Even if you love your job, there are times when things get negative. You may get bogged down by an angry customer, a support error, or a feeling of lacking in productivity.

While it’s easy to fall into a slump based off of one negative experience, it can be just as easy to redirect your mind and, instead, focus on the — hopefully more — positive experiences.

In this post, we’ll go over what a positive attitude looks like, the methods you can use to cultivate and keep a positive attitude, and the best quotes that can help you maintain a positive outlook in work and life.

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While having a positive attitude doesn’t necessarily make you less stressed, it can equip you with the tools you need to cope with stress in a healthier way. Let’s take a look at the ways a positive attitude can manifest in your work and personal life.

Why is having a positive attitude important?

If you have a positive mental attitude, you can deal with stress and negative situations in a much healthier way.

For example, you may not fear stress as something physically deprecating and dangerous, but as a means to a greater end. Other benefits include creating actionable goals based on dreams, making and maintaining more positive relationships, and giving your immune system a well-needed boost.

A positive outlook manifests in the following ways:

You’ll be more optimistic.

Having a positive outlook naturally results in a more optimistic view of life. Rather than thinking “the grass is greener on the other side,” you’ll feel that you’re already on greener grass. You’ll see the positive side to most situations, helping you deal with negative events.

You’ll deal with disappointments and failures more easily.

They’ll still be hard, but you’ll cope and bounce back. Not only that, but you can accept that things turned out the way they did, rather than being in denial. Those with a negative attitude will dwell and ruminate over negative events.

You’ll be more empathetic and understanding toward others.

With a positive attitude, you learn to see the thoughts behind people’s actions and why they may have acted the way they did. Rather than jumping to a harmful conclusion, you can understand where people may be coming from.

You’ll be more grateful.

A positive outlook will teach you to be grateful for the good things in your work and life. You’ll approach every day with an appreciative mindset.

Clearly, having a positive attitude is immensely beneficial, yet it’s easier said than done. By adopting some of the following tips, you can maintain a positive attitude through highs and lows and improve your work ethic.

1. Start a gratitude journal.

There’s so much to be grateful for in life, so why not remind yourself of that on a daily basis?

A gratitude journal is a wonderful way to stay positive every day. Once a day, you jot down at least three aspects of your day for which you feel thankful. They can be as small as seeing a cute dog on your way to work or as large as getting an offer for your dream job. Additionally, they can be something that happened to you on that specific day — such as getting yourself a large latte — or something that exists in your life always — like having a family who loves you.

Whatever you want to write is up to you. All that matters is that you’re remembering to feel grateful every day. By retraining your mind to think about all the good things in your life, you can develop a more positive outlook.

2. Treat yourself to some self-care every day.

It’s always important to take care of both your physical and mental health. It can feel overwhelming when you’re working a full-time job that requires you to constantly interact with people — whether they be customers, prospects, co-workers, or managers — in high-pressure situations.

To keep moving forward with a positive attitude, it’s essential that you take a step back and treat yourself to something special. Self-care doesn’t always have to involve a nighttime soak in the bath with candles and a glass of wine — although that sounds lovely, too.

Consider the ways you can unwind, de-stress, and have some “you” time. Some examples are doing a face mask, watching a movie, baking, reading, calling a friend, getting takeout, or even just saying “no” to plans and, instead, staying in. No matter what it is, you should get into the habit of practicing something every day. By allowing yourself these moments of rest, you can ensure a more positive attitude when you’re on the work grind.

3. Start every morning strong.

It’s easier to maintain a positive attitude all day if you implement it right after opening your eyes in the morning. That dreaded moment when the alarm goes off can often lead to irritation, which sets you on the path to have a negative attitude all day.

Instead, think about some ways to make your morning the best part of your day — especially if you’re not a morning person. Consider waking up a half hour or an hour earlier than usual. This means getting into bed earlier, too! Give yourself time to do the things you love but may not always have time for; go for a run, relish in a hot shower, have a cup of coffee, and actually make breakfast (and, no, granola bars and frozen waffles don’t count). Put on your favorite music or show, or even whip out a book and start your morning doing something you love while enjoying a home-cooked meal.

When your morning is more productive and less rushed, you’ll be sure to head to work in higher spirits. That morning glow will spread throughout your day, and then, the cycle can repeat.

4. Avoid spreading gossip.

To many, gossip is their bread and butter. However, the mere act of saying things — whether or not they are true — behind someone’s back that you wouldn’t say to their face is negative. In the workplace, gossip leads to an unstable, unsafe, and disagreeable environment. After all, if you’re spreading rumors about your coworkers, chances are they’re doing the same about you … yikes.

It can be hard to avoid gossip, but simply refuse to get involved. If someone tries to reveal a dramatic story about a coworker, decline and tell them you’d rather not participate. While that may feel odd, you’ll actually find that you feel lighter when not carrying the weight of secrets. And, when you’re not talking about other people, you can feel more confident that others are keeping their lips zipped about you. And that’s a reason to feel optimistic.

5. Crack more jokes.

Humor truly is the best medicine. Laughter has great short-term results on your mindset and body. According to the Mayo Clinic, laughter can increase endorphins, relieve stress, and release tension.

In the long-term, laughter — and the positive thoughts associated with laughter — can release neuropeptides, which fight stress and other serious illnesses. It can also help you cope with difficult situations and make you feel happier. By cracking more jokes, you can make humor out of potentially negative situations at work, and — at the same time — prepare your body and mind for a more positive outlook.

6. Take real breaks.

On a busy, eight-hour day, it can sometimes be difficult to find time for a serious break. That means leaving the workspace, having a meal, and putting away all work-related information. You are legally allowed to have a break, and you should never feel like that rest period is jeopardized.

Working for eight hours straight can make you feel sluggish and irritated. A break — even for 30 minutes — can re-energize you and make you more motivated to continue your work for that day. Give yourself time to refuel your positivity, and you’ll be sure to end the day on a better note.

7. Have something to look forward to after work.

You may be tired after a long day of work, but having something planned after 5 p.m. can make the day look a little brighter. Whether it be with your coworkers, family, or friends, a night of fun can make the day go by a lot faster.

Your plans don’t always have to involve going out for drinks or dinner. Even planning a Netflix marathon can put a silver lining on your workday. The point is to craft your days to be more than just “work.” By penciling in some fun time several days a week, you can find a healthy way to balance your personal and professional life.

8. Practice meditation.

Practicing meditation can do a lot to decrease stress and anxiety, as well as improve mental and spiritual health. Proper meditation can decrease workplace anxiety for those in high-pressure work environments, such as in customer support or service.

Even five minutes a day is a great start to a meditation routine. Practice deep breathing and clearing your mind. Simple methods like this are effortless and will help you find balance in your life, as well as let go of the negativity and stress that you may experience on a daily basis.

9. Focus on the long-term instead of the short-term.

When a conflict arises — either with a coworker or with a customer — your immediate reaction might be to jump to the defense. You want to protect yourself and garner respect, which is a good thing. However, the more conflicts in which you partake, the more negativity will surround your life.

Instead, take a second to step back and view the situation from a third-party perspective. Will participating in this conflict be beneficial in the long run? Or, will it simply cause unnecessary stress and negativity at the moment?

Often, a customer is simply having a bad day, or a coworker is facing stress. Rather than snapping back, you can practice empathy. This might help you get to the root of the problem and end the conversation on a positive, lighter note.

10. Listen to music that matches your mood.

It seems ironic, but sad music may actually help boost your mood. According to a research study, many people tune into sad songs as a form of mood enhancement. Many consider sad music to be “beautiful,” which helps people feel better. In addition, sad songs can invoke memories, distract from negative situations, and carry strong messages.

A different study states that sad music might evoke positive moods because sadness somehow feels satisfying and cheerful when experienced through art. So, listening to sad music might just lift your mood during or after a long, tough workday. Cue up some Adele, and let your negative mood disappear.

When you practice the above tips, you’ll find your attitude much improved. And you’ll find that it comes out through your actions, too. Take a look at some examples of what a positive attitude can look like in your work and daily life.

1. Looking at the Bright Side After Getting Laid Off

If you’ve ever been laid off, then you know how unpleasant it is. You feel like your worth has been brought into question because you weren’t important enough to stay on the company’s payroll. Even if it wasn’t by anyone’s choice but rather a result of financial instability, it can be disheartening, especially if you have family to take care of.

Armed with a positive outlook, you would:

  • Let yourself feel the pain and grief of losing your job. Having a positive outlook doesn’t mean not feeling badly; it means getting up after life gets you down.
  • Create a plan and take care of the basics, such as securing unemployment benefits.
  • Start a new hobby or side business, or do things that having a job prevented you from doing.
  • Practice self-care to remind yourself of your value.
  • Read a book, start a new show or podcast, or seek another stimulating pastime. Maybe you can be the stay-at-home parent and take care of the kids.
  • Start applying for jobs with the hope of securing better pay, better benefits, or a better work environment.

2. Practicing Self-Care after a Failure at Work

After messing up at work, it’s easy to feel downtrodden and dwell on the failure. Maybe you didn’t prepare a presentation well enough, your disorganization got in the way of your productivity, or your manager once again had to meet with you about your performance.

To face this situation with a positive attitude, you would:

  • Accept that you could’ve done better, but that the only way to go now is up.
  • Treat yourself with as much compassion and understanding as if a colleague had made this mistake, and you were looking at it as a bystander.
  • Practice self-care to avoid overthinking and remind yourself of your value.
  • Let it go and know that you can always do better.
  • Create an internal improvement plan so that this mishap doesn’t happen again.

3. Meditating When Feeling Overwhelmed at Work

Does this sound familiar? You have twenty clients to follow-up with, a presentation due just this week, and a meeting with higher-ups about your team’s performance. In this situation, nearly anyone would feel overwhelmed. Even if the details are different, we’ve all felt in over our heads at one time or another.

A person with a positive attitude would deal with this situation by meditating or finding another coping mechanism. You would also:

  • Take inventory of everything you have to do and prioritize them by importance.
  • Reach out to your manager to let them know you’ll need more time, if possible.
  • Practice self-care and understand that your productivity at work doesn’t define your worth.
  • Postpone what can be postponed and do what must be done now.
  • Get up earlier than usual to have a few more hours in the day to catch up on work.
  • Unwind in the evening by reading, exercising, or watching a comfort show.

4. Finding Worthwhile Pastimes While Stuck in Traffic

Road rage is, well, all the rage — especially if you live in a congested area. Will you get angry and try to merge from lane to lane so you can find the one that’s going more quickly?

With a positive outlook, you would:

  • Accept that there’s nothing you can do about traffic, and that getting angry hurts you more than anything else.
  • Take a few deep breaths while at the wheel and slow down the speed of the vehicle.
  • Find a podcast on your favorite music player, or listen to music you’ve never listened to before.
  • Think about your tasks for the upcoming day and make additional plans if necessary.
  • Call up a friend or family to help pass the time.

As you can see, having a positive attitude helps immensely even when facing something as major as a layoff or as minor as traffic.

Below, you’ll find some positive attitude quotes you can bookmark to help you maintain your positive attitude.

Positive Attitude Quotes

  1. "Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose." - Lyndon B. Johnson
  2. "A good laugh is sunshine in the house." - William Makepeace Thackeray
  3. "If you're not making mistakes, then you're not doing anything. I'm positive that a doer makes mistakes." - John Wooden
  4. "Every day brings new choices." - Martha Beck
  5. "If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude." - Maya Angelou
  6. "Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure." - Oprah Winfrey
  7. "You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them." - Maya Angelou
  8. "Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will." - Zig Ziglar
  9. "You cannot have a positive life and a negative mind." - Joyce Meyer
  10. "People deal too much with the negative, with what is wrong. Why not try and see positive things, to just touch those things and make them bloom?" - Thich Nhat Hanh

Keep a Positive Attitude to Improve Your Work Life

Now that you’re equipped with all the tools, tips, and mantras you need, you can set yourself on a path to a positive, refreshing attitude on life. And maybe, just maybe, this will help you find more happiness in your work life, allowing you to be more productive and face failures head-on.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in October 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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Originally published Apr 29, 2021 5:00:00 PM, updated June 09 2021

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