First think about something that makes you angry or frustrated. Is there a person at work who really irritates you, a social issue that you find frustrating, or a personal problem that you’re struggling to solve? Let yourself feel the negative emotion of it, without getting wrapped up in the story line.
Now time yourself on this exercise (use the stopwatch function on your smart phone): in your head, subtract the number 13 from the number 101 repeatedly until the result is below zero.
Now let’s change your emotional state. Think of something that makes you feel sincerely appreciative. It can be a person, a pet, or perhaps a place. Make sure to pick something that has no negative emotions associated with it. Now imagine that you’re breathing into your heart. We all know that we breathe into our lungs, but focus on the area of your heart while breathing in slowly and gently to a count of five, then breathe out to a count of five. As you get into the rhythm of this, think about the thing that makes you feel appreciative. Do this for about a minute, or about five or six breath cycles.
Now time yourself on the same exercise, except subtract 13 from 102 repeatedly until the result is below zero. Compare your times from the two exercises.
Most people have a significantly faster time when in a positive, uplifted frame of mind. In fact, scientifically rigorous experiments have measured results in similar tests that required mental focus and attention. Participants tested their cognitive performance while in a naturally-occurring emotional state, then the experimental group activated positive, heartfelt emotions while the control group made no such change. They all then performed similar tests. The experimental group significantly improved their cognitive performance, whereas the control group showed no change in performance. In addition, there was a significant relationship between the degree of heartfelt positivity, which was measured by a heart wave monitor, and cognitive performance that held across all subjects and conditions.
Positive, heartfelt emotions can literally make you sharper. They broaden your scope of perception so you’re able to take in more information and see possibilities that others miss. They help you remember more details, analyze the possibilities with optimal attention, and use the sharpest discernment to arrive at the best decisions. What if you could get your entire business organization to be sharper in this way?
A 2010 IBM survey of over 1500 global CEO’s concludes that these are the qualities that organizations need to succeed into the future. As the business world becomes increasingly complex and fast-paced, employees are increasingly challenged to find local, instant solutions that work. Positive, heartfelt emotions are the key to thriving in these environments. This works because the heart has such a huge influence on the brain.
Good leaders already know the importance of emotions on employee performance. That’s why they use a variety of methods to help employees reach a more positive emotional state, such as showing employees appreciation and exposing them to stress reduction techniques. We know intuitively that happy employees are more productive. But the premier emotional state is more specific than just happy. The key is to positively activate the heart.
As we learn more from neuroscience about the incredible power of group emotions, we see reasons to adopt techniques beyond the ordinary. For more on shaping team emotions to increase creativity and performance, including research references, get notified of the upcoming book Primal Teams: Harnessing the Incredible Power of Group Energy or sign up for a monthly summary of articles.Share