I was having a heart-to-heart recently with a friend and out of the blue she said, “You know what Sandy, at your very core you are a soul searcher.”  That comment sort of blew me away as I always have viewed myself as a little stiff and serious.  The more I thought about her comments, though,  the more I think she is right.  I read books intended to help me unlock the secrets of life, parenthood, my mediation career and so much more.  I am always looking for a better way to do things.  And  the longer I am on this earth, the more I come to realize that satisfaction and improvement in one area of your life tends to bleed into and cause satisfaction and improvement in all areas of your life.

In my constant quest for self-improvement and knowledge, I recently downloaded to my Kindle a book entitled “Positivity: Groundbreaking Research Reveals How to Embrace the Hidden Strength of Positive Emotions, Overcome Negativity and Thrive”, by Barbara Frederickson.  Admittedly it gets a bit clinical and analytical, so I sometimes only read a paragraph before nodding off.  The good parts, though, are really good.  And just as I suspected, this quest for achieving more positivity in my daily life led me to some real nuggets of wisdom in my chosen career, mediation.  This book that I picked up to inspire and enlighten me is enhancing both my home world and my work world.  Serendipity!

The author, Barbara Frederickson, teaches that positivity is catchy – hang around a positive person long enough and watch out, whether you want to or not, you may catch the positivity bug.  I am not talking stare-in-the-mirror-and-make-yourself-smile-for-3-straight-minutes kind of positivity, I mean genuine joy with life, inspiration, smattered with some occasional awe.  You have to feel it at your core for it to spread.  Of great interest to me is the author’s conclusion that “people who come to the bargaining table with a cooperative attitude and friendly spirit – riding on positivity – strike the best business deals.”   Ah, there it is – my revelation!  I can nurture a cooperative attitude and friendly spirit at my mediations, and perhaps that will bleed over into the parties so they too can ride the positivity wave.  You see, according to Barbara Frederickson, positivity broadens your outlook, bringing more positivity into view.  She goes on to say that with positivity, “you’re better able to envision future prospects and win-win solutions.”

So those of you who pull into the parking lot on mediation day knowing your case will not settle, failing to unpack your things at the mediation table because you are so sure of the futile efforts that are about to be made, are working on your own self-fulfilling prophecy.  Try this instead:  Listen to your favorite songs on your way to your mediation.  Think of the breakfast you just had with your adorable kids and picture their smiling faces.  Come to the day with a smile on your face and a song in your heart and maybe, just maybe, your day at mediation will end with your striking the best deal that you have ever made.

Sandra Upchurch is a mediation panelist at the firm of Upchurch, Watson, White and Max. For more information visit Sandra Upchurch’s biography.

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