While life has its fair share of wonderful and happy moments, it can also be exhausting and present major roadblocks. Navigating the world while trying to stay positive can be challenging, especially at work. There are tasks to accomplish, deadlines to meet and sometimes a variety of personalities existing in the same space. In a survey of 2,000 people, 69% wished they could be more positive (SWNS Digital). The good news is that embodying a more positive attitude doesn’t always require much effort. Today, we will explore 5 ways to add a bit more positivity in your work life.
1. Find Your “Why”
There is always at least one reason we have a job. It could be as simple as the necessity to pay bills or provide for a family. It could also be to help others, make the world a better place or chase a passion. Identifying your “why” can actually be a nice reminder and motivator for why you do what you do. It can be easy to get caught up in the grind of day to day life, but remembering why we have a certain job or jobs encourages us to stop and reflect. This reflection might just provide the reminder we need to get us back on track, or it can help us recognize that it’s time to change jobs and begin a new chapter.
“Teaching can be very rigorous and time consuming. It’s very easy to become burnt out,” says Jennifer, a middle school teacher. “Every morning I try to remind myself why I’m here: to make a positive difference in my students’ lives and try to make learning more fun.” Jennifer’s “why” helps her find the light during difficult times.
However, sometimes a “why” can be as basic as paying a bill or putting food on the table. Your “why” does not necessarily need to be tied to a passion. There is a lot of emphasis on finding a career that sparks a “passion,” but this belief can actually lead to negativity. While it’s great to have goals and dreams, not everybody can pinpoint a passion that is also a job.
James, an airline employee, says, “I used to stress all the time, because I felt like I was wasting my life if I didn’t have a job that felt perfect. The truth is that this mindset blocked me from seeing that my current job, while not necessarily my passion, provided flexible hours and great benefits.”
Sometimes, a job is just a job, and that’s okay. Sometimes, our “why” is for simple or even necessary reasons. Sometimes, our job is a passion or a combination of both passion and necessity. Don’t forgot that jobs can also allow us the opportunity to pursue our passions and hobbies during off hours. At the end of the day, our personal “why” can provide a positive outlook while motivating us to keep moving forward or make necessary changes.
2. Create Something to Look Forward To
Preparing for the work day doesn’t have to be gloomy, especially if you give yourself a little treat. Many people find comfort in their morning cup of coffee, while others look forward to a workout that will boost their mood. There are so many little ways to give yourself something to feel excited about during the work day.
For instance, Kelly orders a favorite meal every Friday after work. She chooses a movie at the beginning of the week to accompany her favorite meal. She puts a post-it on her computer with a countdown until her favorite meal and movie night. While it’s simple, it makes her excited and gives her something to look forward to.
Xavier looks forward to popping in his headphones and listening to his favorite podcasts while cranking out his work. “Knowing I can listen to something interesting while getting my work done is incredibly motivating. I zone out distractions and zero in on my tasks, while enjoying something at the same time.”
Having something to look forward to, no matter how big or small, brings a little joy to the day and also boosts productivity. Podcasts, a short walk, getting some fresh air, calling a loved one, or planning a nice surprise for yourself at the end of the week are all small yet effective ways to reward yourself and thank yourself for your hard work.
3. Have a Snack!
One major reason for grumpiness and negativity is often that we’re just a bit…well, hangry. It happens to the best of us, and sometimes we get so enmeshed in what we are doing that we forget to provide our bodies the nutrients and nourishment they deserve. Eating is not just for designated meal times. A quick snack like celery and hummus or a nutritional bar can be both a treat to look forward to and a way to boost energy.
Even a piece of candy can be exciting on dreary day, or it can make a great day even better. When we were kids, we had snack time for a reason, and it doesn’t have to end just because we become adults.
“It is almost inevitable that my stomach growls a couple hours before my designated lunch break,” says Jackson. “I used to try to ignore it and work through, but then my hunger just distracted me, so I ended up losing focus and just focusing on the clock getting closer to my lunch break. I started bringing a cheese stick and a few crackers, and it became the perfect boost of energy I needed before my lunch break.”
According to Time, the mind burns 320 calories per day just thinking! There are so many quick and easy snack options, both healthy and treats. If possible, pack a snack and nourish yourself throughout the day. Your body and mind deserve it!
4. Take a Break
There is a quote, “There will still be work to do when you’re dead.” It’s a little bit morbid, sure, but it puts things into perspective. We often worry about cranking out as much possible work as we can, running ourselves into the ground and draining motivation. However, at the end of the day, there can and likely will be more that we could have done.
It’s okay, in fact, it’s better for your mind if you take an occasional break. Stand up, stretch your body, step outside for a moment and breathe some fresh air. Open a window, send an encouraging email, close your eyes for a moment. Meditate, say a message of gratitude, google an inspiring quote. Eat your snack, think of what you look forward to. There are so many little ways to take breaks throughout the day.
According to Forbes, “Without taking adequate breaks from work, employee productivity, mental well-being and overall work performance begin to suffer. Overworked employees often deal with chronic stress that can easily lead to job burnout.”
Constant working can be idolized, especially in North America, but the truth is that small breaks actually create harder working employees and boost creativity and drive.
5. Allow Yourself to Feel Emotions
Finally, it’s okay to NOT feel positive. Life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. There can be stressors inside and outside of work, sometimes both simultaneously. Your feelings are valid and simply put, it’s okay to not be okay. Sometimes, we beat ourselves up for feeling down, unhappy or stressed. We try to identify what’s wrong with us, why we aren’t happy, even if there are things to be grateful for. The truth is that we are human beings, with complex emotions and burdens.
Beating ourselves up for not feeling like a Positive Patty every day only makes the situation worse. If you’re having a bad day, there’s no need to talk down to yourself, because that will only make it worse. Instead, talk to yourself like you would talk to a loved one or a child. Bad days are okay, even normal. The good news is that they aren’t permanent.
Shelly, an engineer says, “When I have a bad day, I tell myself, ‘Okay, it’s here. It’s not fun, but it certainly won’t get better if I force myself to ignore it or fake how I feel.’ I take a deep breath and do my best for the day.”
Ultimately, positive thinking is an effective way to lead a happier life. It is even shown that positive thinkers live longer. But don’t forget that being human means different emotions and feelings are sure to come. You might not always feel positive and happy, and that’s perfectly fine. The best you can do is remember why you’re doing what you do, give yourself something to look forward to, eat a snack when you’re hungry, give yourself proper breaks and go easy on yourself. You deserve it.