Even if you love your job, there are times when things get a bit 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 one negative experience, it can be just as easy to redirect your mind and, instead, focus on the -- hopefully more -- positive experiences.
In general, having a positive attitude means being optimistic about situations, interactions, and yourself.
People with positive attitudes can remain hopeful and see the best even in difficult situations. In contrast, those with negative attitudes may be more pessimistic and disagreeable, and typically expect the worst possible outcome in tough situations.
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. Those individuals 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 even give your immune system a well-needed boost.
Clearly, having a positive attitude is pleasing, yet it may seem easier said than done. However, by adopting some of the following tips, you can maintain a positive attitude through highs and lows and improve your work ethic.
10 Creative Ways to Keep a Positive Attitude
1. Start a gratitude journal.
There’s so much for which to be grateful 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 with little to no effort. Once a day, you can 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 from your dream job. In addition, 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 -- such as 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 often high-pressure situations.
In order to keep moving forward with a positive attitude, it’s essential that you take a step back sometimes and treat yourself to something special. Self-care is all the rage these days -- for good reason. And, it 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, 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 pure bliss and 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 when you open your eyes. 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 a 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 your delicious, 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 to you a dramatic story about a coworker, simply decline and tell them you’d rather not participate. While that may feel odd to do, 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, generally, 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.
In 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 wine night with friends or 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. A research study compared the brains of those who practiced mindfulness meditation -- a style of meditation -- and those who didn’t. The results showed that those who practiced the meditation showed changes in brain activity in areas focused on optimism and positive thinking.
Another study showed that meditation was able to decrease anxiety in health care professionals. This means that proper meditation may help decrease workplace anxiety for those in other 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.
Now that you’re equipped with all the creative tools 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, too.
To learn more, read this article about phone etiquette next.
Originally published Oct 4, 2018 8:00:00 AM, updated October 30 2019