My work puts me on the road a lot to the Front Range of Colorado. The Front Range is loosely defined as the two major metro areas of Denver and Colorado Springs and outlying communities you’ve likely heard of like Golden, Ft. Collins and Boulder. All are in generally flatter lands nestled against the Rockies before the mountains just up and so I jokingly call the Front Range “West Kansas.” Mountain envy is fun to inspire ????
Living four hours from the Front Range in a County of 16,000 people in one of the largest counties in Colorado means lots of open space and a trip to “The Big Cities” of Denver or Colorado Springs means many things…..cultural offerings, shopping aplenty, traffic aplenty, culture shock and in the case of September…..HEAT! So hot.
Tangent: One thing we don’t see a ton of in the high-country of the Gunnison Valley are a lot of homeless people, especially in the winter. Our long and brutally cold winters chases off those without housing and even many of those who have housing but don’t want 7 months of winter. What we do see is the occasional summer transient and our little valley loves talking about their personalities and we take their passing (R.I.P. Cowboy) as if losing a community member.
The work of Dr. Marty Seligman talks about happiness resulting from an acronym he calls PERMA: Positive Emotions – Engagement – Relationships – Meaning – Accomplishment
On a very simplistic scale of -10 (deeply depressed) to +10 (elated) most of us will fall into the +3 to +8 range. My work focuses on keeping people at +8 instead of +3 with tools, techniques and skills to keep them from sliding down the scale.
Where I don’t work is with a population where it’s needed so desperately. What struck me about my Front Range trip to Colorado Springs was how the homeless/opiod/mental health crises are at a scale I couldn’t have guessed and ironically so in your face. Zipping around on my mountain bike on the greenbelt along the Fountain Creek and Bear Creek showed me a side of Colorado I rarely see in my mountain town. Permanent camps. Trash beyond count. Deep destitution. Those visions of suffering pain me and serve as reminder of how fortunate we have it.
Full-Circle: A few days later I returned home to life at 9000’ feet and went fly fishing on “Secret Creek” near the aptly named mountains making up Paradise Divide with my dogs in tow and my feet dipped in the still very cold waters of the creek – or maybe it’s a River, I’ll never tell! – counting my blessings and grateful for the path I’m on.
Finding your passions, taming brain chemistry and workplace culture isn’t a cure for depression or addiction. I leave those challenging tasks to others. However, I am thrilled with my role of keeping you and your team at +8 by addressing isolation, disconnection and dysfunction in the workplace. Finding meaning in our work and our lives isn’t always easy or simple or without discomfort but it’s sooooo worth it!
Anthony Poponi is an energetic presenter, a jokester from birth, and self-admitted lover of downtowns as much as wild spaces. He specializes in putting joy in our workplaces and in our communities through workshops and keynotes that leave his audiences buzzing. Being a hard act to follow on stage is always his goal.