Changing the Momentum of the Day

I’ve been on a quest to be more at peace with my work. I’m trying really hard to maintain a positive mindset, focus on the things I enjoy, and be relentless about helping others. It’s not always easy 1, but I know that it is worth the effort.

If a body is at rest or moving at a constant speed in a straight line, it will remain at rest or keep moving in a straight line at constant speed unless it is acted upon by a force. 

Newton’s First Law

It’s a bit of a stretch, but I think Newton’s First Law of Motion can be applied to our daily experience. We get rolling and then we are bombarded by “forces” — both positive and negative. These forces act on our emotions and determine the direction and velocity of our day. The hope is that the net outcome is positive — a good day.

We know that many of the “forces” that act on us are beyond our control. We don’t get to decide if someone is going to email us a complaint, give us a compliment, or if the internet is going to go haywire during an important meeting.

It is easier to get a potentially bad day turned around if you catch it before it has momentum. Since I don’t control everything that happens to me, I’ve learned that I have to apply my own forces throughout my day to ensure that my net outcome is positive.

Here are a few of the strategies I have tried:

  • Pause and take a few deep breathes
  • Remind myself that I can “reset” my day at any time
  • Step outside for some fresh air
  • Eat the donuts a kind student left on my desk 2
  • Recite a quick prayer, or read an encouraging quote
  • Pick one thing to focus on and hide the rest of my to-do list until it is done
  • Provide help to someone else
  • Write someone a note of encouragement, or send a positive email
  • Spend time with junior high students 3

There are endless possibilities and I’m still figuring out what works best for me.

The point is that if you want to change your trajectory, you are likely going to need to “push back” a little. Don’t just take the negative energy lying down.

Can you relate? What strategies do you use to push your day in a positive direction?

1 As a lifelong worrier, it is almost never easy for me. I find that I have to be very deliberate about seeking out the positives. Right now it requires a lot of thought. I am hopeful it will become more “natural” with practice.

2 This happened to me today. I received two donuts and a nice note from a student. Evidence that little things can make a big difference. Grateful.

3 Warning: this may not work for everyone.

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