Imagine living in prehistoric times, and think of two things: 1) a beautiful, sunny day, with enough food and a warm fire in the evening, and 2) trying to make it back to camp, frightened, wary of the encroaching predators that are looking to you to be their next meal.
Since your life literally depends on the proper handling of one of those scenarios, while the other is enjoyable but less vital, it makes sense that negative emotions like fear have a more prominent place in your head than positive emotions. Sadly, millions of years later, the human brain is still wired that way.
“That’s how memories are stored in our brain, going back to the caveman days. We tend to remember the negative more than then positive,” said Vicki Hargrove, author of the book “Make Someone Smile” and one of the featured presenters at the upcoming RPI Annual Conference, April 30 to May 2 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Hargrove’s presentation, entitled “The Science of Happiness” explores what motivates people to do the things that they do, or fail to do. Why do some people perform beyond expectations and others below expectations? All of these actions are coordinated, controlled and regulated by an organ about the size of a small head of cauliflower – the brain. Hargrove strives to help attendees learn how they can help your employees “re-wire” their brains so that they are more positive about their work and their organization.
“It’s nothing Orwellian, we’re trying to make connections and foster engagement,” Hargrove said. “Workers with a positive attitude have a more positive experience at work, and that attitude pays benefits, for the employee and for the employer, when someone believes in what they’re doing and feels they’re part of the bigger picture in the workplace.”
Attitudes come from different places, Hargrove said. About 50 percent of a person’s outlook is genetic, 10 percent is environmental and 40 percent comes from the inside – how we react to what’s around us. She uses the example of asking hypothetically what someone would do with a million dollars. If they answer with dreams of trips and toys, their attitude is generally positive. If they make note that they would have to pay the taxes on that windfall, their attitude is more negative.
Hargrove is a Certified Recognition Professional who spent much of her career with Cargill, based in Minnesota, and retired in 2011 to start her own business, Hargrove Business Consulting. Based in Florida, she works with business to help them foster positive, productive attitudes among their workers, and always has a receptive audience in her grandchildren, who know grandma’s first question every time they meet will be:
“What did you do today to make someone smile?”
For more information on the 2017 RPI conference and a full schedule, please visit the official event website.