There was a terrific TED* talk this year about how much time most of us spend sitting. The speaker pointed out that the average person sits 9.3 hours a day–more than we sleep, even. And people with desk jobs may sit as much as 15 hours day! The speaker was Nilofer Merchant, and she proclaimed “sitting is the new smoking,” and explained about the health ramifications of that (which should be fairly obvious, yet here we sit).
At a dental convention recently, one of the speakers, Juli Kagan, demonstrated her solution to the sitting problem in the dental practice. She has a terrific book on the subject where she incorporates Pilates into our daily sitting routine. The book is called Mind Your Body: Pilates for the Seated Professional. You can find Julie’s book here. What Juli told me that I thought was most profound was that “posture is not so much a physical thing as a mental thing.” Her point was posture is something that we have to continually monitor, essentially catching ourselves slouching in our chair, or hunching over a laptop, or all the other awkward positions we subject our bodies to. And gradually we’ll train ourselves to stop.
When she said this, it immediately made me think about how important it is to do the same kind of monitoring with our attitude. It’s so easy to slide into negativity in the course of our day. We are bombarded with bad news, problems, challenges, and people with bad attitudes themselves. (Often these are patients, but sometimes they are the team members.) I have found that a good attitude is a choice, and from that choice positivity spreads, and positive results appear. And a bad attitude has the exact opposite effect.
The problem is that we are talking to ourselves all the time, and way too often that voice has something negative to say, like: “This person is wasting my time,” or “That driver is an idiot,” or “Nobody cares about me.” The list of little negative messages is endless, and if you stop and really listen you’ll be shocked to hear what you tell yourself. And most of the time it’s not a fact, but a negative opinion. It turns us into emotional hunchbacks.
Believe me, I do it too. And everyone around us perceives it and is affected by it, from friends and family to patients and co-workers. The way to change it is to monitor your emotional posture. Do it with your team in the morning huddle, and then do it throughout the day. If you find yourself about to contribute something negative, like “people don’t respect our time,” switch it to “people are busier than ever–we need to adjust our behavior.” The more you do that emotional reset with your negative thoughts, the lighter you will feel.
And if someone on your team insists on staying negative, I talk in a previous blog about what to do.
This is the simple truth: in almost every situation, your attitude affects the outcome. So make it a habit to check your emotional posture. You’ll notice almost immediately that people will respond differently, and best of all, you’ll enjoy your day a whole lot more.
*If you’ve never heard of TED, it’s an annual conference where thought leaders from all walks of life come and share their ideas. Their motto is “Ideas Worth Spreading”. There are hundreds of videos on virtually every topic. They are inspiring, enlightening and often moving, and they will make you believe that a better world is coming and that people are working hard to achieve that. I highly recommend visiting their site and watching at least one video a week as a cure for negativity. You can watch Ms. Merchant’s three-minute video here.
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