Wellness — March 26, 2021 at 11:20 am

Keeping It Real


Why is it that no matter how great things are, we can still get sidetracked by negativity? There’s not a single one of us who can claim we’re happy 100% of the time, so honestly, why is it easier for us to believe the self-doubts, to get caught up in the gossiping, or to hang onto past hurts? The media and Hollywood don’t help, showing us that slander spreads farther and faster than feel good stories any day of the week, so do we all have some penchant for the shadowy side of life, or is there something else at work here?

Personally I’m not a big fan of labels, but psychologists call this phenomenon the negativity bias, and well, it traces back to our most primal instincts. When you think about it, keeping an eye out for the bad kept you alive evolutionarily speaking, but studies over the last few years are just starting to show how these responses change our very DNA and then subsequently pass through the generations. Research also shows that bad events elicit greater neurological activity responses in our brains as opposed to their good-vibing counterparts.

The body’s most powerful computer controls decision-making, reasoning, and judgement, so once biased, we start to see people differently, expect poorer outcomes, and eventually because we assume the worst, we can talk ourselves out of even taking the risk. A 2011 report in the National Library of Medicine linked negative biases with depression. Add a global pandemic and it’s no wonder The World Health Organization reports that, “globally, more than 264 million people of all ages suffer from depression [which] at its worst can lead to suicide.” Over the past year help lines have been ringing off the hook across North America, and the Boston University School of Public Health ran a first-ever study that found “27.8% of U.S. adults had depression symptoms as of mid-April [2020], compared to 8.5% before the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Larry Gardner, a charismatic EXIT associate who’s known for his strong attitude of gratitude admits that even he’s had a hard time feeling the “love” over the last year. As a professional in such a public-facing business he’s urging folks in the real estate community to open up the dialogue on mental health.

“In this social media reality and world of constant need to portray confidence no matter what’s truly going on, is it okay to keep it real and let people know that things are a little funky?” he questioned, “Having the best year of my career in full transparency, I’ve been depressed…since September. On a conscious level I’ve felt melancholy, and just haven’t been motivated. I’m starved for so many things I realize now that I took for granted.”

So how does someone like Larry, who’s no stranger to mental illness and a recovering alcoholic for 36 years, keep making the positive come backs? By doing what he just did…talking about it. Realizing and being aware of this change in your feelings and behavior is the first step in changing thinking.

“Keep showing up for yourself no matter what,” Larry implores. “There’s a real need for us all not to be afraid to reach out, because we are all worth it, we are all loved, and we are all amazing!”

Small moves like focusing on what you can learn from those past mistakes that may still haunt you instead of the mistakes themselves or re-framing your thought in the moment when you catch yourself in negative self-talk are great ways to turn the tables. So is the power of affirmations and the use of apps like Prompter! Lucky for us negativity has a kryptonite, and we just so happen to come by it naturally. Make feel-good, endorphin-producing activities like exercising, laughing at good comedy shows and movies, or having an uplifting playlist at your fingertips part of your plan to help shake off the blues.

Steps can also be taken at the brokerage level, for those who own an office looking to lead by example. According to Realtor.org’s Dealing with Mental Illness in the Workplace article, offering mental health coverage to your staff and educating them on those offerings, in addition to aligning with and supporting local mental health organizations are excellent ways to teach staff and help continue to reduce the stigma surrounding depression and other mental illnesses. As an option, see if some programming can be extended to clients because, as many know, not all real estate transactions are a dream come true.

When the time is right, and you’re ready to set some SMART goals and put some good intentions in motion, Larry challenges you to join him in a practice he’s been doing for years, writing a letter to yourself. Each year, he writes a congratulatory letter to himself for all the things he accomplished in his life that year, and the content runs the gamut of personal and professional goals. Using the buddy system, he invites you to mail your letter to him (along with a self-addressed and stamped envelope) so when the year mark rolls around, he can mail it back to you and you can witness the power of manifesting and cultivating your very own positivity. Send your letters to:

EXIT Realty All Pro, c/o Larry Love, 269 West Main Street, Bayshore, NY 11706

Keeping it real means acknowledging the good AND the bad, not joy-washing everything until something or someone (namely you) falls apart. It’s okay to not be okay, just as long as you always know and remember you’re never alone.

By Melanie Robitaille, Sr. Staff Writer and Graphic Designer

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