“Hey, how ya doing?”
“Who, me? Well I guess I am okay, except for this COVID thing. Oh, and my revenues are in the tank, prospects for the next year kind of suck and the pipeline doesn’t inspire much confidence. I have been stuck in the house for eight months and I have a funky skin “mask rash” I’m dealing with, but I have gotten to know my family really, really well! Come to think of it…that isn’t such a good thing either. Did I mention the presidential election? I heard a vaccine might be out just in time for the next pandemic to hit! Wait…what was the question again?”
Does this conversation sound familiar? I know I have asked or been asked this a few thousand times since March. Quite honestly, I can’t say my answer, many times, was much different. How ’bout you?
The fact is, our brains are tuned into a system that is driven by the negative. Our subconscious is very powerful. This part of our brain floats under the surface of our conscious brain and is in charge of 95% of our decisions, actions and emotions! ?
The first step is to recognize that our brain’s main responsibility is to keep us safe. This is our “dino brain” in full effect, wired millions of years ago when our lives were consistently being threatened. Today we aren’t faced with a sabre-toothed tiger attack very often (unless you have made Tommy Lasorda very unhappy ?) but our subconscious brains are always working in “safety first” mode.
Just knowing this puts us in a position to think a little bit before we act –understanding that with simple steps and practice, we can build pathways in our subconscious to pave the way for more positive outcomes.
Let’s start by changing all of your daily greetings from “How are you doing?” to “Tell me something good!”
Greeting folks with the former is allowing their subconscious brain to rally the ever present negative thoughts. That greeting is inviting those thoughts to come out and dominate the rest of your conversation. ? However, the “Tell Me Something Good” request requires their brain to switch off the negative brain bias and focus on a positive response.
I have been preaching and teaching this simple tip to all of my virtual audiences since March. The responses have been overwhelming. After speaking to the Bellarmine University’s athletic department, I received a wonderful handwritten letter from Abby, an assistant basketball coach and a former standout collegiate basketball player in Kentucky. Here is a excerpt from her letter, which made my whole week:
I took your advice and asked some of my colleagues and friends to “Tell Me Something Good” instead of the traditional “How’s it going?” You were absolutely right! It’s hard for people to focus on the positive. I want to make a commitment to do this every day as I believe it will challenge those around me to think more positively!
Make a commitment today to develop new daily habits that force your subconscious brain to build positive pathways. Remember your happiness is up to you. It is difficult to change habits while your brain is fighting against you, but with daily practice, you can build long-term sustainable happiness in your life. Maybe it can even help you with that mask rash! ?
What can we do to help our subconscious drive more positive actions?