ISSUE 73 ISSN 1712-468

I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be, for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances.

Martha Washington
Wife of George Washington 
1732 – 1802

Diversity is the one true thing we all have in common. 
Celebrate it every day.


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This Week´s Inspiration

Hey—Lighten Up, Will You?!

Cheerful: having or showing good spirits; pleasant and bright

Pleasant: giving pleasure; agreeable; marked by pleasing behavior

Is it just me or have you noticed a general increase in aggression and irritability at home, school, and work? 

I debated about writing this ezine about the behaviors we want to avoid—impatience, anger, antagonism, hostility—or the character traits we want to move toward and embrace—joy, calmness, pleasantness, and cheerfulness. In the end, they are the opposite sides of the same coin.

If you had the choice to deal with a happy individual versus an argumentative individual, whom would you prefer? The answer is obvious—but how often have we engaged the latter! 

Hey, everyone. Will you lighten up—please? We are taking ourselves way too seriously. There are several potential reasons for this, which I will outline in a minute.

As usual, I am writing this ezine from personal experience. I grew up in an environment of constant conflict—not violent but nevertheless the atmosphere was not cheerful or pleasant. On top of that, I was born with an intense personal style. I would react and easily get hooked emotionally to specific events.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t ever become upset or hold individuals accountable for their unwanted or undesired behavior, but we do allow many things to boil our blood pressure when there is no need to do so.

When you get hooked, you get taken out of the game and your emotions can escalate you to risky levels. Why do you think the most dangerous calls police officers attend are domestic disputes? They are usually pure emotion—lacking in rational behavior.

Over the years I have developed my skills and thinking to become a more amenable person. Here are some examples.

  • When I first started conducting workshops 17 years ago, I wanted participants to sit in specific seats and got upset when they did not follow directions carefully. My emotional response lowered my ability to serve the entire group. Over time I lightened up. And guess what? The workshops got better and, in the end, the results improved. Adults will make their own seating choices. What was my big deal?
  • A few years ago, I spent 40 hours writing a final paper for my Master’s degree. By accident, I deleted the entire file. I had no backup. No hard copy. All of it was gone. There was no other choice but to start over. Rather than get upset, I remained as calm as possible while I stayed up all night rewriting the paper. I now laugh about that day. I learned about backups in a hurry.
  • Over the past few years, I have learned to be more lighthearted around my family. I admit I have let them irritate me. That was my issue, not theirs. I now generally accept them for who they are and don’t let their behaviors take me out.
  • In business, I have shifted most of my response to poor customer service from anger and antagonism to a courteous, determined resolve. I know it’s hard to believe, but I can actually be playful while I hold someone accountable for poor service.
    Recently, several fraudulent charges landed on one of my charge cards. After 20+ minutes on hold, I did not lose my cool. Once I got someone on the line, I made a joke about the fact that I had been holding so long, I was now retired. I believe the willingness of the Visa voice to take care of all my needs was encouraged by my pleasant attitude. 

Simply put—competent and pleasant individuals will attract a like responsive from others. 

Over the years, my experience has taught me that many individuals who cannot lighten up have unresolved issues. That can be from past hurts, conflict, lack of worthiness, low self-worth, insecurities, immaturity, lack of skills, and a host of other reasons. Chances are that you have met individuals who would rather die than be congenial. I encourage you that this mindset is not where you want to spend your life. 

The ability to lighten up and be pleasant is your responsibility! Yes, there are circumstances where being cheerful is not appropriate but that is more rare than common.

By being more positive and amiable, you can achieve the following success.

  • Attract deeper and more responses from others
  • Lower your stress levels
  • Enjoy increased wellness
  • Increase your personal fulfillment
  • Be asked to contribute more
  • Be able to contribute more
  • Reduce behavioral regret
  • Make a greater difference in other people’s lives

When Steve Nash won MVP for the NBA last year, the sportscasters commented on how nice and pleasant he was—yet he is known as one of the fiercest competitors in the league. Success does not require you to be mean spirited and abusive. In fact victory is sweeter when mixed with the maturity of being light-hearted and relaxed.

Honestly, what would others say about you? Do you need to lighten up in some areas of your life? 

As mentioned earlier, your ability to lighten up is a personal development matter—generally not a reflection of your circumstances. To help you on this journey, we suggest the following CRG resources: Stress Indicator and Health Planner, Self Worth Inventory, Values Preference Indicator, and Personal Style Indicator.

I admit I still have work to do but I am much more pleasant than ever before, especially under stressful circumstances. Oddly enough, I find that approach much more effective than the alternative. I trust that you—and those that you lead—do, too.

This Week´s Action Steps

Hey—Will You Lighten Up?!

  1. What would others say about you? Are you pleasant and cheerful or something else?
  2. Are there areas in your life where you get hooked? Can you make the choice to lighten up? List the situations where you get hooked and where you want to improve.
  3. Review your new list. Best you can, determine why you are getting hooked. Get assistance from a coach or counselor, if needed.
  4. Review your list, one item at a time, outlining what your hooked response (not being pleasant) is costing you—in relationships, physical and mental stress, personal productivity, and fulfillment. Be as real as you can. Denial will only cost you.
  5. Ask a supporter to help you acknowledge more opportunities where you can lighten up—emotions can sometime blind our skills of observation.
  6. Stress reduces your ability to lighten up, so complete the 120 question Stress Indicator and Health Planner to determine where you can increase your overall wellness.
  7. To better understand other factors that contribute to your emotional response, complete the Self Worth Inventory, Values Preference Indicator, and Personal Style Indicator.
  8. Make a choice to lighten up more. Start with something simple and easy for you. Notice how much better you feel by being pleasant.
  9. Notice the response you get from individuals when you are cheerful. Enjoy the positive impression you make and the overall experience. Pay attention to the constructive impact that that approach and mindset have on you and others. 
  10. If you are in a work environment where people can’t lighten up, do what you can to limit your exposure. Or find a place that doesn’t take itself so seriously. Apply this to friendships, too.
  11. Don’t sweat the small stuff. By the way, most of it is small stuff.

Until next time, keep Living On Purpose!.

Ken Keis

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