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HERd Management: Five tips for being more positive

Christina Winch for Progressive Dairy Published on 30 April 2020

If you were to look the word “happy” up in the dictionary, you would find a few different definitions. They include:

  • Feeling or showing pleasure
  • Having a sense of confidence
  • Satisfied with the quality of something

We all know the past few years have been tough for farmers. It’s all over the headlines. More than one farmer was excited to flip the calendar and see the year 2020. As the calendar flipped, happiness seemed to abound. This all took centre stage on Jan. 7 when I walked through the doors of the Belmont Convention Center in Belmont, Wisconsin, and was surrounded by a sea of orange. Orange was everywhere – tablecloths, the clothing people were wearing, centerpieces, fun accessories for us to wear, and even orange chicken was served for lunch.

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Why was the room decked out in orange, of all colours, you ask? No, it wasn’t to celebrate some athletic team; it was to celebrate happiness. Our in-service for Southwest Wisconsin Technical College was the Orange Frog Advantage Program.

The Orange Frog Advantage is based on the book The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor. In the parable of the orange frog, a frog named Spark (who just happens to be orange) spreads happiness across the island. As he spreads this happiness around, teamwork improves, morale improves, and relationships grow stronger. As we went through the day, not only did we learn the facts from numerous studies on happiness, but we also learned things to incorporate into our daily routine to grow in our appreciation of happiness. Before I share them with you, let’s backtrack a moment.

I am guilty of getting so caught up in the daily grind of work on and off the farm, escorting kids to their activities and my volunteer activities, that I often forget to stop and smell the roses. This has caused my anxiety to rise, depression to seep in and my health to go backward. This has become a common theme across the country. As I think back on 2019, through all those tough times, it really was a good year.

Our family took a vacation to the Grand Canyon. Our cows increased milk production from 30 kilograms per cow per day to 40 kilograms. I became a certified John Maxwell speaker and coach. I got to see my cousin get married in Seattle. I watched all three of my boys show at World Dairy Expo while bringing home some impressive hardware. And my family is healthy.

As we move into 2020, I want to take these positive reflections and keep adding to them. By incorporating the techniques to focus on the happy things in life, I hope to not get caught up in the downward spiral that causes me to be a pessimist. I want my friends and family to be happy too. So what are some of the things research recommends?

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1. Keep a gratitude journal. Write at least three things a day you are thankful for. Thanks to a friend’s recommendation, I am using an app called Happyfeed to record my items of thanksgiving. I have a reminder set on it to remind me to fill it in.

2. Meditate daily. It doesn’t have to be long, even just a few minutes counts. This is the one I committed to during my Orange Frog Training for at least 21 days. I didn’t do very well at it, but I am still trying to work it in throughout my week.

3. Exercise daily. Research recommends at least 15 minutes a day.

4. Do a random act of kindness daily.

5. Keep a journal documenting daily activities.

Even when times are tough on the farm, by staying positive and focusing on the good things around us, we can put on a happy face. So I challenge you to listen to Pharrell Williams’ song “Happy,” choose something small to add to your daily routine, and focus on the happy things in life.  end mark

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Christina Winch
  • Christina Winchk

  • Dairy Producer
  • Fennimore, Wisconsin
  • Email Christina Winch

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