Everyone and every-where possess a unique emotional climate. This atmosphere may be as big as a country, as small as a person, and everything – cities, churches, businesses, families – in between.
It’s something in the environment, a vibe, that something-in-the-air that for most people, goes undetected. Unless they’re looking for it.
The emotional climate of a workplace, church, family or a person can be uplifting and life-giving or exhausting and life-sucking.
In case you’re not sure you’re one of the people who can pick up on this climate, you’re probably more tuned in than you think.
This emotional vibe that others possess is, more or less, how you feel during and after being in a place or with a person.
Do you feel better or worse? What is the name of that feeling: Hope, cynicism, isolation, despair, optimism, creativity, welcome, rejection, anxiety, peace?
Naming it is powerful. Now you know what the predominant attitude will be when you talk with this person or work in this place.
But don’t get caught up in it. Diagnosing the vibe of a place is not the end goal. Knowing what we are surrounded with gives us the opportunity to rise above it. No longer are we the unaware victims, swept up in a culture we don’t see.
Yet I often hear people say, “This place is sucking the life out of me.” While it may be true, it is usually the statement of someone who has not chosen their own attitude but simply takes on the feel of wherever they are or whomever they are with.
Proverbs tells us that a person who is not in control of their own spirit is like a city with broken-down walls: anything can get in.
Is that you? Do you resonate with the predominant attitudes of whoever you’re with or do you challenge the status quo by bringing your own unique attitude and perspective to the table? Did you even know you had the choice?
Just because you live or work there doesn’t mean you have to drink the water. You don’t have to think the way everyone else does.
Sure, some will be suspicious of your optimism. A few people will wonder why you refuse to get beat down or jaded. They will think it is a stroke of luck when doors open for you or when your boss gives you a project she doesn’t trust anyone else with.
The truth is anyone can transcend the culture, the climate, that vibe of heaviness and apathy, fear and resignation. We need not be the unwitting victims of a person or place’s atmosphere.
So how do we rise above?
First, we have to know the climate exists, put our feelers out and identify it. Name it. (Hopefully it’s making people better but if not, no problem.)
Second, we choose and create a better vibe that radiates from our own personal climate and into the larger environment. We become ones who release good into our world instead of simply absorbing bad.
The trick is naming the vibe and then choosing in advance what you will bring to the conversation or place. Trying to be strong and change the attitude in the moment will probably fail, at least the first few times.
For me, this vibe comes from knowing God and that deep down, all things are for my good and he can make good of anything. This builds hope and confidence in me. That’s where my personal environment comes from.
Lest you think this is abstract, fanciful ideas, I can tell you that I’ve chosen this approach at work, and it has greatly increased my influence in my workplace. People are repelled by despair and attracted to hope. So if I choose to bring that, and we all know I’ve struggled deeply for every ounce of hope, then I become the magnet and I get to influence how people think and feel, inform what they think is possible.
Ghandi called this “being the change you want to see in the world”. So instead of complaining or getting beat down with the predominant attitude of the atmosphere, become your own transformation and watch the climate shift – for the better – around you.