Managing Your Energy & Building Optimism

Managing Your Energy
Jason Sackett, LCSW
USC Center for Work and Family Life
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Energy over time
Energy must be sustainable over time
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Generating energy
Exercise +
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Physical energy
 Works for you, enjoyable, meaningful
 Sustainable
 Focus on efforts, not outcomes
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Physical energy
Sleep/ rest
• Sleep
– At least 7 hours
• Rest
– Recovery time
– “1 minute break”
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Physical energy
Ban list
Emotional eating
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Physical energy exercise
 Let your eyes wander
 Let your body settle (slump)
 Inhale 4 seconds, exhale 4 seconds
 Sense heartbeat
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Generating emotional energy
Change in perspective
Expression—better out than in
Generating positive emotion
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Emotional energy through relationships
• Relationships drive emotional energy
• Set relationship standards
– Appreciated
– Respected
– Validated
– Valued
• No deal-killers
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Gratitude = Emotional energy
 Praise at least one person each day
 End each day by acknowledging what you are grateful for
 Write it down in highly specific terms
Exercise 1: Write down one point of praise for a colleague
present today
Exercise 2: Start a “compliment log”—document every
compliment you receive
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Mental energy
• Interest
• Flow
focus, concentration,
zone of challenge,
between anxiety and
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Mental energy exercise
 Think about an activity
 Visualize yourself performing that activity
 Imagine yourself doing it successfully
 Hold that image
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Spiritual energy
• Idealism, purpose
– Start with “Why”
• Explore your primary
motivations, ideals
• Practice what’s good for the soul
– Connecting with others
– Giving
– Music, art
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What drains your energy?
Energy leeches
 People
 Unwanted tasks
 Low self-care
 Confusion/ chaos
 Over-thinking
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Low self-care
Too much…
Not enough…
 Work/ responsibility
 Alcohol, caffeine, other
 Exercise
 Sleep
 Good nutrition
 Social interaction/ fun
 Negative appraisal, self-criticism
 Bottling of emotions
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Activities at work that consume energy
Project deadlines
Organizing files, documents, info
Phone calls
Checking emails
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Conserve energy through “scarcity”
To build scarcity, value, and influence…
• Create perception of being in high demand, but also a team
• Reserve time for high-value activities, avoid low-value
• Anticipate requests and offer assistance (reciprocity)
• Be willing to help, but after your tasks are complete
• Appear busy, while actually slowing your pace of work
• 3 D’s: Delay, Delegate, Do away with
Exercise: write down at least one way you can decrease
availability for low-value tasks
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Conserve energy by “getting out of your head”
Here and now
Preparation vs. anticipation
Don’t bring the pain early
Don’t “do others’ jobs for them”
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Exercise to get out of your head
Ask yourself the following questions:
1. What is going on, right here and right now?
2. Is there anything bothersome happening right at this
2a. If yes, is there anything I can do about it?
3. What would be a productive thought or activity on which to
focus my energy right now?
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Putting it all together
 Clear your mind (of the energy leeches)
 Breathe—inhale 4 seconds, exhale 4 seconds
 Focus—on the moment
 Sense your heartbeat and breathe
 Visualize—and hold the thought
 Compliment you received
 Gratitude for a relationship
 An enjoyable activity or accomplishment
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Part II:
Building Optimism
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• Tendency to look on
the more favorable
side of events or
• Tendency to expect
the most favorable
• Belief that good will
• Positive thinking
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Are you an optimist?
Optimism is not…
• Reckless
• Fantasy-based
• Unrealistic
• Limited to certain
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Why optimism?
• Inoculates against depression
• Improves overall health
• Improves recovery from illness
• Combines with talent and desire
to enable achievement
• It influences people to like you
• It generates positive energy,
causing good things to happen
• It beats pessimism
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Why not pessimism?
More illness
Lowers immune function
“Straight line to depression”
Lowers resilience
Lowers success
Almost no advantages
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How do you build optimism?
Explanatory styles
Role models
Staying in the present
Overcoming pessimism
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Explanatory styles
• Way we explain events, good or bad
Defining events
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Explanatory styles—Permanence
Extent to which causes of events are permanent
 High bad permanence = causes of bad events are permanent
– Contributes to lengthy feelings of helplessness, or excessive
helplessness from small setbacks
 Low bad permanence = causes of bad events are temporary
– Helps a person bounce back
 High good permanence = good events have permanent causes
– People try harder after they succeed
 Low good permanence = good events have temporary causes
– People give up even when they succeed, see success as a fluke
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Explanatory styles—Pervasiveness
Refers to the causes of good/ bad events, universal vs. specific
High bad pervasiveness = bad events have universal causes
Low bad pervasiveness = bad events have specific causes
High good pervasiveness = good events have universal c’s
Low good pervasiveness = good events have specific c’s
Exercise: Choose the statement that best describes you.
1. When one area of your life suffers, you can store it away and attend to
other important areas of your life
2. When one thread of your life snaps, the whole fabric unravels
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Explanatory styles—The stuff of hope
SOH = permanence (time) + pervasiveness (cause)
• Finding temporary and specific causes for misfortune, and
permanent/ universal causes for positive events, leads to
greater hopefulness
• Finding permanent and universal causes for misfortune,
and temporary/ specific causes for positive events,
decreases hope
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Explanatory styles—Personalization
The perceived locus of responsibility, internal vs. external
When bad things happen, we can blame ourselves (internalize)
or we can blame others or circumstances (externalize)
• Internalization
– Of bad events (blaming ourselves)  lower self-esteem
– Of good events (crediting ourselves)  higher self-esteem
• Externalization
– Of bad events (blaming circumstances) preserves self-esteem
– Of good events (crediting others) lowers self-esteem
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Explanatory styles—Re-defining, changing
• Maybe a bad event is actually good?
– Failure leads to greater resolve
– Loss breeds opportunity
– Only time will tell if this event is good or bad
• Law of averages
– I’m due for a break
• Pay attention only to what’s right with a situation
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Optimism role models
"I keep thinking, day to day, that something
good is just about to happen... I don't know
how to think otherwise." –Pete Carroll
Assistant Coach for 17 years
Hired as Head Coach of NY Jets, fired after one year
Hired by New England Patriots, lost Super Bowl
Did not make Top 3 in USC’s search for Head Coach
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Optimism role models
Common denominators
Past experiences of adversity did not
limit optimistic beliefs, efforts, or future
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Action in the present
• What am I doing right now?
• Focus exclusively on actions, not their
Number of steps
Time invested
Overall effort
 Creates the basis for realistic optimism
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• Adversity
• Belief
• Consequence (feeling)
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Overcoming pessimism
• Step 1: Recognize pessimistic thoughts
• Step 2: Distract or dispute
Successfully disputed beliefs are less
likely to recur when the same situation
presents itself again.
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• Using perspective
– Is my belief reasonable, or out of proportion?
– Distancing—if someone else judged me as critically as I am
judging myself, would I accept their conclusion?
Examining evidence
Find alternative explanations
Challenging implications
Discarding beliefs that are not useful or destructive
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Your new formula for replacing pessimism with optimism
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Resources/ References
Cialdini, R.B. (2007). Influence: The psychology of
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow: The psychology of
optimal experience.
Seligman, M.E. (1998). Learned optimism: How to
change your mind and your life.
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Keep in touch
USC Center for Work and Family Life
(213) 821-0800
[email protected]
• UPC –University Village (UVI), 3375 S. Hoover, Suite E206
• HSC –Soto Building, 2001 N. Soto Street Room SSB 112
Serving USC faculty and staff since 1980
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