“Sometimes Blues Singer” is included in my @jonebosworth twitter profile. Funnily, this seems to give me as much credibility as my juris doctor degree—maybe more.
The Blues is uniquely American, a genre of music that emerged in the 1890s. Blues deeply influenced greats like Elvis, Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, and the Rolling Stones. (And me.)
Blues’ people love painful stories. We love grit and growl and getting it all out there. One of the best parts of my life is singing with Blues bands, sitting out in fields listening to Blues players, or (back-in-the-day) hanging out in dark, smoke-filled bars relishing anyone who plays old Blues standards.
The Thrill is Gone
If you’re scratching your head wondering where this is leading, I’ve been reflecting on the winter blues and blahs. Our intentions wane; work motivation fades. We tend to thinking about work in the future year, not the present.
The work thrill is gone?
Even if you’re not a Blues music fan you’ve likely heard “The Thrill is Gone,” a classic song most famously recorded by B.B. King.
The thrill is gone, it’s gone away from me . The thrill is gone, baby, the thrill is gone away from me. Although, I’ll still live on , but so lonely I’ll be.” – Roy Hawkins & Rick R. Darnell, Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group
To combat the thrill-is-gone feeling, Dr. Barbara Fredrickson’s research on love can help. Her article, “Five Ways to Renew an Old Love,” speaks to reigniting and sustaining couples’ love. Fredrickson writes: “I’ve concluded that love, as your body sees it, is the momentary upwelling of three tightly interwoven events:
- A sharing of one or more positive emotions between you and another;
- A synchrony between your and the other person’s biochemistry and behaviors;
- A reflected motive to invest in each other’s well-being that brings mutual care.
My shorthand for this trio is positivity resonance.”
Love Research Applied to Work
What is work? Relationships. Let’s apply Fredrickson’s positivity resonance to our work relationships: our colleagues, our clients or customers, and even our boss.
Look into people’s eyes.
Make it a top priority this time of year to make eye contact with others, to “sync up” in person. Being connected via technology and writing XOXO just won’t keep the thrill alive. Our bodies hunger for more. Fredrickson explains, “The main mode of sensory connection, scientists contend, is eye contact…eye contact may well be the most potent trigger for connection and oneness.”
Seek shared silliness.
Shared silliness, shared “play,” beats off the blues. Fredrickson found that couples who regularly do new, exciting, and even silly things together have better quality marriages. How about trying something new, silly and playful with work relationships?
I’m not encouraging you to go nuts at a work holiday party and do something you’ll regret. Switch things up. Instead of obligatory after-work drinks or holiday event, try rock-climbing, building a Habitat for Humanity house, cleaning a city park, anything where cooperation is required and shared silliness can naturally occur.
Celebrate shared history.
“The more trusting and open you are with someone else—and the more trusting and open that person is with you—the more points of connection each of you may find over which to share a laugh, or a common source of intrigue, serenity, or delight,” Fredrickson writes.
Don’t cross the “TMI” (too much information) line with workmates but do find a way to laugh, share stories, and connect with others. Be conscious of those “remember the time” positive work-related happenings. If it feels like you don’t have any, isn’t it time to stop, breathe, and start creating some shared positive experiences?
Gratitude is a sure blues-beater any time of year: show your kindness and appreciation. Fredrickson writes, “Saying ‘thanks’ well then isn’t just a matter of being polite, it’s a matter of being loving, and becoming a stronger version of what together you call ‘us’.”
That “us” can be the work “us.” Beyond thanking someone for doing something, try authentically telling someone you believe in her/him. It’s the greatest gift you can give another person.
Positive emotions bank.
Every relationship—including work relationships—can hit a thrill-is-gone space. Fredrickson makes a great case for “banking” positivity resonance, positive emotions and memories that can be drawn upon later during tough times. This time of year, it is especially critical to reflect and pull up the positive memories of working with that colleague, that client, or that boss to help keep the thrill alive.
Dr. Fredrickson contends that sharing more “moments of positivity resonance as a couple, within schools and neighborhood, may help whole nations be more resilient during tough times.” Surely depositing your work positivity resonance, and this time of year withdrawing from that bank, will do wonders too.
Blues image via Damn Right I’ve Got the Blues