Beware the creeping crabbiness

Emotional Intelligence

One component of emotional intelligence is cultivating the ability to stop and observe ourselves – to step out of our own way – and to observe what drives our behaviors. I noticed something interesting about myself this week that, I think, will benefit me and everyone around me.

I spend the bulk of my workday alone in a cube. There’s a window above my desk, and office chatter but, as I squeeze through the portal into my cube, those are the sole remaining vestiges of humanity. It’s meaningful work that I enjoy, feeling like I contribute to the good of the world. I work with good and smart people for a company that pays well and gives good benefits. The company labels me as a Senior Scientist, meaning that I’m good at answering questions, good at looking stuff up, and am charged with writing reports about a very narrow range of environmental concerns. For most hours of my working day, I write or read scientific arcana.

Getting outside

Lately, I’ve been purposefully venturing outside my cube. Last week, I spent a couple of half-days walking down environmental sample points, and this week, I’ve been spending time in one of our labs. I’m generally optimistic, but notice that sitting alone in my cube, a kind of creeping crabbiness is easy to glom onto. People around me complain, or I get irritated with some assignment, and it’s just easy to go along with the hovering bad mood. Getting outside helps. I’m energized and interested and engaged and am plain happier when part of my week includes getting outside.

I’ve written about this from another vantage, and it’s no surprise to me. Wayne Dyer, when he was a practicing therapist, said that when people came to him complaining of depression, he always tried to get them outside for a bike ride or to shoot some basketball. “It’s hard to stay depressed when you’re active,” he would say.

So, I will take some of my own medicine and tromp through the woods when I can. It’s good for me and probably good for the folks who work with me, too.


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