Do not focus primarily on the negative

It’s extremely seductive, when sharing with others about your workday, to focus primarily on the negative. A fairly typical response to the question, “How was your day?” is, “I had a really tough one.”

If you elaborate, it’s likely that you’ll focus on how little time you had, the tough issues and conflicts, problems, difficult people, hassles, your sense of hurry and being rushed, negative employees, all the things that went wrong, and your demanding boss. And to a certain degree, you’re probably right on the mark.

For most people, a typical workday is really tough and often downright exhausting. But is this negative assessment the whole story – or is it only part of it? Are you re-characterizing your day the way it actually was – or are you being selective in what you choose to remember and discuss?

I encourage you to be completely honest with yourself as you ponder the following questions about your latest workday: On your way to work, did you take a lunch break? Was it enjoyable? How was the food? Did you have any stimulating conversations during the day? Any new insights? Did you have chance to express your creativity? Did anyone give you a compliment?

If you answered any of the questions above with a positive response, your day was brightest than a vast majority of the world’s population. This doesn’t mean you should pretend that you had a wonderful day – yet isn’t it easy to take the nice parts of your day completely for granted? We treat them as if they never happened, as if we had no simple pleasures, or conveniences. Indeed, when you examine the above questions, it becomes clear that, for most of us, our day is not entirely negative – or even closer to it. If this is the case, why do we describe it as such?

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