In a recent conversation, a good friend of mine was sharing the details of her previous day. She said it was a day filled with all kinds of very different and unanticipated challenges – both on the personal and professional fronts. This was very different from her normal day. She was able to get through the day successfully but was totally exhausted. I told her she had a great day. My valuation of her day surprised her and she asked: How could that possibly be a great day?
From an EQ perspective, we all know there is a broad spectrum of emotions we can feel in any given day. Everything from feeling happy and joyful to feeling sad and hurt, to all the ones in between them. A boring day, in my opinion, is when we feel just one emotion, or the same emotion throughout the day. On days like this, from a neuroscience perspective, the stimuli to our senses were not sufficiently powerful enough to make glands secrete hormones that would vary our emotional temperature, and consequently, create any new neuropathways. The latter means no new thinking really happened and the cognitivie capacity of our brain was stagnant. When this happens, we do not learn and we do not grow – age-old signs of a dying species.
A good day on the other hand is when there is either one singular memorable experience (which is hard to have on a daily basis) or one with a varying degree of emotions triggered by all kinds of new stimuli (alot easier to orchestrate). On days like these, from a neuroscience perspective, all kinds of new pathways are being formed to decipher the new stimuli, and figure out the appropriate responses. This “cognitive exercise” – like other forms of exercise (eg physical) – induces a kind of awares that invites creative thought (new pathways) and release of hormones that are generally in the optimism family of emotions.
This week, look at your calendar. Pick out a day when you can proactively induce a myriad of stimuli. These can be talking to very different people, changing the environment of engagement, changing the tools you use, wearing something different – anything you can think of that is out of the normal routine. At the end of the day, assess your emotional and congitive temperatue. Like my friend, you are likely to feel exhausted. But that is a sign that you have lived that day, and it is highly likely that you will have a huge positive impact on those you have come in contact with.