Q: My coworkers and I are scared. The boss keeps talking about how tough things are, and it seems like all we hear about on the news is how things are going from bad to worse. At work we talk about not being able to sleep, about how our relationships are suffering, and we just don’t see anything positive happening soon. This stinks, but what can we do?

A: We are living in a very challenging era, and our emotions can get the best of us. I was recently in a meeting with several large agricultural producers in southern California, and the speaker commented on how people were being too emotional about the situation — and not paying attention to the broader view. He said, “The facts in this economic situation are like the busboys at ‘Hooters’ — nobody pays any attention to them either.”

When we’re emotional, our thought process tends to be like a bowl of spaghetti, with everything woven together without any clear organization or direction. When we are calm and logical, our thoughts are more like a waffle, with a noticeable structure and clear objectives.

If you sincerely want to change your attitude, then you need to change your inputs. Many of the successful people I know have told me that the most significant action they take every day is controlling what goes into their minds. Three key inputs matter — what you read, what you hear and what you see. If the TV news is negative and making you depressed, shut it off and go read something inspiring, enriching or humorous. If the people you are around are gloomy and miserable, find someone who is positive and encouraging.

You can change your social environment at work in the same way, by replacing the negative inputs and choosing to create a positive atmosphere by talking about positive things that are happening in the lives of you and your coworkers and sharing fun and inspiring stories.

If you have questions for Dear Boss, send them to:

Don Tyler, P.O. Box 67, Stockwell, IN47983or e-mail to don@dontyler.com.

Your letter will remain confidential, and may or may not get an individual reply.