Yesterday I received a promo piece (see today’s picture) from the mortgage broker who helped me get the mortgage for my new house. He sent me what I call a “mood magnet” and it is very clever. There is one large magnet with thirty cartoon faces representing different “moods” or “feelings” and a small Magnet window to place over the different faces to represent your mood of the day or feelings at the moment. And it says, of course, “Feel great about your mortgage.” (By the way, if you need a good mortgage broker go to http://www.marketlinemortgage.com and find Taum and his phone number at the bottom of the page.)
I had a great laugh because I love stuff like this. I moved the little window over the various faces just for the fun of it, thinking of people I knew who sometimes seemed stuck in the feeling – frustrated, suspicious, depressed, angry. Don’t we all know people who are always frustrated and proud of it? And angry and happy to be the angriest person around?
And as I played with it I began to notice that most of the emotions were negative or borderline, like “shy“and “mischievous.” Hmmm. Was I imagining this? So I counted them. Sure enough – 80% are negative. I know this is a gimmick, a marketing tool, but nevertheless it does reflect somewhat our emphasis on the negative in our society. Here’s the list:
Several questions came to mind:
- Are there more names for negative emotions than for positive emotions?
- Are we more focused on the negative emotions than the positive emotions?
- Are we generally happy so that when we experience negative feelings we are more aware of them?
- Does an expression of negativity get us more feedback/response than when we give a positive expression?
I can only answer the first question and guess at the others. But I can give you more names of positive emotions:
10. Satisfaction (Even if the Rolling Stones Don’t Get None)
17. Good (“If feel good)
18. Great (“I feel great)
There now, these with our original six give us more positive words to describe how we feel than the negative.
But think about it. When some one says, “Hi, how are you today?” How do you respond? If you’re having a good day, you probably say, “Great” or “Couldn’t be better.” If you are not having a good day, you will be more definitive. “Well, I’m so angry with Joe that I could spit nails.” Or, “I’m feeling down today – I guess I’m a little depressed because . . .”
Perhaps we go negative because there’s more feedback. When someone responds “I’m great,” you will normally smile and go about your business. But if they give you a negative response you are prone to ask more questions, to listen and to commiserate.
What if we rewarded positive responses;
“Hi, how are you?”
I’m so glad to hear that. You look great, too. Tell me about the wonderful things in your day. (Now that’s a show stopper, isn’t it.”
“My daughter made the dean’s list, my son has a new girlfriend that we all like, my wife left the house singing this morning, and I just got the big account I’ve been working on for so long.”
“I’m glad to hear that. Tell me more.”
Let’s do a little experiment for one week. Let’s reward positive comments with feedback and see what happens. My guess is that if enough people start doing this we can change for the better our office, our classroom, our home – and who know whefre it goes from there.