By Vicki Hess
Did you ever do something and then wish you had made a different choice?
Recently, a friend invited me to join her for lunch at a nice restaurant near my home. I was excited to see her and have a nice meal. It turned out that we could order from the menu or have the buffet brunch.
Everyone in our group was having the buffet, so against my better judgment, I chose that too. It went downhill from there.
You probably already know the end of this story. It involves an upset stomach from over-eating and a “food coma."
Now you might be thinking this sounds like a “first-world problem” and indeed it is. But afterward, I was asking myself… “Why didn’t I make a different choice?”
It was a great reminder that I have the power to influence a lot of what happens in my life. And the good news is that you do too!
When things happen around us at work, it’s easy to feel like a victim of circumstances. It’s easy to blame others and forget that we can choose the actions we take in response to those things. For example, have you ever said, “She made me so mad” or “He ruined my day”?
Maybe you hung onto the anger or frustration and took it out on others throughout the course of your day. This is the equivalent of me making bad choices at the buffet and then complaining about it afterward (metaphorically speaking of course).
Feeling angry or frustrated is going to happen.
The choice comes in what you decide to do next.
Once you are more aware that you can select your response to the emotions you experience, you are back in the driver’s seat. You’ve got the power to make a different – more beneficial – choice.
Since it’s November, the month we celebrate Thanksgiving here in the U.S., this is a great time to swap the negative actions that can occur with gratitude. Yes, you read that right. Next time you feel an emotion that you don’t find helpful driving stressful actions, stop and think about what you are grateful for.
This isn’t just a soft and squishy idea. It’s research-based. According to The Neuroscience of Gratitude and How It Affects Anxiety & Grief, “commitment to daily gratitude practice reduces an array of negative emotions and is a natural stress detox for the mind and body.”
Next time something happens that you don’t like – before you take unproductive actions – remember to take a deep breath and think of one thing that you are thankful for…and then think of another and so on.
The knee-jerk choice isn’t always the best one. In the future, I’ll order off the menu or exhibit a little more self-control at the buffet and then I will feel better in the long run.
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