Thermometer or Thermostat?

Which one are you?

I made a commitment several years ago to not watch the news. And it wasn’t just because I disagreed with their viewpoints.  I was angry and judgmental. Nearly all of the time. I realized it was because of what I was being fed on a regular basis. When I looked at it objectively, I was being fed constant negative news and nothing good. I had become so divisive and just generally negative about so many things. It was a cancer in my emotions.

So… I turned it off and never regretted it. 

But I did something a few weeks ago I shouldn’t have done. I was in another country where English was not the primary language and in the evenings when I returned to my hotel room I turned on the TV. One of the only English channels was the news. I turned it on and watched it. At first it was just in the background but within a few minutes I was drawn in by a particular story.

In the next 24 hours I noticed a change in my attitude. I slipped back into my angry attitude very quickly and I was shocked at what a short road it was.

Years ago, when I was consistently watching the news I was allowing an external force to determine my own attitude and views. I allowed them free rental space between my ears. My mood was based on what somebody else told me was going on in the world. If they said it was good, I felt good. If they said it was lousy, my emotions were adjusting to them. 

And then it hit me. 

I had become nothing more than a thermometer.  A thermometer measures the temperature and reports it. It has no will of its own. It doesn’t change anything. It simply reflects what is out there. 

Have you ever struggled with the same thing? I don’t mean the news. I mean your environment at work? School? Church? Social? Yeah… Facebook and Twitter, too?

Is the quality of your day and your emotional state determined by what others say or do to you or around you?


Are you a thermostat? 

A thermostat doesn’t record the temperature. It SETS the temperature. It isn’t affected by the temperature being too cold or hot. It determines what the desired atmosphere will be and sets its intention that way. 

How can we be a thermostat instead of a thermometer?

1. Decide NOW what your day and your emotional state will be. Set your intention!
“Today is going to be a great day!”
“Today will be a day filled with blessings!”
“I choose to be happy for today!”

2. Know who are you and get your identity from reliable sources. As a person of faith, I derive my identity from my relationship to God. My family and close friendships also play a role in this. If you know who you are, you won’t allow others to define you. 

3. Don’t let others determine your emotions. When external forces attempt to sidetrack your intentions, stay with what you know and who you truly are, not with what they’re attempting to saddle you with. They’re attempting to rent space in your head. Don’t let them in! If they’re already in there, EVICT THEM!

I heard Darren Hardy say one time: “Less than 5 people will cry at your funeral and the one factor affecting whether or not they will attend your graveside service will be whether or not it is raining. If someone is critical of me, I always ask myself, ‘Would they cry at my funeral?’ If the answer is no, I dismiss what they’re saying.”

The next time someone is critical of you, ask yourself that same question. Would they cry at your funeral? Do they truly care about you? If not… then don’t let them rent that space and control your temperature!

What about leadership? Leadership is influence. Nothing more. Nothing less. In your workplace, are you a thermostat or a thermometer? Leaders affect the atmosphere wherever they are. The atmosphere doesn’t determine their destiny. They set their intention and their destiny. It only comes through personal growth. The more you grow, the more value you add. The more value you add, the greater your influence. 

Thermometer or Thermostat? It’s your choice!