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Brute Force Positive Thinking

Thursday, February 19, 2009 by Slaughter Development

Gretchen Rubin is running The Happiness Project at Slate.com, a new blog focused on upbeat thinking. This week, she offers nine tips for dealing with a “happiness emergency.”

Her advice column opens with an fairly typical recommendation, but it is backed by science in an unexpected manner:

Boost your energy: Stand up and pace while you talk on the phone or, even better, take a brisk 10-minute walk outside. Research shows that when people move faster, their metabolism speeds up, and the activity and sunlight are good for your focus, your mood, and the retention of information. Plus, because of emotional contagion, if you act energetic, you’ll help the people around you feel energetic, too.

It might sound silly to add some physical activity to a frustrating day at the office, since a walk outside will only delay your progress and cause your workload to build up even further. However, if you follow the suggestion carefully, the biochemical benefits of a little exercise will help to improve your productivity once you sit back down again. By investing even a few minutes of conscious thought in improving your well-being, you can have even greater returns on the rest of your day.

Even more important to the larger organization is the phenomenon of emotional contagion. Feelings, both positive and negative, have a tendency to spread between people during social interactions. Wikipedia explains this further:

Unlike cognitive contagion, emotional contagion is less conscious and more automatic. It relies mainly on non-verbal communication, although it has been demonstrated that emotional contagion can, and does, occur via telecommunication. For example, people interacting through Emails and “chats” are affected by the other’s emotions, without being able to perceive the non-verbal cues.

Slaughter Development is not in the happiness business, but satisfaction at work is a key indicator and effective predictor of workplace productivity. The Methodology Blog has already reviewed how emotions impact the job recruitment market both for frustrated employees as well as eager candidates. People with the worst jobs are often having the most fun. Slaughter Development believes in a direct relationship between happiness and productivity, and when an organization empowers employees to manage their own tactical needs, both satisfaction and output increase tremendously. If you are unhappy at work today, try one of Gretchen Rubin’s nine tips. If you agree that there is a fundamental connection between morale and effectiveness, contact Slaughter Development to find ways to improve your organization.

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Like this post? Here are some related entries from The Methodology Blog you might enjoy:

Self-Control is Contagious! - Trying to stay focused at work? Want to avoid eating that extra piece of cake? Science now says: try thinking about people with better self-control than you. Read on »
Drawing is Thinking - A video of the famed graphic designer Milton Glaser is floating around the web lately. The title and the topic is powerful: “Drawing is Thinking.” Read on »
How and Why to Meet - As part of The Happiness Project, author Gretchen Rubin has put together a list of tips for running good meetings. But are these simple suggestions enough to positively influence workplace productivity? Read on »
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