The meaningful & joyful gifts…that keep on giving!
We are what we put our attention on. Or as writer and philosopher Henry David Thoreau said…”It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” Every day, in our heads and right in front of us, there are all kinds of gifts – ideas, thoughts and human qualities – that we can choose to focus on and experience. Some negative, some positive. Some distressing, some motivating. Some contracting us into anger, some expanding us into hope. Some fuelling hate, some offering love. It is up to us which ‘gifts’ we choose to look at, take in and allow to become part of our moment-to-moment experience.
As human beings, we can be pretty good at absorbing the danger, threats or difficulties around us. There are two things going on here – neurologically and psychologically. We humans have a negative bias. Meaning we are more alert to the negativity in a situation and the potential danger to our survival. All very useful when out on the savannah thousands of years ago and our survival depended on being hypervigilance to threats to our existence. But that same mechanism is not always so helpful when dealing with a disagreement at work. Secondly, we have a strong tendency towards confirmation bias. Once we’ve already decided something is true or real, at an unconscious level we will then gather further evidence to support that belief.
These two things can have a huge impact on our perspective on the world, our experience of ourselves, our feelings about other people and our view on life in general. When times are tough or something challenging happens, it can be easy and automatic to allow feelings of anger or fear or sadness to colour everything and everyone around us. That’s what our autopilot brain does. Look for and gather even more ‘danger cues.’ To flip this and create a more balanced, positive perspective we need to take a moment to start looking for and gathering what we call ‘safety cues.’ Information and evidence that make us feel better, safer, and more connected. In other words, to create a more hopeful, happy experience of life – even when we feel surrounded by sadness or conflict – we need to start consciously looking around our landscapes for other kinds of gifts. Gifts of care, gifts of joy, gift of fun and gifts of hope. They are all there – in the kind act of your work colleague, in the smile of the coffee barista, in the silly tiktok video link your family member sends you. We simply have to switch from our autopilot confirmation bias gatherer and choose to see the other gifts available. Anytime, in any situation, even in the most difficult of circumstances.
Penelope and I lost our father to pancreatic cancer in February this year. And through all the sadness and pain that his death brought to us and our family, I remain so grateful and respectful for who he was and what he gave us. For the way he lived his life and indeed the way he faced the end of his life. The humour, knowledge and curiosity with which he managed his illness to the very last. The love, joy and fun we all still shared through such a tough time.
Perhaps, like me, you have also found yourself having a moment of laughter at the funeral of somebody very close to you. A moment of light in a time of darkness. Because even in the hardest of times there are other gifts available, if we choose to see them.
Equally when dealing with challenges at work or moments of conflict or frustration… the landscape all around you will still be dotted with many other gifts like possibility and kindness. Take a moment to think of a challenging situation and as you are flooded with all the negative feelings and evidence…now shift your focus to other gifts that might be available. The people offering you gifts of love, of learning and even laughter. Perhaps in unexpected places.
So this festive season, as gifts are given and received, we invite you to consciously choose the gifts you look for all around you. And choose the gifts that spread more fun, love, peace, hope and joy. Look for the gifts that mean you are creating the life and the experience you choose. So that – to quote one of the greatest gifts given to me by someone very dear to me before he died – ”…you are happening to the world, rather than the world simply happening to you.”
Here are 5 gifts you might look for this holiday time…
Fun is not just for children. It’s for all of us. Fun and laughter do incredible things to your brain and body. When we embrace the gift of fun and laughter we get a big shot of dopamine to our brain – a kind of reward system that gives us feelings of euphoria and motivation. And the rewards keep coming! More fun and laughter lead to increased immune functioning, stress relief, increased tolerance for pain, better heart health, reduced anxiety, and improved mood. As children we innately look for the fun and laughter. As adults, sometimes we need to more actively look for those moments. So, whether it’s a silly joke, a game, an amusing present, a playful activity…what moments could you consciously seek out, so that the gift of fun becomes an everyday part of your day, month, year – and life?!
4D HumanBeing can help you inject more fun and creativity into your team through our Team Creativity & Collaboration training and into your whole organisation with our fun, engaging Improvisation Keynote to inspire your whole workforce through fast-paced change.
We don’t often allow ourselves to talk about love in the workplace. Yet research tells us that the more employees feel a sense of compassionate love in the workplace the more engaged they are. And the more people feel they work in loving, caring environments, the more they report higher job satisfaction and teamwork. When put together, love and a sense of purpose are the key elements to experience a fulfilling life. It is also reported that a sense of love for our work and colleagues leads to peak performance in individuals. Meaning that love really can lead you and your colleagues to be at your best. So, what J.K. Rowling said really is true… “In the end, love wins. It does win. We know it wins.” How can you look for – and create – the gift of love in the workplace. It’s all about those tiny moments between co-workers…A warm smile, a supportive note, a kind word or a caring ear. How are you giving – and importantly letting in – the gift of love this holiday season…?
Through our Leadership Development training, Diversity and Inclusion programmes and Workplace WellBeing offers, 4D HumanBeing can help you and your people increase the gifts of love, understanding, care and collaboration within your organisation.
I love the saying “You don’t have to turn up to every argument you’re invited to.” And it’s true. We don’t have to be drawn into the dramas around us. We can take a moment, step back and choose to see what other possibilities and responses might be available. It’s such a gift to realise you can choose where you put your energy and whether you pull others into a fight or let others cast you in their own movie of drama and discord. By learning to manage our own trigger responses, fears and defences we can open ourselves up to the wonderful world of more peaceful options – internal peace in our own nervous systems and external peace in our relationships. When we are able to create more internal peace and regulate ourselves and situations, with a deep breath or some time out, we stimulate our glorious ventral vagal system. This is the part of the nervous system that is all about social engagement, connection, safety and flourishing. If you can create even a tiny space between the trigger and your reaction, you have the chance to see the opportunity for harmony and the gift of peace. As someone said to me recently, we don’t have to tear each other apart in any break up or disagreement. There is always another choice. In what situations of discord could you choose to bring the gift of peace right now? With an offer of letting go, or a card of kindness or an acceptance of difference?
Through our Mastering Challenging Conversations Training programmes, 4D HumanBeing can upskill your people to help problems become peaceful, turn hostility to harmony and transform conflict into creativity
Hope is the last thing to die – so the saying goes. Even in the hardest of times, we human beings can still access the gift of hope if we choose to. And it really is a gift. It turns out that feelings of hope release neurochemicals called endorphins and enkephalins into our systems that block pain and accelerate healing. Meaning we can overcome more hurdles and move to a place of recovery. Plus, when we vision a more hopeful future or outcome, we create a new story in our brain. And through research we know that the brain doesn’t recognise the difference between actual events and the narratives we create in our minds. So, when you imagine a more hopeful scenario, your brain and body-mind actually have the experience of this more hopeful perspective – as if it were really happening. Finally, recent studies show that by embracing the gift of hope we reduce anxiety and increase motivation, problem solving and goal-orientated behaviour. Hope really does lead to increased possibilities and tangible, positive outcomes. So what can you hope for this holiday? What situation might turn out better? What might be possible? What dream would you love to come true? Start to imagine it. Write it down. Breathe it in and let the science of hope work its magic for you.
Whether you and your business are going through tough times or managing change our 4D Culture Change programmes and 4D Managing Change keynote will bring your people the hope, clarity, energy and motivation to embrace the potential and possibility ahead.
The emotion of joy can be defined as “a feeling of extreme gladness, delight, or exaltation of the spirit arising from a sense of well-being or satisfaction.” It can be experienced in a passive form – for example when we enjoy watching children play or friends laughing. Or it can be active. This is when joy feels more expansive, and we want to share the feeling of a moment with others, such as the joy of a beautiful view or TV show or book or piece of news. We have placed a lot more emphasis on the more long-term acquisition of happiness which means we often miss moments of joy and find ourselves working in bland environments. Yet moments of joy build to a rich, exuberant experience of daily life. Joy also activates a different part of the brain to happiness. Happiness stimulates the sympathetic nervous system triggering feelings of excitement, energy and activity. Whereas joy activates the parasympathetic nervous system which promotes feelings of peace and calm. Joy can be instant and we can look for moments of joy in the tiniest of moments. The bright colours in our environment, the cartoon mug in the kitchen cupboard, the closeness of a friend or colleague, the cuddle with your pet, the sharing of a recent trip, sending a picture of a frosty sunny morning walk, wearing that silly animal-face bobble hat on your winter walk, the new zesty shampoo fragrance…moments of instant joy are absolutely everywhere if we choose to see and share them. What moment, thing or experience can you appreciate and share with someone to bring more moments of joy bursting into life this holiday?
Check out our 4D Storytelling and 4D Presentation Skills programmes to help your leaders and people craft inspiring stories, messages and visions to spread even more joy within your workplace culture – everyday.