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Thursday, April 11, 2013


Any reader of our blogs or those that follow us on twitter already know of my admiration for Jon Gordon.  He is an "impact player" in the game of life.  Through his books and speaking he is changing teams and individuals on a daily basis.  I have all of Jon's books and they have all impacted me.  His most recent book "One Word" has me on a path in which I have now lost 16 pounds.
Jon also has an email newsletter.  I look forward to each of them but really loved his most
recent one dealing with stress.  Like Jon, I too am a dog lover and understand the effects that unwavering loyalty and unconditional love can do for a relationship.  The photo above is of Miles -- our basset hound -- who both entertains and reduces level of stress in my life.
I strongly urge all of our readers to go to and register at the top for Jon's free newsletter.  Take some time to view the rest of the website.  And if you are one of the few that haven't already, invest in some of Jon's books.  As I mentioned, I have them all but "Training Camp" and "Energy Bus" are my two favorites. 
Here is what Jon had to say not only about dogs but about the importance of relationships:
Dharma "the love dog" greets me as I walk out of my bedroom in the morning. Then she rolls on her back letting me know she wants me to rub her belly. I really want to but I can’t stop thinking of all the things I have to do today. I feel busy, stressed and the last thing I want to do is stop to pet my dog.
Dharma must sense what I’m feeling because she gives me this loving look as if to say “Don’t walk away. Pet me. It will benefit you as much as it does me.”
I’ve read the research and I know she’s right. Petting our dogs reduces our stress, boosts our immune system, enhances our happiness and improves our overall well-being. If I would just stop for a few moments and spend quality time with her I would be the one who benefits most.
It’s the same way with the relationships in our life.
If we made time to invest in our relationships and spent quality time with our family, friends and colleagues we would dramatically improve the quality of our lives and careers.
Yet, too often busyness and stress cause us to focus on what is urgent instead of what matters most. We focus on our to-do list instead of people and our own survival instead of building thriving relationships.
That’s why I often say that busyness and stress are the enemies of great marriages, leadership, teamwork, relationships, and customer service. Busyness and stress keep us from caring about the people and things we are supposed to care about.
In many ways it’s not our fault. Science tells us that when we feel busy and stressed we activate the reptilian part of our brain. If you know anything about reptiles they will never love you. Reptiles want to eat you. They are all about survival. And so are we when we feel busy and stressed. Creating meaningful relationships is the last thing on our mind when we are stressed. Instead our reptilian brain is thinking about how to just make it through the day and it will eat anyone for lunch that gets in its way.
The good news, however, is that we have another part of the brain called the neocortex. I call it the Positive Dog part of our brain and we activate it when we love, care, pray, and practice gratitude. In any moment we can override the reptile with the positive dog.
We can choose to love people instead of ignoring them. We can choose to slow down instead of rushing. And we can choose to be thankful instead of stressed.
In fact, the research shows we can’t be stressed and thankful at the same time. So anytime we are feeling busy and stressed we can pause, take some deep breaths, focus on gratitude, and change how we approach the day and the people in our life.
This brings us back to Dharma as she waits for me to rub her belly. My reptilian brain is telling me to keep moving, hurry up, eat breakfast and ignore the dog. But I can’t. I won’t.
I know how and why busyness and stress can sabotage my joy and relationships. I know the antidote to busyness and stress is a positive thought away. I know that in each moment of my busy life I can override the reptile and focus on my relationships. And I know that when I make relationships my top priority everything in my life is better.
When you know better... you do better.
So I sit down and join Dharma on the floor and rub her belly. Then I make my way into the kitchen to talk to my wife and kids before school. It turns out to be the beginning of a positive and productive day.
Now that you know how busyness and stress can sabotage relationships, what will you do better to make relationships a priority. Share your thoughts on my blog, Facebook Page, or Twitter.
Note: To read more about the science and benefits of positivity read The Positive Dog. To read more about cultivating engaged relationships read Soup.