You hear a lot about happiness, and some of what you hear (money, fame, good looks) actually makes very little difference in happiness for most of us. But the data suggests that positive attitude really does boost well-being.
You might choose to practice positivity at work in these ways:
1. Write down your Best Possible Future at work, looking about three years ahead. This nurtures optimism, which boosts your mood, and that improves brain function, making your best possible future more likely to come true. We do this every year at Happy Brain Science and we love doing it. It’s also interesting to see how our best possible future changes over the years. Some years we get remarkably close to achieving our best possible futures, and I think writing them down is a helpful factor in that success.
2. Savor good moments. You are wired with what scientists call a “negativity bias”. Unpleasant events carry more weight, get more emphasis from our brains. The exact ratio is still to be determined, but evidence suggests it takes many positive events to outweigh a negative one. Overcome this natural wiring in order to be happier. Truly stop, be present, and savor good moments when they happen. You might savor countless things. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Taste and appreciate your morning coffee.
- Make eye contact and smile at a colleague.
- Notice how talented your peers are.
- Cherish the results you produce.
- Really taste the food you eat at work.
- Appreciate a good work challenge when you get one.
3. Spot strengths in others. As an executive coach, I’m trained to listen to people’s energy as they talk. If a client starts talking higher and faster, it indicates rising energy. That means that client is likely describing an activity that uses her strengths–where her performance is high and the work is energizing. If that same client starts talking more slowly and in a lower pitched voice, it may indicate an aspect of work that drains her of energy.
You don’t have to be an executive coach to spot a colleague’s strengths. Watch: when does my colleague perform best or near her best, consistently? What gets her excited? What seems to fill her with energy? Tell your colleagues about the strengths you see.
Survey data shows that most of us are highly motivated by recognition, and that we don’t get enough of it. Having your strengths recognized is one of the most personal and uplifting forms of recognition.
4. Start meetings with recognitions. Start a regular meeting with a few minutes of recognitions, where anyone can express gratitude or kudos to someone else. This is important because recognitions create positive emotions.
The problem in a typical meeting is that negative comments outweigh positive comments. Because we have the “negativity bias”, described above, it takes several positive comments to balance out a negative one.
Starting a meeting with genuine, specific praise creates a high ratio of positive to negative comments. This leads to happier brains doing better, more creative work.
We aren’t wired to focus on the positive. Our “negativity bias” means we tend to pay more attention to what’s wrong than what’s right. But practicing positivity can overcome this natural bias, leaving us happier, more creative, and more resilient as a result.
If you would like more on practicing positivity, please check out our online course.
Scott Crabtree is the Founder and Chief Happiness Officer at Happy Brain Science, He empowers individuals and organizations to apply findings from cutting-edge neuroscience and psychology to boost productivity and happiness at work.
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Tina Hallis, Ph.D. is Chief Positivity Officer of The Positive Edge, a company dedicated to helping people and organizations increase their positivity to improve the quality of people’s work lives and the quality of company cultures. She is certified in Positive Psychology, an authorized partner for Everything DiSC®, and a Professional Member of the National Speaker’s Association