I’m an entrepreneurial newbie. Everything is new, the to-do list never ends and obstacles, I’m learning, are seamlessly interwoven into the fabric of business ownership.
While I have so much to share in terms of what I’ve learned so far, this one piece of research is what I feel the most on fire about sharing with anyone else who will listen. It has deeply affected the way I, as a human being, approach adversity in my business and in my life.
The Broaden and Build Theory of Positive Emotion suggests that when we experience positive emotions (happiness, joy, interest, anticipation) it broadens our awareness, and encourages novel, varied and exploratory thoughts and actions. It basically helps create laundry lists of solutions.
The theory also suggests that negative emotions serve the opposite function of positive ones. When threatened with negative emotions like anxiety, fear, frustration, or anger, the mind constricts and focuses in on the imposing threat (real or imagined), it limits one’s ability to be open to new ideas and build resources and relationships.
Think about this… finding the solution to any of the obstacles you are facing in work or in life may be as simple as getting happy.
When I am grinding away at a problem feeling stuck and like I am getting nowhere, (my husband describes this as “driving with the emergency brake on”) and I become aware of what I am doing, the first thing I do is stop. I step away from the computer, get off the phone, stop whatever it is that I am doing. IT’S NOT WORKING. The next thing I do is check in with myself and see if my basic physical needs are met. Do I need food? Sleep? Exercise? Meditation? Do I need to pee? (Seriously… I am becoming notorious for holding it. And if you're laughing right now, I KNOW you’ve done this too)
The next thing I do once my basic physical needs are met is I think about how I can get into a more broadened place before continuing.
Taking my dog on a walk is my go to. He encourages me to stay present, and to bask in the simplicity of the present moment. I feel joy when I watch him greet every person he meets with openness and unbridled enthusiasm. It also allows me to see the best in others that I may never talk to in any other circumstance. One other way I can elicit joy is to revisit the manifesto I wrote during the Bold Business Course in The Collective (of Us) It serves as my true north and keeps me in fierce alignment with why I’m doing what I’m doing.
I will write a gratitude list and send it off to a friend. I have so much to be grateful for and it is helpful to remember and acknowledge the most basic things. I can easily take for granted those things that allow me to be here, in this body with the agency to do the work I am doing and show up for the people I know and love and ones that I have yet to know and love. Research shows that people who are consistently grateful are happier, more energetic and more hopeful. They also experience less depression, anxiety, loneliness, envy and neurosis. I also try to always put my obstacles on my gratitude list. They are ALWAYS my biggest teachers, and THAT is something to be grateful for.
One last thing I do is I practice positively anticipating the future by visioning it. Not just what I want to accomplish, but how I want to feel.
I do this by writing what I would like my life to look like a year from now, 5 years from now, 10 years etc. This creates a sense of hope for all that is to come.
So there it is. Take what you like. The world needs you and needs your unique contribution more than ever.
When you feel stuck, just plain out of ideas and/or need a creative way out, broadening your state can offer the way through.
Obstacles are just a part of the path, getting stuck doesn’t have to be. If we welcome them and learn from them we can feel greater satisfaction in the process.
To learn more about Broaden and Build Theory, check out Positivity by Barbara Fredrickson.
About the Author
Nicole Cichocki is a hair stylist, educator and Healing Touch Certified Practitioner from New York City. It has been her dream to create a company like Truth, Beauty, and Goodness where she is blending the craft of hairdressing and the art of energy medicine to awaken beauty inside and out.