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How to Be More Positive at Work


If you’ve ever had a negative co-worker, you know the impact a bad attitude can have on others. We are all susceptible to the moods and emotional undercurrents of the people that surround us. So, you probably notice a shift in your own feelings and outlook when you spend too much time around negative people. If this level of contact can have such a big impact, imagine then what getting through the day must be like for the person who’s responsible for spreading those bad vibes.

happy coworkers

(Photo Credit: Cydcor/Flickr)

You’ve likely heard the saying “attitude is everything” – and there just might be something to that. The attitude we project impacts us, the people around us, and our careers, either for better or for worse. So, if you’re feeling a little down, but you know that better things will come if you can turn the corner on this attitude, consider these tips for being a little more positive at work.

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1. Understand why it’s so important.

The first step toward having a more positive attitude is understanding the importance of doing so. Your outlook on the present, and your level of hope for the future, impacts your own mood and the emotions of others. It will also likely affect the way others see you, and therefore the trajectory of your career. Start by understanding that your attitude really does matter; this will help to make improving it a greater priority.

2. Develop an understanding of the power of having an internal locus of control.

Part of the reason why some people just don’t understand the impact their negativity has on their lives is that they’re functioning under an assumption that their life is directed via an external locus of control versus an internal one. Some folks feel that their life and fate is controlled by the world around them, whereas others understand that we can control a lot of what happens in our lives. Once you realize that our behaviors, decisions, and our attitudes cause things to change in our lives, it’s easier to understand the importance of being positive. Folks who are resigned to believing that “things just happen” to them are less apt to regulate themselves because they fail to recognize the importance of doing so.

3. Take your work seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously.

It’s good to take your work seriously. However, if you start to take yourself too seriously too, it can get you into trouble. It’s great that you want to do really well on that project, or you want to run a productive meeting, let’s say – but that doesn’t mean that you are no longer human and incapable of error. Learn to accept that you are imperfect and learn to let your own foibles (or worse) roll off of your back a little easier. Don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s great that you take responsibility for your work, but don’t take yourself too seriously. Learn to laugh things off and let your mistakes go a little easier.

4. Take care of yourself.

It’s a lot easier to jump into negative thought patterns when you’re overtired. So, be sure to get enough sleep. Also, regular exercise and eating healthy foods helps improve mood and outlook. These days, a lot of folks are also embracing wellness practices, like yoga, meditation, etc., to help them feel good. The point is to make taking care of yourself a priority. If you put time into caring for yourself, you’re less likely to be willing to erase that effort and preparation with a negative attitude or bad behavior. Life is busy, but don’t forget that taking care of yourself is actually your first and primary responsibility. And, remember that all good things will follow when you do just that.

5. If nothing helps, consider making a change.

Steve Jobs once said, “…for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘if today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

Sometimes, negativity is trying to tell us something. If you don’t feel good about your work, and if you’ve tried everything you can think of to have a more positive outlook and it just isn’t working, maybe it’s time to look into making a change. Maybe you’d be happier doing something else. Life is too short to walk around feeling miserable.

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What do you do to help yourself to be more positive at work? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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