On a windy Wednesday evening, Tryangle’s WOW van took me from assertive Antwerp to Limburg’s Leopoldsburg. The drive filled my heart with hope and anticipation. I was looking forward to talking to a dear colleague and good friend who inspires me at every encounter. And I already knew from the greeting that this would be the case again this evening.
We were just chatting, shooting the breeze, when our conversation led us to our great common denominator: happiness. From a Tryangle perspective, I primarily delve into work happiness, whereas my interlocutor chooses to open up the topic. He tells me how – in order to broaden his horizon and increase his happiness – he had taken part in a shamanistic ritual. His experiment had resulted in a wonderful afternoon, topped off with a mindful yoga session enhanced by the inspiring visualisation of a bear. And that visualisation offers remarkable insights that can also increase your happiness at work: the 3 bear powers. Indeed, the bear is playful, strong and sets its boundaries.
Playful: dare to combine hard work with fun
Our Catholic history has linked a compelling reputation to “work”. Because Eve bit into the famous apple, she had to work hard all her life, together with lover boy Adam, to pay for her sins. And so, in an instant, “work” became inextricably linked to “must”. I still remember very well how, in my previous function guiding job applicants, I regularly received the following question from my students: “Do I have to look for a job that pays well, one that I can do well or one for which I have the necessary diplomas?”. My reaction: “Why don’t you look for a job that you like doing?”made many an eyebrow frown …
Let there be no doubt: work can/should also be fun! If you don’t believe yours truly, pinpoint yourself the moments you feel that time flies, explore which job gives you energy so that you can enjoy a nice evening after your working day, and in which circumstances you are most productive. Long before burn-out was an issue, Aristotle already knew: “Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.” So, let the playful bear inspire you to work hard while having fun.
Set your boundaries: dare to say no and lovingly guard your boundaries
The bear protects both himself and the VIPs in his life by communicating clearly when you shouldn’t get too close. From a cautionary look, over growling, to taking a swing – a whole range of communicative signals. Honest and constructive communication can also help us a long way. Why do we always fall into the same trap? You hear yourself say “yes” to the question of whether you can take on this extra task, even though you’re already overloaded. You feel “no”, you think “no!”, your whole body screams “don’t do it!!” and yet your mouth says … “yes”. If you continue to use this communication style, you are buying yourself a one-way ticket to too much work, stress, and a short fuse, leading to even more misery on the home front…
Follow the example of the bear and develop a communication process that is clear: if people know where they stand and what they can expect from you, they will also respect your boundaries. This will enable you to interact much more comfortably and in a way that is positive for yourself as well as your interlocutor – talking about a win-win!
Strong: the cuddly bear stands in its power
Do you know why bears test very high on the strokability scale when they are in fact not the world’s greatest cuddlers? Their thick, soft coat certainly has something to do with it, but also the fact that we, as humans, can identify with them when they stand on their hind legs. In our minds, we feel their front paws curl around us like loving arms. Our unconscious retina instantly associates the heart-warming hug with that of a care bear. Nevertheless, bears are very powerful while all the while preserving their cuddly appearance.
You may also test high on the strokability scale. This quality does not need to fade when you are standing in your power. I’m especially thinking of coaching managers, who often ask me whether their “cuddly management style” allows for a directive form of communication that translates into instruction and evaluation. Of course! Just like the bear, we can combine the best of both worlds to create a powerful interaction that also nurtures the relationship.
“Did you know that, next to the wolf, the bear is on the top step of the power ladder?”my valued interlocutor brought up. “That means that the bear has but one enemy in the wild: the wolf. And now it becomes really inspiring: nature has arranged for these potential enemies to treat each other with respect and not fight each other. They tolerate one another, respect the other’s mastery and thus mutually strengthen their position as masters of the animal kingdom.”
That evening, I drove home with a warm heart and the inspiration for the text I just shared with you. The 3 bear powers have meanwhile already provided me with very valuable attributes: good vibes, strength and peace – 3 factors that can only boost my (work) happiness.