Monday, May 24, 2010

What’s working and how can we do more of it?

When facing challenges we often begin by asking:

What’s broken, and how do we fix it?

We have a problem-seeking mindset that psychologists suggest fits with a predilection for the negative.  We might not think of ourselves as negative people but study after study affirms that we tend to focus on problems rather than "bright spots."

For example a “learn English at home” website lists twenty-four of the most common words used to describe our emotions:

Angry, Annoyed, Appalled, Apprehensive, Ashamed, Bewildered, Betrayed, Confused, Confident, Cheated, Cross, Depressed, Delighted, Disappointed, Ecstatic, Excited, Emotional, Envious, Embarrassed, Furious, Frightened, Great, Happy, Horrified.

Notice anything about the list? 

Only 6 of the 24 most commonly used words to describe our emotions are positive.

One psychologist did a more exhaustive survey and found 558 emotion words – 62% of them were negative.

It shows up in study after study:
  • When people are shown photos of bad and good events – they spend longer looking at the bad.
  • When people learn bad things about others – it sticks more than the good stuff.
  • Customers are more likely to share a bad experience with others.
So when we face challenges our first response is:

What’s broken and how do we fix it?

But what if we began from a different starting point:

What’s working and how can we do more of it?

In a letter to the church in Philippi, Paul wrote:

whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Philippians 4: 8

What in your life is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy?

Take a moment today to consider what’s working and how you can experience more of it!

1 comment:

  1. I am excited, ecstatic, delighted, and happy about your great post and feel confident it'll have a positive effect.

    Thanks for the good reminder, Doug (and Apostle Paul). Complaining and whining, like everything else, can become addictions! But we can be thankful that first century Christians were so constantly annoyed, envious, cross, and contentious, otherwise we wouldn't have most of the epistles.