by Elliott Kronenfeld

I have had patient after patient come into my office talking about what a harsh and relentless winter this has been.  I can’t agree more!  It is always interesting to see how people talk about the weather.  There are two classic perspectives that get presented:  How cold it is on the thermometer and how much energy is being used by the thermostat.  What an interesting way to understand ourselves as well!

So… let’s take a look at this.  The difference between a thermometer and a thermostat is quite significant.  A thermometer reads the temperature and goes up and down based on the outside stimulus it receives.  In essence, it is quite a passive and reactive tool.  A thermostat operates differently.  It reads the temperature and then responds based on the stimulus received.  Too warm and the air conditioning goes on…Too cold and up comes the heat!  It is not passive at all, but rather quite responsive.

We also have the option of deciding whether or not we are a thermometer or a thermostat in our lives.  When we live like a thermometer, we live by default.  We just react to whatever is put in front of us.  Do you ever wonder how you got to this place? How you ended up in this relationship and don’t know how to affect to make you feel more gratified so you just coast along? How many times have you sat at work thinking “If I only…”?  These are signs that you are merely reacting to stimulus and are not controlling what is going on in your life.

When you decide to live your life like a thermostat, you begin to live by design.  You start to make choices to change your environment and the stimulus you are faced with.  You challenge yourself to face the stimulus and say “This is not the situation I want it to be, I need to turn up the heat (or cool things off) so that I am more pleased with what is happening to me.”  This requires – just like with your thermostat – an expenditure of energy that is in direct proportion to the situation.  Too much heat and that isn’t good.  Too cool and the heat will just go on again.  Being able to regulate yourself in direct measure to your challenge is the goal.

Want to know more about being a thermostat and not a thermometer?  Contact Elliott at

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