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give out joy

As the news about the Coronavirus has changed, developed and exploded over the last week in the U.S., it has been hard to escape.  There has been panic buying, mixed information, quarantines and lots of shouting!  And while there have been some nice gestures from individuals, for the most part it feels like this virus is making us drown in negativity (especially online).

That’s why now is really good time to consider creating a policy of “Giving Out Joy.”  Whether as an individual, or an organization, we have the opportunity to stand out in a very crowded landscape.  This is not to say that we do not educate ourselves on the very real threats in the world.  It’s about understanding them, and being an island of inspiration anyway.

Here is an excerpt from my recent book “The Give First Economy,” that feels even more true now than when I wrote it.

Give Out Joy

Some days it feels like the world is drowning in negativity.  Studies will tell you that 89% of what you see every day is negative.  Whether it is through the media, social media or even in the 3D world, everyone seems to be frustrated or complaining.

And don’t just blame the media.  That’s lazy.  The fact is, most days CNN is not who is filling up my Facebook feed with bitching.  It’s us.  It’s you.  Don’t get me wrong, the media helps fuel this fire, but they are not the only ones throwing logs on it.  We all have a share of the blame.

The great thing about social media is that everyone has a voice.  The bad thing is…everyone has a voice.  As you turn on your device, it seems half the people posting are snarky trolls and the other half create a new reason to play the victim every day.  Negativity is all around us.

Once we understand that, the question is obvious.  What do we do about it?

The answer is simple (but not always easy) …Give Out Joy.

In a world where nearly 90% of what we see is negative, most people are hungering for something different.  We are looking for someone to shine a light on good things.  We are looking for inspiration.  And the reality is, when you push out good and joy into the world, we stand out in a crowded marketing place.

When we are creating a business, an organization or a personal brand, we are always trying to prove to the market place we are better.  But as Mike Michaelowicz says (author of Profit First, Pumpkin Plan and many other great business books),

“In the minds of our customers, better is not better.  Different is better.”

The fact is, when seemingly everything we see in the world is negative, a positive person (or brand) can be a shining light.  It stands out.  So by giving out joy, creating joy and spreading joy, you start to stand out in the marketplace.

Now you might be thinking, “Great.  But I am already a positive person!”  My guess is, you are not as positive as you think.  (Sorry to be negative).  The fact is, as humans, we are not great at self-auditing.  That’s why surveys will tell you that MOST people think they are an above average driver.  The math tells you that’s not true.

So how do we know if we are positive or negative?

Let’s start with a simple exercise. 

This is something I have done is sessions I give all over the U.S.  I start with a simple question.

How many of you know someone that is constantly negative on social media?  They are always complaining.  As I say “They are pissed off if they can’t find something to be mad about?”  This always elicits some chuckles as everyone in the raises their hands.  Everyone knows this guy or gal.

Then I follow up with another simple question.

“How many of you ARE that person?”

Silence.  No hands.  People start to look around the room and small uncomfortable laughs start as they realize the joke.

Then the punchline comes as I say, “I have given this talk all over the country and I have never met the one jerk that is filling up all of our Facebook feeds!”

No one thinks it’s them.  As I said, we are not great at self-auditing.  We don’t think we are being negative.  We think we “are just venting.”  We might even think we are being funny.  But we, generally, don’t think we could possibly perceived as a negative person.

Let’s go to the tape!

Go to your Facebook feed (or your social media outlet of choice) and look at the last 10 posts.  Be introspective.  Think about how they might be looked at from the outside world.  Now, if 4 or more of those posts could be perceived as negative (and that’s not up to you, right?), you are likely thought of as a negative person by many of the people that follow you.

Oh…and here’s the caveat.  Political posts and religious posts can be viewed as negative.

We all have that “crazy uncle” that posts on their favorite social media platform about 9 times a day outlining why the current U.S. President is a criminal.  Sure…those people are easy to spot.  But what about you?  What do your posts look like?

The push back I sometimes get when I am speaking has to do with “religious” posts.  What do I mean by that?  I am not suggesting you should not celebrate your faith.  I am suggesting that tone matters.  Consider it.

On the other hand, you really should be authentic.  You should not just change your personality to fit what people want.  I don’t think you should and I am not suggesting that.  If you WANT to post political rants, that’s your call.  What I AM saying is you should be intentional.  Most people just sort of randomly post and share without any real thought as to how they are perceived by the outside world.

I do think you should be intentional about it.  And, if you want to stand out and make a difference, and create a personal brand that people want to follow in the Give First Economy, I think you should consider intentionally being joyful.

Where to Start

If you like the idea of pushing out more joy but are wondering where to start, here are a few ideas.  Use these as a jumping off point and run with it!

Share Joyful News:  This doesn’t have to just be about the highlight reel of your life.  Seek out good things in your community and share them!  Look for good things in your organization or relationships and give them a shout out!  It will not only be a great and joyful noise coming from you, but it will make them feel good too!

Create Uplifting Content:  If you are so inclined, write blogs that help to uplift.  Create Instagram posts designed to admire.  Edit a video together where you interview people doing good in your industry.  Shining a light on the good in the world can always be a great place to start.

Give Compliments:  We will talk more about this in the next chapter, but make it a point to give people praise.

Smile:  Want a funny exercise?  The next time you drop your kid off at school (or drive to any public place), take the time to look at the faces of the other drivers.  Wow.  You will see a LOT of grumpy faces!  Take the time to give people your smile.  It’s funny…you will see people give it back.

There are plenty of ways to give out joy…and it’s more important than ever.  Please consider spreading that joy today.  Oh, and if you want more content like this, please check out our blog page here.  And you can find my book “The Give First Economy” here on Amazon.