Last week, my kids went back to school. They had a great summer – in many ways similar to most American kids. They visited with grandparents and relatives that they do not see often enough. They traveled to several places for long weekends. Driving in a minivan that comes close to an RV — that sure made the trips a lot easier than when I was a kid. They attend many camps – and learned, in a playful manner, all kinds of new skills. At the end of their first week this past weekend, they were excited to be back in school, and I could tell just how energized they were to return this week. Yes summer was great, but it ended just time for them to miss it, and not get bored of it. This observation stimulated this week’s blog. Working adults – how do we maintain that passion for our work? How do we not let stress creep in? The traditional answers are always about physical fitness (go to the gym 3-5 times a week), and work at the “work/life balance” thing. While these are good plans, they’re the routine. And routines can get old and boring.
I’d like to suggest a few simple EQ ideas to keep the love for life and work going. These are in addition to, not in lieu of, many of the things you may perhaps already be doing. These are all free, simple, and not very time consuming.
- Emotionally connect with at least one human being at work each day. What does that mean? Simply, have a meaningful conversation with someone. Learn more about them, their families, their lives, their hobbies … you’ll be amazed at how much of your own stress you can reduce by this activity.
- Do something good so that no one knows except you. It may be as simple as letting someone cut in front of you while you are driving, or leaving a Starbucks gift card on someone’s desk. Do this once a week. This is simply an extension to the “my good deed for the day” mantra.
- Finally, find something to PLAY with. Take 10 minutes and just play. Play in the shower in the morning by singing, put on your favorite song in the car on the way to work and sing out to it, make progress on some hobby you’re working on, take your team to lunch outside your offices …. just play.
You will FEEL good, others will FEEL good, and these feelings can dilute negative endorphins immensely. Stress is not just about being phyiscally fit or “fixing things” when they are broken. In the wellness model, stress is also about continuously adding to your positive emotions. During times of stress, it is the amount of positive endorphins that will dictate (more so than any other single element) how well you will deal with stress. Your emotions can trump your IQ anytime, any day, and anywhere. Rationalizing yourself out of a stressful situation actually only compounds the stress. Practicing the elements of emotional intelligence will get you out of your negative state infinitely faster. No wonder kids do it better than adults.