Chris Markiewicz's Blog
Every Monday – thoughts, observations and ideas that hold up a mirror to who & how we are

When you’re smiling……


“When you’re smiling, when you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you” Song lyrics by Mark Fisher / Joe Goodwin / Larry Shay

 There’s a lot of truth in those lyrics.The world has an uncanny way of reflecting back what we project.

 Just a few days ago, I was pretty grumpy to say the least. However, during that day, I was able to observe how people and situations seemed to reflect my mood. As well as several negative encounters with others, I even suffered train delays and had problems with my PC. I ended up feeling inordinately tired – being miserable uses a lot of energy!

 This experience prompted me to remember an interesting question I’d encountered:

 “Are you a radiator or a drain?”

 The question had been posed in an interview by none other than the TV and radio personality Johnny Vaughan. He was suggesting that all of us tend to fall into one of those two categories.

 So, what is a radiator and what is a drain? Which do you tend to be, and what effect might that have on what happens “to you” in your life?

 I’m sure you will have come across the type of people who complain about everything – the weather, the state of the economy. their job etc. They tend to be cynical, sarcastic and morose These would be classed as drains – when you are around them,  they tend to drain the energy out of you.

 On the other hand, there will (hopefully)  be people you know who exude a more positive attitude to life – they see the good in situations and people and enjoy challenges, giving and helping. Being around them tends to feel energising. These are the radiators.

 Circumstances may contribute to a person’s overall tendency towards either of these states but that isn’t always necessarily the case. Radiators can exist in the most difficult of circumstances and vice versa.

 Professor Richard Wiseman in his book “The Luck Factor”, asks you as the reader to imagine being caught up in a bank raid. You get shot in the arm by one of the raiders.

 Do you say to yourself “Cripes, that was lucky, another few inches and I’d have been a goner!” – Radiator

 Or do you declare “Typical, just my luck, of all the people to get shot it had to be me” – Drain.

 Whilst no one in their right mind is going to welcome being shot in the arm and most certainly won’t go out of their way to experience that, the radiator will respond in a more constructive way than the drain. They will brush themselves down (with their remaining good arm) and get on with things. They are more likely to learn from the experience rather than re-live it.

 My daughter has been watching old episodes of “Secret Millionaire” online. The programme features successful businesspeople going under cover into deprived areas for a week. This is with a view to finding groups and individuals who need financial support for good work they are doing in their community. In one of the episodes, the undercover millionaire found herself talking to a group of men in a pub who spent the whole evening complaining about how their area had degenerated and how there was no hope for the future. The woman left the pub absolutely emotionally and physically drained. She had allowed herself to have the life sucked out of her.

 The following day, she met a couple of people who were living in the self same community who could not have been more different. They saw the good things, the potential, and had set about doing something about the situation by running community initiatives.  One of these people was a 79 year old woman. After a few hours in the company of these radiators  she was energised and positive. The difference was palpable.

 Imagine what working life would be like in an organisation full of drains as compared to one full of radiators. The difference is extraordinary – I have visited both in the course of my work and felt it first hand.

 I firmly believe in the power of one. In other words, one person can start to make a difference. By starting to radiate, it needn’t take long before the world  “smiles with you”

 So, what can help us be more of a radiator?

 Here are just three things that have helped me move away from my own “drain tendencies”:

 When I settle down for the night I think of five things that I feel grateful for from that day. Drains complain, radiators appreciate – we can’t do both at once

 At the end of each week I write my “Hurrah!” list. This is a summary of all the things I have achieved, enjoyed or learned that previous week. They include work, home and personal things, from the smallest to the most major. The process helps set me up for the following week.

 The third thing is to do with this regular blog. I now look forward  to Monday mornings, where I didn’t so much before. Why? Because I write and post this blog and just love the idea that people will be reading it – I start the week by “putting myself out there” and find that very energising and affirming.

 So, if you are reading this on Monday morning it may be that you feel grumpy and not much looking forward to the week ahead. What can you find to focus on to help make it more enjoyable? Just take a look around right now, wherever you are and see if you can spot at least one thing you can appreciate – however small – it could start to help make all the difference to your week ahead.

 Have a good one.

 PS: Oh, and remember, you are a flippin’ miracle! (As covered in my recent post titled “Mirror, mirror on the wall” – 14 Feb ’11)           


3 Responses to “When you’re smiling……”

  1. dear Chris – great stuff- but this drain is feeling a bit too full at the mo I recently said to someone that I feel like I have crawled into a drain and was stuck half way so its a bit dark and stunted in here. Anway the radiator says it is bright and sunny and I am free to be myself and Monday awaits. Thanks for a Monday smile xx

  2. Hi Chris
    Thanks, as ever, for the Monday up-lift. I am getting used to the “shot in the arm” (of the positive variety) each week at this time. I really appreciate the help it gives me to reacquaint myself with my desk and the work for the week ahead.
    Keep your thoughts coming our way! I’m energised today.

  3. More food for thought – its a spring morning, but look at the state of the garden, I left it in pretty good nick in the autumn – I need to replace some guttering (damn snow & ice), my chain saw needs fixing & I am snowed under with proper work, why can’t clients work within my set of constraints I ask myself … or, its a wonderful spring morning, listen to the birds – its getting lighter in the evenings, just can’t wait to get outside & getting things to look great again, oops, the guttering, ah well, could have been much worse. Cricket season approaching, golf in warm weather. bbqs, work with interesting clients …., life aint so bad is it.

    I get the point ! Your “drain/radiator” comparison reminds me of a number of people I play golf with regularly. I am privelaged I think to be a member at Sherwood Forest GC, which is in the countries top 100 golf courses (so if you’re in the area and you play golf, why not contact me). A number of the people I refer to are fine, but they regularly adopt drain like behaviours when talking about the state of their own golf course, i.e. they never stop complaining. I asked one of the chief misery guts recently, “if all the things that you are moaning about were fixed this instance, would you find something positive to say about our wonderful course or would you find something else to moan about”. I did say it complete with a friendly smile, and the response I received went something like “I know its a great course Alan, but ……” and then more drain like behaviour. Its funny, but those who I class as “drains”, always complain about their bad luck at golf, but never acknowledge good fortune. Having played golf for years, the law of averages certainly works out !! The problem is that drain behaviour, like behaviour itself, is contagious. Get a few drains together and its a pretty depressing atmosphere, whereas getting a bunch of positively minded folk together exudes a totally different atmosphere, I am sure we’ve all experienced this regularly.

    So, I agree Chris with your ponderings, but what do you suggest I do about the radiators in our house that never get hot, or needn’t I worry because spring is here !


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