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'Bust through blues' with positive attitude
Maj. Evelyn Schumer is the deputy director of the Air Force Academy Commander's Action Group. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Veronica Cruz)
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'Bust through blues' with positive attitude

Posted 12/10/2012   Updated 12/10/2012 Email story   Print story


Commentary by Maj. Evelyn Schumer
Commander's Action Group deputy director

12/10/2012 - U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- At the end of each day, I ask myself: Is the universe a happier and better place because of my existence?

I'm sure we've all had an experience like the one I had last week. I was waiting in line at the grocery store behind someone who was extremely rude to the cashier. When it was finally my turn to checkout, the cashier was in a crummy mood and started taking it out on me.

I had a choice: I could allow the rude cashier to upset me and be rude back, or I could choose to suppress my rising blood pressure, put on my best smile, and show the cashier some compassion for having to put up with rude customers.

So, with the sweetest smile I could muster, I said, "I'm sorry you have to put up with customers like that. I hope your day gets better."

With that simple statement, which took less effort than it would have to be rude back, the cashier was back to her cordial, friendly self.

In moments like these we all can make a difference and make our environment a more positive place. As an instructor at the Academy, I saw how easily and quickly the negativity of one cynical person could spread throughout an entire classroom. It seems, from my experience, that it takes less effort to merely go along with the attitude of those around you than to take responsibility for your own attitude.

If your goal is to make your environment pleasant, you will inevitably find yourself treating those around you with respect and compassion -- which will set into motion a chain reaction of kindness and compliments.

When you treat people well, they will want to be around you because you reinforce their happiness. When you treat someone with respect and kindness, it boosts your own happiness as well. Try it: Give someone a genuine compliment and watch how they light up. Also, note the positive feelings you experience by being kind to someone else. The recipient of the praise feels more confident, is a bit happier, and is now more open to compliment someone else. The chain reaction has begun.

I use the compliment chain-reaction to help myself bust through the blues of a rough day. I've seen the power of compliments from the boss throughout my career: One positive comment can do so much for a worker's confidence and attitude.

A positive demeanor can only make you more effective as a leader.I see proof of this everyday working in Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Mike Gould's office. Simply by popping his head into the office and saying, "Hey, guys, that went well," he puts huge grins on all our faces and leads to high-fives being exchanged around the office. The boost spurs us to work harder for that next compliment.

People often gravitate toward a positive attitude and shun negativity. Leaders have the opportunity and duty to be role models and strengthen the resiliency of their troops.

Being happy and positive may take more effort on some days, but you can make being happy a habit. Something as small as how you interact with a complete stranger can set into motion a chain reaction of negativity or positivity.

We are masters of our own actions and emotions. We can make the universe a happier and better place.

4/9/2013 3:35:47 PM ET
Nice job Ev
Dhoff, California
12/21/2012 6:13:36 AM ET
There's a smiling face I didn't expect to see in my inbox this morning Thanks Ev Blue skies...
PTWOB 134, Atlanta GA
12/20/2012 7:50:34 PM ET
I worked with Major Dr. Shummer for two and a half years. I can assure you that she actually lives that positive attitude modus every dayWay to go Evelyn
Tom Colorado, Colorado
12/19/2012 9:32:29 AM ET
@Maj E Schumer I liked the article but your followup comment was even better. One of my favorite quotes comes from Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson...We are all connected To each other biologically. To the earth chemically. To the rest of the universe atomically.....it comes from a longer quote but that probably wouldn't fit here.
Michael McCoy, Tyndall AFB
12/18/2012 11:47:26 AM ET
Maj P please don't feed those trolls lolThanks Maj S for your simple but well stated article. We can all use a bit more happiness and goodwill in our lives.
MSgt Thompson, Scott AFB
12/18/2012 11:12:13 AM ET
Great article...and great words to live by. Our World is getting harder and harder to live in and it is imperative to keep a positive attitude. People like Maj Home for a change and it's a good thing you are at home so your negativity doesn't rub off on others...and I really hope you're not a Major will live a sad lonely life and I feel bad for them We need more leaders with Maj Schumer's outlook. Our Air Force would be a much more pleasant and prosperous environment. Happy workers....happy quota
SSgt, Denver
12/18/2012 9:49:53 AM ET
@Maj P-Concur.
Steve, Midwest
12/17/2012 7:34:57 AM ET
Who you are and everything you do influences those around you. Some call it karma. I'm a physicist by trade and I've come to realize the universe really isn't as gigantic as many think...everything is connected. Your existence leaves a mark on the universe no matter how small. One of my favorite quotes is the universe never forgets.
Maj E Schumer, USAF Academy
12/17/2012 1:30:05 AM ET
@Maj Home for a change - You are exactly the kind of person Maj Schumer was talking about. Able to take the people around you to new depths of cynicism and pessimism and only because it seems to make you feel superior. I feel sorry for the people that work for you.
Maj P, Remote
12/14/2012 7:42:41 PM ET
Hey look at me. I work for a General. I can write articles about stupid stuff while the rest of the Air Force toils away hacking the mission. I will get promoted while a lot of you will not. Yay
Maj, Home for a change
12/14/2012 7:26:26 AM ET
Her smile would brighten my day.
Arctic Warrior, Peterson AFB CO
12/12/2012 5:08:02 PM ET
I don't aspire to influence the universe but I admire your perspective. It's never the adversity one faces....it's the reaction to the adversity.
Mark Jennings, Colorado Springs CO..
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