22 Jan 2020 It’s Good to Feel Good
Last week I conducted an impromptu, unscientific survey. I asked most everyone I came into contact with how they were feeling. I got a few quizzical looks as I think people are more accustomed to being asked how things are going or how they are doing. But I was intentional in my choice of words.
I was curious about the frequency of positive versus negative responses to the inquiry. One of my New Year commitments was to get comfortable with feeling good, physically and emotionally. I want to give myself permission to feel good about feeling good, even when circumstances might have me reacting otherwise.
Falling into a pattern of expressing negative emotions seems to come easier than sharing what is going well or remembering what has gone well in the past. Some of the top responses to my feelings survey were “overwhelmed, worn down, exhausted, busy, behind, fat, worried, sad, sick (the flu is going around), fine, and unmotivated.” I also heard “amazing, energized, fired up, ready and good.” but overwhelmingly the negative adjectives outweighed the positive 2 to 1.
Has society somehow convinced us that everything in life requires struggle, grit or heroic acts of bravery? Do we think that there is a limit to feeling good and that we may use it all up or the other shoe will drop if we use up too much? I don’t have the answers to these questions, but the survey has caused me to ask.
Thought patterns such as, I have to run myself down to succeed, I will never get a promotion unless I suffer endless hours, and if I don’t do it no one else will, may lead to the negative responses in my feelings survey. There is nothing wrong with grit, hard work and pressing forward on our goals, but do we have to surrender feeling good in order to get there?
There is suffering in our world and we have no idea what other people are going through on any given day. People will work hard at hiding struggles and pain, yet in answering someone in passing, freely offer words that create a sense of despair.
For many years in my work I walked alongside families who were hungry, living on the streets and unsure of their future. I was often humbled when they described how they were feeling as hopeful, blessed and grateful. They displayed hope, faith and an ability to find the good in most any situation, even those many of us will never have to face.
So how can we feel good about feeling good after being conditioned that struggling is the only acceptable response? One of the best ways is doing good for others. It is almost impossible to feel negative in the midst of helping others. At the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, I have the opportunity to see firsthand the results when a donor, volunteer or nonprofit professional is impacted by reaching out to their community. They express they feel good about doing good and carry that memory with them in times of personal or professional difficulty.
As we head into 2020 together, let’s work together to support each other and the community in doing good and feeling good. It’s good to feel good.
About the Southwest Florida Community Foundation
The Southwest Florida Community Foundation, founded in 1976, cultivates regional change for the common good through collective leadership, social innovation and philanthropy to address the evolving community needs in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Foundation partners with individuals, families and corporations who have created more than 400 philanthropic funds. Thanks to them, the Foundation invested $7.7 million in grants and programs to the community. With assets of $134.9 million, it has provided $83.7 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves since inception. The Foundation is the backbone organization for the regional FutureMakers Coalition and Lee County’s Sustainability Plan. The Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s regional headquarters are now located in the historic ACL Train Depot at Collaboratory in downtown Fort Myers, with a satellite office located in LaBelle (Hendry County). For more information, call 239-274-5900 or visit www.floridacommunity.com