My 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.
She 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 others by spending quality time with our family, friends, staff and congregation we would dramatically improve the quality of our lives, church and community.
Yet, too often busyness and stress cause us to focus on what is urgent instead of what matters most. We get caught up on the task and on our to-do list instead of focusing on people and building meaningful relationships.
That’s why I often say that busyness and stress are the enemies of great marriages, families, teams, and visions. Busyness and stress keep us from loving, serving and 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 becomes the last thing on our mind. 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, (because of the unconditional love of dogs). It’s the part of our brain that we activate when we love, serve, 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 serve others before ourselves. 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 the three words that change everything.
Love. Serve. Care.
In each moment we can ask, How can I LOVE right now? How can I SERVE t he p erson i n f ront of me? How can show them that I CARE?
As leaders we tend to focus on all the things that need to get done and all the people that we need to help and yet ironically we often don’t impact the person right in front of us.
The key to overcoming busyness and stress and to become a greater influencer that God created you to be is to Love, Serve, and Care… one person, one moment, one interaction at a time. As a follower of Jesus, I’ve learned that influencing the world starts with influencing the people around you. Impacting millions starts with one. Impacting billions starts with twelve.
When you Love, Serve and Care one person at a time, you’ll not only change your heart, you’ll change hearts and minds around you.
This brings us back to my dog 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 also know the antidote is found in three simple words. I know that in each moment of my busy life I can override the reptile and focus on these three words that will improve my relationships. And I know that when I make relationships my top priority I’m living the life God has called me to live.
When you know better... you do better.
So I sit down and join my sweet dog on the floor and rub her belly. Then I make my way into the kitchen to talk to my wife and kids. It turns out to be the beginning of a positive and productive day.
By: Jon Gordon
Jon Gordon's is the international bestselling author of multiple books including The Energy Bus and his latest release, The Carpenter: A Story About the Greatest Success Strategies of All, which is available now where books are sold and online at www.Carpenter11.com. Connect with Jon on Twitter @jongordon11 and Facebook.Read More Articles by Jon Gordon