We can all thank our grandma or grandfather for the wisdom of today’s title. I believe that the original point of this advice dealt with the issue of anger management. The 10 second “countdown” was intended to give us the opportunity to shift from an ill-advised, emotional response when under stress to a calmer more rational demeanor.
Today’s missive chooses to move the homespun homily into a new arena of effective life direction. In deference to our venerable “snowman” we are suggesting a new operative belief which will move us forward. Perhaps more importantly, better relationships will flow from the new strategy with those close to us, be they friends, co-workers, or life partners.
Think about it. In an average day, we may interact with many others. In doing so, we express many messages, ranging from, “It’s good to see you.” to “I can’t believe you said that.” to “Please pass the salt.” Those messages can communicate information, convey feelings, express judgments, or even clarify decisions. These various forms of expression typically reflect positive, negative, or neutral content.
The request to “Please pass the salt” is pretty clearly a neutral form of expression. Compliments, favorable opinions, warm greetings, and simple smiles are all positive messages that we send to others. Conversely, frowns, corrections, complaints, and criticisms fall in the negative category.
Ok, there’s no new information in the above pigeonholing of our daily activities. We get it. But let’s go back to today’s title, Count to Ten. The “homework” for today’s newsletters invites a cataloging of our daily messages. Like an emotional bean counter, the task is to track our number of positive vs. negative outputs. We will ignore the neutral messages. Instead, just focus on the good and bad ones.
This will require an increased amount of attention paid to the quality of our communication. Sarcastic remarks, for example, may elicit laughs from an audience at work. But the giggles are earned at the expense of the target of the quip or jibe. Count “one” in the negative column in our daily emotional journal. Eye rolling over a lame joke gains another checkmark in the negative ledger column. And so on.
You can already anticipate the other side of our bookkeeping. Congratulations, statements of affection, compliments, and nods of approval all start the building of favorable stacks of affirmations. Now let’s go back to Count to Ten.
A recently departed, good friend often invited us to “do an act of kindness daily.” Great advice surely, but acts are far less frequent than are statements and facial expressions. Therefore, our ability to impact others, for better or worse, is readily available via the touch of an arm, the sincerely expressed compliment, or even the empathic nod of the head.
Can you Count to Ten easily with your praise or support tomorrow? Can you limit your diminishing messages and thoughtless acts to single digits over the next 24 hours? Like most good deeds, careful monitoring of our actions will benefit both the giver and receiver.
Become more mindful of your actions, in either direction. It will change your life.
Always believe in the magic of a new beginning.