Driven by Drama or Gratitude?

November 15, 2018

Which do you think happens most? Where is your focus?

Do you see the glass half empty or half full? Since it’s the same glass, it really comes down to your perspective.

This month the CATALYST VetPC informal poll asked several questions which could be answered with either a positive answer or a more negative one. We were happy to see roughly 46% replied with a strong positive reaction where only 2% replied with a strong negative one.

One comment made was “at one time the drama [in the clinic] was over 50%, but those employees are no longer with us and peace reigns!”

We’ve heard the phrase “one bad apple can spoil the barrel.” We asked Dr. Carrie McCrudden, Psy.D, psychologist and owner of Colorado Therapy Care, PC in Denver, CO, for her take on this scenario of how one negative person can take the center stage and insert such influence.

She commented that there is no doubt that a negative mindset can be easier. After all, it’s more instinctual to pay attention to stresses and threats around us.

This goes back to the primitive days when we were hunters and gathers. We only had to focus on a few threats that were actual life-threatening issues. For example, watching out for the pack of wolves, the neighboring warring tribe or the river when it flooded. Other than that, there was mostly positive aspects to nature.  When you’re walking through fields of wildflowers, you don’t need to be as thoughtful about beauty.

Modern Day

However, in modern life, this scenario has flipped. Now it seems like we are constantly surrounded by negative forces; for example, driving on an interstate. Finding the wild flowers is becoming increasingly harder to do. We have to be more deliberate about focusing on the positive aspects.

In the work environment, people who complain or create drama can be compared to the rival warring party. We automatically revert to a caution scenario and feel like we have to react.

Dr. Carrie stressed that it’s very important to hire for a good cultural fit, being careful and intentional about new hires.  It takes practice to hire for attitude and gratitude, but it can be done.

“We are always receiving positive and negative input,” stated Dr. McCrudden, “and what we focus on will grow in intensity.” The goal is to focus on what is helpful and to identify when it serves you to focus on the negative and when not to.

While you acknowledge reality (with its good and bad facets), it’s your decision on where you want to place your energy. She suggests to notice the negative (warring tribe/drama), then broaden your focus to include other things as well (wild flowers/gratitude).

Gratitude as an emotion

In a 2017 article published by Positive Psychology Program, they note that gratitude is a positive emotion where the effects can be measured.

They mention a multitude of studies presenting the positive effects when thinking in a more appreciative manner. Modern psychological perspectives show that being more grateful can lead to increased levels of well-being, enhanced relationships, increased optimism, happiness, stronger self-control and better physical and mental health.

The article remarks that historically gratitude is one of the most important human emotions for society success. This is understandable since “people can use gratitude to form new social relations or to build upon and make current ones better.”

There are numerous was to increase gratitude. However, we will reserve that discussion for another time. Recognize that gratitude costs nothing to practice and that there are many ways to express your thankfulness.

The biggest take away is that you have a choice to look at the drama or to focus on the gratitude. The benefits of seeing the glass half full are extensive and rewarding.