How Mental State Impacts Outcome

Have you ever had one of those days? You know, the one that starts out on the wrong foot and then the rest of the day seems to go wrong.


I recently had a day like that. When I was getting ready for the day, I got my mascara all over my eyelid. After cleaning that off, I coughed while drinking my protein shake and it launched all over the kitchen. I remember saying, “oh, it’s going to be that kind of day.” 


This week I learned a few things to help turn those kind of days around. 


I started my week off with a class about the neuroscience of creativity and innovation. This class was offered by my corporate employer (which is incredible). In this class, we did a couple of exercises to see how environmental circumstances can impact our creativity and innovation.


In the first exercise we were shown a picture of a graveyard and asked to think about how we usually feel when we see that image. Then, the instructor played loud, heavy metal music and showed us a picture of a glass pitcher. She asked us to write down different uses of the pitcher in 30 seconds.


In the second exercise we were shown a picture of sunflowers. The instructor played uplifting, classical music and showed us a picture of a door. We were asked, again, to write down all of the uses we could think of for the door in 30 seconds.


The uplifting mood from the picture and the music in the second exercise resulted in more creativity and innovation. The students were able to write several more uses for the door than for the pitcher. 


Later in the week, I was on my way to the gym at 5:30 am. It was dark out and there were two homeless people on the street that frightened me. One roams the neighborhood with long sticks and the other laughs maniacally. Both have unpredictable behavior. 


Once I was inside the gym, I told my coach about the two people I encountered outside. My coach gave me a gift. He said, “well, you’re here now.” This brought me back to the present.


As I was warming up, I kept thinking about the two people I had encountered outside. I got the feeling that this experience could ruin my day. Rather than buy into that, I thought about how I could turn it around. My coach was right, I was here now. The opposite of what I felt outside was safety. Rather than focusing on the fear, I focused on the safety. I repeated “I am safe” when the fear came up. After 10 minutes, I had forgotten about the experience outside.


That day I had four client meetings – it was a big day. I had to have my energy up to show up well for the day. On my way to the office, I listened to my friend Rachel’s podcast about the Law of Attraction. In this episode, she talks about how when you feel good, you attract good things to you. As a result, I had a positive mindset and ended up having an awesome day.


In these three experiences – the neuroscience exercises, the reversal of my thoughts from “I am afraid” to “I am safe,” and the podcast episode collectively taught me about the importance of focusing on things that are positive in the moment. 


The next time your day starts off on the wrong foot, look for the good things you can focus on and and see how it shifts your outcome.

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