Over the past few years, more and more people and organizations have had their eyes opened to the extreme power of simple gratitude. No longer just the domain of pre-Thanksgiving Dinner share sessions, scientific research has been showing that those of us who intentionally make an effort to think about what we’re thankful for and express our gratitude to those around us are generally happier, healthier, and live more fulfilling lives. However, the key word in that last paragraph is intentional. Our brains are wired like thermostats, and have a tendency to emotionally regulate themselves back to a default state in the face of extreme changes. When an emotion is experienced frequently, this trait (called “hedonic adaptation") causes that emotion to be felt less strongly, which can make it difficult to be fully aware of when something truly positive is happening in our lives.
What is a habit? In the most basic terms, it’s your brain rewiring itself to make life easier… for itself. When we repeat something often enough, our brains create the neural pathways that make these tasks feel like second nature, meaning we have to devote very little brainpower to completing them successfully. This is great when you don’t have to think about brushing your teeth before bed, but it can be not-so-great when it comes time to break a habit that’s detrimental or unhealthy, like responding defensively to constructive criticism or pushing back against changes to your work routine.
For many people, they think that burnout is the same as stress, but that’s not entirely accurate. Stress is acute–we experience it in-the-moment due to a particular trigger. But burnout? Burnout is more long-term. It stems from accumulated stress over time, and often manifests almost like a depression: you may feel perpetually exhausted and anxious. You may feel like you can’t catch up on sleep, or that nothing brings you pleasure. You have trouble concentrating and connecting with people you love. Burnout takes time to set in, and also takes time to heal, and it’s often caused by long-term workplace stressors (although it can definitely be caused by non-work-related concerns such as marital problems or ongoing crises). What can you do if you’re feeling burned out at work? Here are five things you can do as a coworker or manager to help yourself and others find relief.
Choose Your Attitude is one of the 4 core pillars of the FISH! Philosophy, and is perhaps the one that requires the most personal reflection in order to really internalize. To Choose Your Attitude is to be aware of your emotions and to make the conscious decision to alter your behavior in a way that better suits the situation at-hand. The FISH! Philosophy recognizes that every situation is unique, and choosing your attitude is not meant to prescribe a particular attitude or behavior at any given moment (c’mon, do any of us react positively when someone tells us to “just stay positive”?!). Fundamentally, choosing your attitude is about practicing mindfulness: recognizing that we’re feeling a certain way, that those feelings are likely externalized via our outward behavior and demeanor, and that this behavior affects both others’ perceptions of us as well as our perceptions of ourselves, and that these are often re-internalized in a way that further alters our mood and our attitudes.
We don’t need to tell you how vital energy is to the well-being and success of your organization. Energy is that hard-to-define feeling that grants any given individual the motivation and willingness to push forward with passion and a drive to succeed, and is key to our long-term sustainability, both as individuals as well as a collective unit of workers and professional colleagues. With boundless energy, we show excitement for our work and it feels like the sky’s the limit when it comes to what we can achieve. While we can get work done without energy, that work is often pulled out of us rather than being given willingly, which leaves us feeling demotivated and–over time–leads to burnout, mental anguish, and organizational distress. So how can your organization keep your team energized and working together happily and passionately?
We don’t need to tell you how vital energy is to the well-being and success of your organization. Energy is that hard-to-define feeling that grants any given individual the motivation and willingness to push forward with passion and a drive to succeed, and is key to our long-term sustainability, both as individuals as well as a collective unit of workers and professional colleagues.
Out of all the FISH! Philosophy's core pillars, the concept of Play is–perhaps somewhat counter-intuitively–often the most challenging for organizations and employees to wrap their minds around and to commit to integrating into their workplace culture. This idea of Play is often very inviting at first; after all, who doesn’t like the idea of their work day being a little bit more fun? But as people dig into the idea, we hear a common refrain: “what we do here is far too serious for us to be playing around.” And hey, we totally get it. When you’ve got big ideas, big goals, and are serious about doing good in the world, it can feel weird to be told to Play more.
On the surface, most hospitals more or less look the same, don’t they? And yet, somehow they just feel different, whether from hospital to hospital or even just ward to ward. Think about that a little bit: even two hospitals with the same sterile walls and chaotic hustle-bustle can feel entirely distinct from each other, just based on the vibes you get from the staff attending to your care. Are the nurses and doctors walking around tensely, taking down every measurement just right but leaving you feeling cold, in the dark, or not quite cared for? Or are they doing that same accurate medical work, but with a sense of human connection and genuine joyfulness that not only makes you feel like you’re in safe hands, but brightens your spirits and pushes you to keep moving forward towards recovery? That’s the difference that organizational culture can bring to even the most otherwise-competent healthcare facility.
If words can shape our attitude, ask yourself this: “Is my attitude helping my team or my customers? Is it helping me to be the person I want to be?” Be the spark, the living invitation. With your words. Because they matter. Scientific American spoke with Lera Boroditsky, a cognitive scientist at the University of California, San Diego, about why words matter and how language changes our perceptions of the world. “Words have power. If I tell you this hamburger is 80% lean as opposed to 20% fat, then in some sense I am communicating the same thing. But what people get from those two communications is very different: People perceive the 80% lean hamburger as much healthier than the 20% fat option. By choosing how you frame and talk about something, you are cuing others to think about it in a specific way. We can drastically change someone’s perspective by how we choose to talk about and frame something.”
“Words – so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.”
American novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne (The Scarlet Letter) wrote that in the mid-1800’s, but he certainly recognized the power of words. The weight of words. How they make us feel, about ourselves, and the world around us. Words can fuel hopes and dreams. Or extinguish them. Words can excite, inspire, elate, sadden, frighten, or anger us. What you say matters. It shapes your environment. Your work. Your life. Words at work Whether we physically go into an office or workplace setting, or work remotely, the fact is most of us spend more hours at work than we do with friends or family. And it’s only natural to want that time to be the happiest – and most productive – it can possibly be.