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All About You: Be at home in your head

Richard Hawk

EDITOR’S NOTE: Motivating employees to work safely is part of the safety professional’s job. But who motivates the motivator? In this monthly column, veteran safety pro and professional speaker Richard Hawk offers his entertaining brand of wisdom to inspire safety pros to perform at their best.

Where do you live?

When asked this, I usually respond with, “In South Jersey, about 45 minutes south of Philadelphia.”

No doubt you’ve responded similarly (with a different location, of course).

But that isn’t where you “live.” Your mind is your place of residence. I travel often, and whether in Canada or Dubai, I’m still at home inside my head. It’s what makes me, well, me. I’ve realized that I still live inside my mind, whether I’m in my house in New Jersey or a hotel room. That’s why I work on making my full-time home (my mind) a pleasant and exciting place to stay. How do you make your mind a fine “home”? Here are three ways to do that.

Pay attention to your thoughts

Be diligent about removing negative thoughts from your mind. It helps if you have awareness about this and a determination to stay as positive as you reasonably can. Sometimes, I’ll snap out of a worry rabbit hole and be surprised how far I went down in distress. Then, I’ll resolve to pay better attention to the thoughts that arise. Regularly doing this will help you avoid the hole in the first place.

Other times I’ll purposefully think about positive events, goals, experiences and the wonder of being alive. Your thoughts may pop up without control, but you can purposefully think about whatever you want, whenever you want, even during dire times.

Thought control requires consistent attention and time before you become adept at thinking positive thoughts, but it’s well worth the effort.

Don’t allow inconveniences to disturb you

Three things bother our minds: tragedy, setbacks and inconveniences. You might think the first two cause the most total stress throughout our lives, but according to researchers, inconveniences top the list of total lifetime mental agony. Certainly, tragedy and setbacks create much anguish, but the daily prickle of inconveniences significantly top the other two.

So, don’t let inconveniences bother you. I know that’s easier said than done, but I’ve learned to recognize that inconveniences are only slight changes from what I expect. They’re certainly not important and not worth allowing them to cause mental anguish.

Appreciate simple experiences

Most mornings, when I’m home, I have a cup of coffee with my wife. We laugh together a lot. It’s usually over silly things, but I treasure it every time it happens. When you realize that most of your joys in life stem from simple events, you start to notice them throughout your life.

The same goes for my work as a safety pro. I’ve often had fun giving pre-job briefings because of the lighthearted banter between everybody attending, especially before we started. The camaraderie was delightful and, invariably, somebody would say something that got a good laugh.

No matter what stimulation is pouring into your senses, your mind arranges it to create your “umwelt,” which is how you subjectively experience the world. Although you don’t have total control over that, you have some cognitive influence on how you feel about the sensations you notice. If you see something and think it’s beautiful, it’ll uplift you. Conversely, if you think, “That’s ugly,” you’ll feel more somber. It’s up to you. It’s your house. I prefer to try to view all experiences as something miraculous.

Our minds are extraordinary, and we have more control over them than we sometimes realize. Like a front porch where you can sit and watch the world go by, purposely noticing the wonder of your life in all its intricacies is a fine way to enjoy being alive, no matter where your body resides.

This article represents the views of the author and should not be considered a National Safety Council endorsement.

Richard Hawk helps leaders inspire employees to care more about their safety and health so “nobody gets hurt.” He also has a long history of success getting safety leaders to increase their influence and make safety fun. For more than 35 years, Richard’s safety keynotes, training sessions, books and “Safety Stuff” e-zine have made a positive difference in the safety and health field. Learn more about how Richard can improve your employees’ safety performance at

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