- On May 31, 2017
I’ve been conducting a little experiment on myself. Every morning for the last two weeks, I wake up and say, out loud, “It’s going to be an awesome-sauce*day”.
No matter what’s on the schedule.
No matter how ‘behind’ I feel.
No matter how complex and seemingly unsolvable is the challenge in my day.
My unscientific result? The positive words make a difference!
The work is the same. However my enjoyment—and capacity to handle it–is totally different. And while I haven’t measured it, I’ll wager I got the same amount—or even more—actually done on my ‘awesome sauce’ days than on the mornings I begin with a feeling of dread or overwhelm.
Setting my positive intent up front shifts how I view the world that day. Anticipating that my day is going to be awesome keeps my gremlins at bay. (You know “gremlins”, those voices in your head that tell you to be hyper vigilant, or super analytical, or in my case, super perfectionist.)
When I set the intent that it’s going to be an awesome day, I am far less stressed about trying to control everything. I take it all in stride without worry and at the end of the day, I feel like I’ve accomplished SO much.
There’s brain science behind that. Your brain doesn’t know the story around what we have to do; we create that. “Oh, it’s going to be so hard…or take so long….or such a challenge.” That’s a story we let our minds create and it colors how our brain responds. We created this story that something or someone will be difficult and our brain triggers on this potential threat, increasing our stress responses.
If we view the same list of To Dos and tell ourselves it will be awesome, the brain has nothing threatening to trigger on.
In their book Words Can Change Your Brain, authors Andrew Newberg, M.D. and Mark Robert Waldman indicate that positive words strengthen the frontal lobes of the brain where our decision-making, logic, and reasoning happen. Negative words, on the other hand, increase Amygdala activity, which is our threat-detection center, stimulating an increase in stress-related chemicals, dampening the effectiveness of our frontal cortex’s higher executive functioning and alerting the whole body that there is something to be on guard about.
The words we use matter. An event is just an event. We create a positive or negative response depending on what story we tell ourselves.
Try the experiment for yourself and see if it changes how you feel about what you get done. “OMG, I am dreading today” or “Today is going to be awesome” (or your positive word of choice).
What did you notice?
* Ok, I could have just said “It’s going to be an awesome day” but I’ve always liked that cute Discover Card commercial with the twins who say “awesome sauce” and one of my fave flavors for burgers and the like is Big Riggs Awesome Sauce (a cross between Buffalo Wing Sauce and Ranch dressing), available from Calvin Riggelman “Big Riggs” farm stand at the Saturday Alexandria VA Farmers Market.
Photo credit: JMaliszewski, 2017.