”

Discussing the stress that is really happening in the economy puts us in a “fight or flight” mindset. That means that the solutions that are considered tend to be narrow, immediate, and oriented toward survival rather than toward thriving. But a positive mindset is different. It engenders more open thinking, creativity, and broader possibilities.

The business owner decided to put up a good news board at the worksite. He and his management team are now paying attention to all of the data that is coming in, the positive as well as the negative, and it is changing the way they think about how to thrive in a difficult economy. And it is already beginning to show up in their bottom line.

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jmcphotos/ / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dr. John Weaver published on August 13, 2009 11:36 AM.

Whose Fault Is It That You’re Unhappy at Work Anyway? was the previous entry in this blog.

Watch Out or Engagement May Cost You Money and Produce No Results is the next entry in this blog.

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