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March 17, 2008
Who Do You Run To?
It was 1976. I was in the fifth grade. The 50-yard dash
record for Lake Bluff Elementary School in Shorewood, Wisconsin was set
in the mid-1950s, and I had a chance to break it. I walked past my
classmates and stepped up to the starting line. I looked at my gym
teacher, Mr. Buddy Wolf. He blew his whistle and I took off running,
pumping my legs and arms as fast as I could. Six-point-five seconds
later I leaned into the finish line and heard the click of Mr. Wolf’s
stop watch. I turned around just as fast as I could to hear Mr. Wolf
say: “You just broke the school record!”
My class burst into applause. I jogged back to everyone. My
buddies slapped me on the back and punched me in the arm. I was in
fifth-grade Heaven! And then my thoughts turned to lunchtime. I wanted
to get home to tell Mom, and call Dad at work.
One period later, the lunch bell rang. I sprinted out of the
classroom, down the stairs, out the side door and six blocks to my home.
I opened the back door of the house, turned into the kitchen and saw Mom
plating up a grilled cheese sandwich and a bowl of tomato soup. I kissed
her, and then I told her all about the race, the record and my
classmates cheering. She asked me to tell the whole story from start to
finish, with every detail included. So I acted out what happened. She
clapped. We laughed. She hugged me. And then I called Dad and relived
the whole experience. He was thrilled for me, and it was one of the best
days of my life.
Now, who do you run to in your life? Who helps you celebrate
your achievements? And why do you run to these special people? Why are
they the first on your list? What about these individuals attracts you
UCLA psychology researcher Shelly Gable, University of
Rochester psychology researcher Harry Reis and their colleagues
discovered that there are four principal ways people respond to the good
news of others, and only one of them makes a positive difference in a
They’re “enthusiastic,” they’re “almost more happy and excited than
I am,” and “they ask lots of questions.”
They try “not to make a big deal out of it, but are happy for me,”
or they “say little, but I know they are happy for me.”
They “often find a problem with it,” or they “point out the
potential downsides of the good event.”
They “seem disinterested,” they don’t care much, or they don’t “pay
much attention to me.”
Gable’s and Reis’s research, published in the Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology, uncovered that only people who
respond actively and constructively to your good news have a measurably
positive impact on your enthusiasm, joy and happiness for life. They
further discovered that people who receive active and constructive
feedback in close personal relationships report higher relationship
well-being as indicated by measures of intimacy and marital
So, think about the people you love and care about. Do your
children run to you with good news? Does your spouse? Do your friends?
Do your employees?
Think of the opportunities that you have to help bring out
the best in the people you care about. Think about the joy you can
amplify in their lives when you respond actively and constructively to
their good news. And like my Mom and Dad did for me, think about the
lasting memories you are helping create for the people you love.
Be there for the people you care about. Let your loved ones
run to you.
David J. Pollay. Distributed by North Star Writers Group. May not be
republished without permission.
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