What are you cultivating?

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Over the weekend, we did our first bit of spring yardwork. While weeding, I was struck by how good our soil is; dark, rich earth, with lots of worms and other happy creatures. It is the perfect environment for lovely things to grow and flourish.

This observation led me to recall an interview with writer and “The List” app inventor, BJ Novak. In that conversation, he discussed how much effort he spends getting into a good mood before starting work each day. He went on to say it was incredibly difficult to write good comedy from a bad mood.

As I listened to his interview, I realized I had never heard anyone talk about the importance of getting into a good mood for work. Perhaps it seems obvious and no one thinks it needs to be said. I wholeheartedly disagree and want to go on record as saying this is a practice that needs to catch on.

For many of us, our mornings are a symphony of stress; moving from one task to another, just trying to get to work. By the time we arrive, log on, or begin an assignment, we have already experienced a full range of emotions, many of them quite negative. Imagine if you started work each day feeling good (or at least not bad) and looking forward to the day ahead. Feels like it would be a game changer, doesn’t it?

So, what would it take to make this a reality?

  1. Determine what benefit you would get from being in a good mood. Will you be more creative, motivated, productive? Maybe less likely to feel (negatively) sensitive, taking things personally? This step is important because we need a compelling “why” to motivate us and keep us on track when something threatens our efforts.
  2. Assess where your pinch points are. Is it getting ready and out of the house? Your morning commute (when you have one)? It’s helpful to determine where things go wrong, so you know what needs to be adjusted. Are you simply not a morning person? I understand you and can offer this advice that has worked for me – lean into routine so things just flow, and momentum carries you forward. This isn’t the time to get clever or creative and stuff your morning with lots of extras; just get ready and get out (or to your workspace).
  3. Do some problem solving and troubleshooting. Often, it’s the little things that add up to big stress. For me, I can get stuck on getting dressed and lose crucial time. Maybe you adopt some form of a uniform or you prep outfits for a week at a time. What areas of your morning (or evening) routine can be streamlined to help lighten the load?
  4. Have some “go to” entertainment for your prep time and commute that you find enjoyable and uplifting. I personally find any kind of radio stressful in the morning and many people find news to be unconsciously draining. Start paying attention to what you consume and adjust accordingly. If I find myself a little irritable in the morning, I will put on a comedy special as I get ready. Laughter is great morning medicine for us all.
  5. Take time to “decompress” before you start your workday. The goal is to let go of anything unpleasant and clear your emotions before interacting with others or commencing a task. The small act of just sitting and breathing for a couple of minutes can make a big difference. Shake off the “yuck” and give yourself a pep talk if you need to.
  6. Notice the results and make any adjustments or corrections as needed.

So often, we just go through the motions of life, without assessing if something is working for us or not. This is the moment to do something different, cultivating (metaphorical) soil where good health and productivity are no longer an afterthought, but a primary focus. So work that ground and enhance your positivity wherever you can. It might take a little work, but I think a good mood might just be good business.