By Author, Tom Klobucher
Title: Transformational Relationships
Have you ever noticed how kids can unearth the fun in surroundings that adults take way too seriously? The children I know seem to be preprogrammed to see the potential for amusement in every situation—and do their best to exploit that potential. I’ll bet the kids in your life are like that, too. Wouldn’t it be great to continue living that way—for the trajectory of your life to be one of happiness, rather than the opposite?
In this world, there is undeniable anguish, sickness, and loss. But there is also joy, growth, and potential! In a word, there is possibility, and transformation is the gateway to enter into that possibility.
I would like to share with you five values of transformational individuals. You likely know at least some people who live in a way that lines up with these values. Spend more time with them, and you—like Bob—may find that the silver lining in life glitters more and more!
TRANSFORMATIONAL VALUE #1: A POSITIVE ATTITUDE
Research has shown that having a positive attitude is associated with numerous benefits. The Mayo Clinic indicates that the health benefits of positive thinking include increased life span, lower rates of depression, lower levels of distress, greater resistance to the common cold, better psychological and physical well-being, reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease, and better coping skills during hardships and times of stress. (See https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/positive-thinking/art-20043950?pg=1)
If you’re like me, you’re saying, “Sign me up!” But how do we sign up? How do we transform ourselves from people who may often be overwhelmed by negativity in our thought processes into those who see the glass as perpetually half full—or better?! That’s a great question, and it brings us to the next value.
TRANSFORMATIONAL VALUE #2: GRATITUDE
Transformational people embrace gratitude in their lives and express it regularly.
Now, just about everyone would like to be more grateful, but how do we get there?
What if I told you that you could get started on becoming a happier, more grateful person by spending a few minutes a day completing a simple exercise? Would you do it?
Consider what some experts on gratitude found:
In one study on gratitude, conducted by Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., at the University of California at Davis and his colleague Mike McCullough at the University of Miami, randomly assigned participants were given one of three tasks. Each week, participants kept a short journal. One group briefly described five things they were grateful for that had occurred in the past week, another five recorded daily hassles from the previous week that displeased them, and the neutral group was asked to list five events or circumstances that affected them, but they were not told whether to focus on the positive or on the negative. Ten weeks later, participants in the gratitude group felt better about their lives as a whole and were a full 25 percent happier than the hassled group. They reported fewer health complaints, and exercised an average of 1.5 hours more.
In a later study by Emmons, people were asked to write every day about things for which they were grateful. Not surprisingly, this daily practice led to greater increases in gratitude than did the weekly journaling in the first study. But the results showed another benefit: Participants in the gratitude group also reported offering others more emotional support or help with a personal problem, indicating that the gratitude exercise increased their goodwill towards others, or more technically, their “pro-social” motivation. (See https://www.dailygood.org/story/578/the-neuroscience-of-why-gratitude-makes-us-healthier-ocean-robbins/)
Did you notice that people who took a few minutes at the end of the day to express gratitude actually became significantly happier? And that’s not all! Their gratitude overflowed into expressions of support and goodwill toward others.
TRANSFORMATIONAL VALUE #3: LIFETIME LEARNING
Everywhere I look, I see messages describing the magic of retirement, with its promises of comfort, relaxation, and endless fun. With so many of us advancing in age, it makes sense for us to engage in responsible planning for our financial futures, but I sometimes get to thinking about the images that the retirement-planning industry flashes before our eyes.
Most of these images seem to feature people of an advanced age connecting with others in the same stage of life, embarking on a journey of ease and never-ending leisure—collecting shells, playing golf, and just generally enjoying themselves in the company of others who are similarly devoted to sampling the best that life has to offer. The insulation from the cares of younger generations seems to be total, as does the disconnect from the issues facing the world.
Of course, none of the activities these elderly actors are filmed engaging in are wrong in and of themselves, but I wonder about the dream that we are being asked to embrace. Is this an accurate vision of life in one’s later years? Is this really what we should all be aspiring to? Too often, I’ve seen friends and acquaintances buy into this dream, only to find themselves entangled in a string of monotonous days filled with television, immobility, sickness, and sadness.
There’s a better way to live! I’ve come to believe that people have a fundamental need to continue to learn and connect with others—particularly with those from other generations—for the duration of their lives.
And I’m not alone. Research demonstrates the substantial positive results of being a lifetime learner. For example, those who embrace the challenge of learning new skills in their sixties and beyond reap benefits like delayed onset of Alzheimer’s disease, reduced dependence on welfare support, and genuine happiness. (See http://www.theguardian.com/adult-learning/lifelong-learning-key-to-happiness)
So turn off the TV! Start taking guitar lessons, sign up for a computer class, or read about a subject you’ve never given much thought to. And be sure to share what you’re learning with others to multiply the sense of happiness and energy resulting from the new discoveries of transformational living.
And to my youthful readers, I say: Don’t buy into the myth of decades of carefree living in your later years! Instead, why not prepare yourself to be respected and sought out in times to come as a valuable source of knowledge and insight? Why not set yourself on a path that will have you viewed by others as a sage mentor?
TRANSFORMATIONAL VALUE #4: BEING FULLY ENGAGED IN YOUR WORK AND LIFE
If you’re with me so far—if you’re feeling skeptical about the vision of pursuing several decades alternating between shuffleboard and buffets in your later years—I’m guessing it’s not much of a leap from there to start being fully engaged in your work and life, right here and right now. Yes. You know where I’m going with this. I’m talking about creating the kind of work that you wish to be engaged in—and then fully embracing it! No one can possibly do that but you.
I enjoy telling people that since I started my company almost forty years ago, I haven’t worked a day in my life. Their eyes often register doubt, so I go on: “What I do at the office isn’t work. It’s fun!”
It’s the truth, and it’s my sincere desire that everyone find the kind of fulfillment and excitement that I’ve found professionally.
And by the way, this is not just because I’m the CEO. I loved my work when I was cleaning the kitchen and making photocopies, too. So many seem to dread the period of our career when we’re learning fundamental service skills, how to partner with others, and the joy of a job that is done to the very best of our ability. What a shame! These are potentially the most valuable years of our professional development.
When I think about my professional journey, I often remember my father’s words to me. When I was a young boy, he often told me, “Find a good job…and make it better. That way you will always enjoy your work.”
So no matter what your work is, I ask you: Whose socks can you knock off today? Which of your coworkers can you help to succeed in an above-and-beyond sort of way? How can you push someone else to shine in front of the management or the customers?
I realize these aren’t the kinds of questions everyone in the workplace is asking, but everything I’ve experienced and heard during the course of my career tells me that if you embrace this outlook on work, you will soon find yourself having fun with your colleagues. You will accomplish great things together! The transition from drudgery to fun—from coping to achievement—is beyond thrilling. It’s transformational!
TRANSFORMATIONAL VALUE #5: EXCITEMENT FOR THE FUTURE
We’ve seen how a person can unleash the power of positive thinking through the regular practice of gratitude. We’ve considered the benefits of committing to a lifetime of learning. We’ve talked about how engagement can have a positive impact in one’s work and life.
All of these transformational values lead very naturally to the last one I want to discuss here: excitement for the future. When a person decides to live in line with transformational values today, it is entirely reasonable for that person to expect great things in the future.
That is why I love the future—and why I prefer to spend time with others who love the future, too!
If you do, I’m confident that you’ll see transformation in your life and in the lives of those around you.
“All things are possible until they are proven impossible.”
―Pearl S. Buck
Author, Tom Klobucher
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