NCET helps you explore business and technology
By Mikalee Byerman
We’ve all heard the phrase “You are what you eat” — suggesting our bodies somehow physically manifest as reflections of our diet. Healthy people, the thinking goes, consume healthy things.
Well I’m here to suggest a corollary to that argument. You are what you “digitally” eat. Gross? Not so much — let me explain.
We spend a metric ton of time online — six hours per day on average, more than one-third of our waking hours — meaning every week, you’re spending almost two entire days browsing, searching, “liking” and reading. And when that time is full of negativity, despair and stress — well, you can guess the outcome, right?
Now let’s talk about productivity at work. A recent study by economists at the University of Warwick found that happiness led to a 12 percent spike in productivity, while unhappy workers proved 10% less productive. Shawn Anchor, psychologist and author of The Happiness Advantage, suggests the brain works much better when a person is feeling positive — leading to quantifiable spikes in creativity and problem-solving. (Seriously, watch his TED Talk if you want to know more — and also have a good laugh or six or even 10.) And additional research has shown that when workers are happy, they’re more effective collaborators.
So let’s put this all together: When we consume negativity, we become negative. When we consume positivity, we become not only happier, but also better employees.
Ready for that digital diet yet? But where exactly do we shop, and what’s the e-version of kale we should throw in our virtual baskets?
I work for a creative agency, and one of our goals has to do with Research & Development — to come up with new initiatives outside of “traditional” ad agency work. And last year, we started talking about this simple fact: Online news is overwhelmingly negative.
So we created the solution, developing a website dedicated to local positive stories called JustThePositive.com. I’m responsible for generating its social media content, and as such, here’s an interesting and unexpected side-effect: Since I’ve been seeking positive stories to post, I see far less negativity in my newsfeed.
That’s right, Facebook’s algorithm is actually adapting to my searches for positivity. The Facebook bots are serving up more frequent and tasty bites of positivity because I’m proactively seeking these morsels out!
The takeaway: If you’re looking to boost your positivity and productivity, here’s the recipe:
- Seek positivity online. Spend more time perusing and drawing feel-good inspiration from your favorite causes, like the SPCA’s Facebook page or Eddy House’s inspirational posts or whatever falls in line with your passion.
- Share the positive. When you see a friend tell an amazing story, or you swoon over a scenic photo, or you find a puppy that needs adopting, share it!
- Block negativity. If you have friends who bring you down, “snooze” them (a temporary solution, look at it as a 30-day reprieve) or “unfollow” them (you’re still friends but you won’t see their posts, and they are NOT notified. Translation: no guilt!).
- Be the positive. Do good in your community, and formulate ways to help others. And when you do, don’t forget to tell us about it at Just the Positive so we can tell our readers, or better yet, become a contributor and write about it yourself!
We know intuitively that positivity is good, but we likely seldom think about how we can train digital properties to deliver positivity directly to us. So put yourself on a digital detox: Try it for a few weeks, watch your newsfeed adapt, feel happier and become a better employee. Plus it’s far more appetizing than kale smoothies. Or so I’ve been told.
Mikalee Byerman is VP of Strategy for the Estipona Group, a creative agency that has been building brands and buzz since 1993. She’s also VP of Communications for NCET, a member-supported non-profit which produces educational and networking events to help people explore business and technology. And, full disclosure: She loves kale.