Are You a Thermometer or a Thermostat?

You've got them in your house, but have you ever thought about what truly differentiates the thermometer from the thermostat?

The thermometer in your home reads the room and adjusts to the external surroundings. It's controlled by factors outside of itself. 

The thermostat is set and remains steady no matter what the external conditions are. The controls are internal and constant.

To understand why I'm talking about the HVAC system in your home, when my typical subject matter isn't focused on climate control, I'd like you to consider these common life events. How do you respond to them? Are you a thermometer or a thermostat? 

  • You couldn't get in to see your doctor for three months, and the day of the appointment arrives. Your appointment is scheduled for 2:00pm, and you get there early to check in. As you settle in to the seat in the waiting room, you notice others are being taken back their rooms. And you wait. And you wait. And you wait. Finally at 3:30 a nurse calls your name and takes you back to the exam room. You get changed into the paper gown. And you wait... again. Your doctor eventually rolls into your room around 4:00pm. ARGH! Is your reaction more like a thermometer or a thermostat?


  •  It's Wednesday evening, and you've had a relatively good day at work. You're feeling fine and you're happy to be home. However, things quickly change when you open the door from the garage to the house. You can almost taste the tension in the air. Your four year old twins are arguing over who's turn it is with the shared iPad. And your spouse is yelling at your oldest... "Turn off the tv and find your soccer equiptment. If we don't leave in 5 minutes, we'll be late!". Thermometer or thermostat?

In our busy, sometimes frenetic days, it's so easy to get caught up in reacting to the "temperature of the room". Without thinking about it, we often soak in other people's emotions and before we know WE'RE the ones taking on the stress and overwhelm that wasn't ours to begin with. 

It's a natural response to react like a thermometer. 

However, constantly reacting to, and being pushed and pulled by other people's moods and agendas gets exhausting. And it's not just tiring. Our physical health takes a huge hit when we absorb other people's stuff. 

So what's our protection against the constant barrage of emotional shrapnel in our everyday world?

Be a thermostat rather than a thermometer. 

Thermostat people have an internal locus of control. They know they have the power to control how they respond, no matter what's going on around them. Their reactions are controlled and they are not affected by external factors. 

Thermostat people are resilient. 

Resilient people are happy.

Resilient people find joy in life. 

Joyful people also are good at practicing self care. Click to access a self-care checklist to establish your baseline. 

Here are 3 tips to increase your happiness and resilience (to become a thermostat) on your morning commute.

  1. Walk or bike to work. It's all about the locus of control again. Those who walk or bike to work arrive happier and are more energized than those who don't.
  2. When you drive to work, choose to take that time for self-reflection. Rather than gripping the steering wheel and engaging in an inner dialogue of complaints and expletives, try thinking about what you're grateful for. Choose to listen to the music you love, or podcasts that inspire you. All of these choices are reminders of our locus of control.
  3. And lastly, if you use public transportation, chat it up with fellow commuters. Studies have shown that those who interacted with others had a more pleasant commute and arrived to work happier than those who had no personal interactions. Actual conversations were shown to increase happiness more than the common texts and email interactions we've grown accustomed to.  

The next time I feel the temperature rise in my house, and I go to adjust my thermostat... I'm going to be reminded that I can have that same power. 

No matter what's happening around me, I've got the power to remain cool and comfortable. And so do you. 


Lisa Bobyak, Living Fully Balanced, and creator of The Complete Living Fully Balanced Program, helps busy women balance their lives and create space for what matters most. Because she’s overcome unexpected challenges herself, and thrived in spite of them, Lisa is compelled to help others do the same. She's created the Living Fully Balanced Approach as a systematic framework to help women increase their energy, decrease their stress and create balance… by their own definition. Creating balance in your life can begin by understanding of your self-care baseline. To understand yours, click here for your self-assessment. And, if now’s the time for you to truly live fully and feel balanced while you do it, Schedule a time for your Breakthrough Session with Lisa.