Tradition has it that we eat our meat and veg before our pudding. As a kid, it was always the pudding that we looked forward to. In fact mum said we had to eat our liver (yuck) and curly kale from the veg patch (we were poor!) before we got our ice cream. Imagine how we felt when we were faced with liver and curly kale - yes, pretty heavy hearted. And then the ice cream arrived - our spirits lifted.
So, I am going to propose that we mix things up and eat our pudding before our main course. Now, before you declare me mad for such culinary crimes, my thinking is to do this with our thinking. Let me explain.
Our thinking affects how we feel. When we get worried or stressed about things our bodies release the hormone cortisol. This impacts the cognitive processing parts of our brain, meaning our thinking takes place in the emotional part of our brain. This means it can be hard to process ideas and solutions as our cognitive processing is hindered. One of the things that helps reduce Cortisol is thankfulness. Research by Emmons, R. A. & McCullough, M. E. (2003) * highlighted that those who operated with thankfulness released hormones called DHEA and DHEA-s which have the benefit of counteracting Cortisol. This in turn frees up our cognitive thinking. So, starting with the positive helps us find solutions.
Often when we are under pressure, our tendency is to see problems and we make a big list of them. Just like Curly kale and liver, it brings us down. So how about starting with pudding. Like Emmons and McCullough found, start with the positive. It helps reduce the stress hormone and helps us then think of the solutions.
So, when you face challenges, start with pudding. First, ask yourself What is Working Well (WWW). Then you can consider what would be Even Better If (EBI). This is called Appreciative Thinking, one of the 7 mindsets of a leader.
As I write this, we are in the middle of the the Coronavirus. Worry can make us think of all the problems. If you can, try eating your pudding before the main course. Try thinking of the 'what's working well' before the problems. It might help lift your spirits and get a better balance and help you work out possible solutions.
Eat the pudding before the main course. It's a better way of thinking.
* R. A. Emmons (2007) Thanks! How the new science of gratitude can make you happier. Original study: Emmons, R. A. & McCullough, M. E. (2003) Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well being in daily life, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 84: 377-89.