How to Actually Be Your Most Positive Self
Having a positive mindset takes practice, and sometimes leaders need to know the steps they can take to improve that practice. A leader's positive mindset impacts every aspect of business, which is why a being positive makes a difference in business.
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You hear it all the time: Want to be happier? Think more positively. Want to be productive? Channel a positive frame of mind.
Don't get me wrong — I'm a huge advocate for living positively. It's better for yourself and those around you. However, I also realize that it's not something that comes easily for everyone, and just being told to "be more positive" isn't helpful.
Positivity is a product of your overall outlook on life. A basic analogy is the gas tank; pending a good night's sleep, we wake up with a full gas tank of energy. What comes next is on you — is that gas full of positive energy? Or is it toxic?
Your positivity is largely dependent upon your own actions.
Action 1: World perception
How you view the world affects your positivity. If your review of the world is that it's a "dark and scary place," then your gas tank is sure to be full of negative energy. Similar story with people: "humanity is miserable" will pollute your energy in a heartbeat.
Physical, mental and emotional health also affect how we perceive the world. I recently took a trip to the Midwest, where I found myself eating on the run a lot. And while it's difficult to speak poorly of the magical culinary concoction that is deep dish pizza, several days' worth of poor diet choices left me feeling less-than-spectacular. It put me in a mood that I didn't benefit from.
Same goes for stress. The more stressed you become, the easier it is to attribute it to the world around you. "I'm stressed because of X, Y,and Z."
What we all need is an internal checks-and-balances system. Physical health: Good. Mental health: On the incline. Emotional health: Needs improvement. Then, we look for ways to improve. A day away from work to alleviate stress. A healthful meal and a workout to feel better. A conversation with a friend to improve mental wellbeing.
If your self-perception operates at a high level, so too will your perception of the world.
Action 2: World participation
How do you participate in the world? There's a remarkable book by author Mark Sanborn called The Fred Factor: How Passion in Your Work and Life Can Turn the Ordinary Into the Extraordinary. In it, Sanborn details the mindset of an everyday mailman named Fred who chooses to treat his job as something far from everyday. Since working is a large part of how you participate in the world, it's imperative that you either find reasons to like your job, or go do something else.
Also find time to get outside of your normal environment. This could be as simple as taking a break from work and walking the dog or as intricate as traveling somewhere new. Creating new experiences and memories for yourself is a fast ticket to living more positively.Try and find the message behind what you do. Why are you doing it? And on those less-than-favorable days that we all have (y'know, where it feels like everything is going wrong), can you fight to find the humor in it all? Even make bad a competition. What could possibly top this series of unfortunate events?
Action 3: Friends and family
Who you associate with is another action that affects positivity. Granted, we don't choose our family, but we can choose our friends. It's difficult, but you might find an instance where you need to release a friend to the wild because they're simply too negative.
As for family, if you find yourself sinking in negative energy, your best option is to try and combat it with some positive force. Be the beacon of positivity that helps others — all parties involved benefit.
Why people struggle to be positive
Knowing what affects our positivity and how to control it is half the battle. We're conditioned at an early age to use more of a negative gas tank than positive.
Our media consumption doesn't help. Just think about the news: How much time is spent on negative stories as opposed to positive? Add in the dark depths of social media, and we have a recipe for infinite negativity. We have to work harder to be positive.
Then there's toxic positivity, or what I also like to call "see-through" positivity. An example: telling a grieving person to "look on the bright side," or instructing someone struggling with depression that they just need to "think positive thoughts." Disingenuous and unconstructive. Positivity must be treated authentically in order to stick around.
Related: How to Avoid Toxic Positivity
Simple tricks for a more positive workplace
If you're a leader looking to reignite positivity in your workplace, here are a few simple actions to take. These are small gestures (and maybe you already do them), but small gestures go a long way.
At Hennessey Digital, we have a #gratitude Slack channel that we use to start each day on the right side of the gas tank. Each team member posts something they're grateful for. Another option is to create gratitude partners and hold each other accountable.
Good tunes are total mood changers. Traditional mix tapes might be a thing of the past, but now Spotify is a haven for self-created playlists. Make one for your team or company. Get everyone involved and share across channels.
Water cooler convos
Give your team some much needed time off and de-stress with a group water cooler conversation. There's only one rule here — talk about things other than work. Learn something new about coworkers, and share something new yourself. This is another easy way to keep spirits high.
Pass on the positive energy during all-employee meetings or team huddles. Keeping the leadership team positive creates a baseline and expectation for positivity. Share two positive statements for every negative one.
Whatever you do — focus daily on your own positivity first, so that you can serve as a positivity paragon for others. As you take active steps in being positive, you'll watch the world turn into a more positive place!