Humans are driven by emotions. We like to think that we use our logical mind to make decisions on the important aspects of life. But when we weigh up the pros and cons of the decisions we make – buying a home, choosing a holiday destination, or hiring a staff member, we do so mostly through use of our emotions. Adults and children alike are all driven by emotions.
As such, our reactions to other people, or our environment, can have far-reaching consequences, both emotionally and physically. Conversely, our influence on those around us, can be high impact. Like the exchange of any currency of value, we can, and certainly do, exchange emotions with other people. When you’re in a bad mood, you’re able to pass on some of that gloom to those around you. The opposite is also true. When you offer kindness, or even a genuine smile, you pass on a piece of happiness. In short, both negativity and positivity are somewhat contagious. This describes the Emotional Economy.
We each have the power to make someone else feel a little, or a lot, happier, as well as a little, or a lot more sad. And after the interaction has passed, our demeanour stays with us as an emotional afterglow. This series of collected daily afterglows are what allows us to decide whether we’ve had a ‘good day’ or a ‘bad day’. We tally up the good and the bad of each day and calculate it as a daily net gain or loss. If we have a net gain of positive interactions, that makes for a good day. In contrast, a distinct lack of positive interactions, or worse the perception of significant negative interactions, amounts to a net loss of positivity and we conclude that it’s been a bad day.
Sadly, for us as humans, we can have a very low threshold for what creates a bad day. We can have many positive experiences in a day and only one negative experience, and that one negative experience can leave us with the impression of our entire day as a ‘bad day’. As adults, we must work hard every day to turn those thoughts around. We plunge into the negative almost subconsciously and then we pass those habits to our children. This leads them to also develop a very low threshold of what constitutes a bad day.
We make conscious choices as to whether to give or receive money in exchange for goods or services. We are far less aware of our choices in giving and receiving emotions. Although we are often less aware of our power to choose what we give or receive emotionally, the power does exist within each of us.
So, we have a challenge for your entire family this month. The challenge for each family member is to spend one entire day, from the moment you wake, until the moment you go to sleep that night, sharing only positive emotion with every single person you encounter during that day online, on the phone or in person. Use all available means you have to provide a positive experience to those with whom you interact – family, friends and strangers alike.
It can be as simple as smiling. It can be more involved such as expressing generosity, empathy, or actually being helpful by doing things before you are asked to do so. At the end of the day, as you drift off to sleep, be aware of how you feel. Ask yourself, was today a ‘good day’ or a ‘bad day’? You will be amazed. The more you do this, the more ‘good days’ you will have. With good days comes happiness and we can certainly all do with a conscious contribution to our own happiness at this time! When thinking about your Emotional Economy, know that you have the choice as to what currency you offer to others and whether you accept their currency in return.