• Retrain and reprogram your brain’s default setting for more positivity
  • Find specific purpose, be grateful, enjoy simple pleasures and practice daily self-care
  • Develop a process that works best for you to trigger and maintain positivity and offset all the bad mojo
Every time the alarm goes off, you feel a sense of dread.

You're tense and stressed before you even get out of bed.

You can't remember the last time you felt positive or optimistic about the day ahead and you don't know how to snap out the funk.

Between work life and home life, you're stretched to the limit.

Keeping so many plates spinning is taking its toll, both physically and emotionally.

And just when you’ve got things somewhat under control, life punches you in the gut with another issue to deal with.

You feel like you can’t catch a fucking break.

It’s like there’s a rain cloud hanging over your head everywhere you go.

You need to do something soon.

Sparking a bit of positivity into your day doesn’t need to be a major effort and doesn’t require a bunch of hocus-pocus new age bullshit.

With small, incremental changes, your inner positivity can be your secret weapon in overcoming challenges in your life. You can’t stop the struggles from happening but you can change how you respond and deal with them.

And you can start creating positivity at the workplace too.

Just like that one asshole at work that can make everyone’s life a misery, the opposite is also true. With a positive attitude, you can be a beacon of joy in a shitty workplace.

And it all starts with your mindset and your decision to make a change. 

How Negativity Bias Makes Life Miserable

Most of us dwell heavily on the shitty parts of life. Every screw up, failure or insult is practically imprinted onto your brain.

We feel the impact of negative comments and situations far more than positive ones. Bad news stories weigh on your mind far longer than heart-warming ones.

Negative information informs our decisions more often too.

There’s a reason for this. Our brains are hard-wired to zoom in on negativity.

It’s called negativity bias.

It stems from the days when our caveman ancestors needed to be on high alert to survive. They looked at everything with suspicion that it could be life-threatening.

Better not go down that steep trail, one slip and you’re done.

Stay close to the cave because those mountain lions will eat you for dinner.

That plant looks a bit iffy, so better not eat that or you might get poisoned and die.

These days, you don’t need to be super alert to threats to stay alive but that same negativity bias is still hard-wired in your brain. This often leads to having an asshole in your head that’s constantly criticizing you.

Don’t bother applying for that position, you’ll never get it.

You’re never gonna get all of this work done.

You’re never gonna get ahead in life.

All of this negativity makes optimism nearly impossible and it has a major impact on mental health and wellbeing. It can take ten positive experiences to overwrite just one negative experience. You need a ton of positivity to offset the negative stuff.

Despite this, a positive attitude is very important for staying sane and healthy when life sucks.

When you’re constantly cultivating your own sources of happiness, the positive experiences will eventually win out.

How To Develop And Maintain A Positive Mindset At Work

Moving out of the downward spiral of negativity is essential when your life is constantly dragging you down.

Switching to a positive mindset gives you the tools to avoid being overwhelmed by what's happening. You're more resilient and less likely to be affected by the physical effects of constant stress.

Having a positive attitude doesn’t mean you won’t get stressed again but it can give you the ability to manage work stress much better. And, in some cases, you can even make stress work for you not against you.

1) Find Realistic And Relatable Purpose In Your Work

How many times have you heard or read the phrase, “Find your purpose”?

It’s been said millions of times. It’s so cliche.

And, frankly, a lot of times it feels like something that’s too big and/or too far away to ever achieve like some global humanitarian goal like ending world hunger.

The reality is that we’re all seeing it as some lofty endeavor when in actuality, it’s a lot closer and easier to obtain. When you develop a specific, realistic and relatable purpose, it’s within arm’s reach.

This 5-minute video from Big Think lays it out clearly.

VIDEO: How to find purpose
YOUTUBE: Big Think
LENGTH: 4:51
Summary points:
  • Everyone has different ways of developing purpose and meaning
  • The key is seeing positive impact from your efforts
  • Impacts could be at individual, organizational or societal levels
  • Identify the level that is most rewarding for you that will keep you going
If your job keeps on giving you lemons, everything can feel pointless.

Finding some meaning can turn this around.

It’s that feeling you get when your life has value for yourself and other people. It’s having a compelling reason to get your ass out of bed every day.

It’s a lot easier to feel more positive when you feel your efforts are being recognized and appreciated and you see the positive impacts.

This is definitely true at work.

No matter how shitty your job is, you can still find meaning in it and feel happier about being at work. Taking personal responsibility for how you perceive your work is the key here.

You don’t need the perfect job to make this happen. It’s all about adjusting your perspective and mindset to keep you excited. It will make your job more fulfilling and awesomer. And it’s something you can take with you to any work environment.

This study from the International Association of Applied Psychology makes it clear - seeking meaning in your life boosts your job satisfaction.

Think of it as your secret weapon for keeping positive at work, even when life throws yet another curveball.

Here are a few ways you can find a more specific purpose in your life. 

Work Out Your “Why” For Showing Up At Work

When you want to quit but need the money, your paycheck is the only big motivator that’s keeping you at work but that’s not always enough by itself.

You can often find more meaning by keeping your family front of mind to get through stressful or tedious work situations.

If that doesn’t work, dig deeper and keep searching.

Think about your values and what’s truly important to you in life. Then look for ways to tie it into every part of your work or at least some part of it.

If you’re actively demonstrating and seeing your values in your work, it brings relatable purpose and meaning into everything you do.

Help Your Coworkers & Feel Awesome 

This study published in The Journal of Positive Psychology linked helping others to a greater sense of purpose and meaning. And, it doesn’t need to be some big huge thing. The small things can make you feel just as good too.

You can help a fellow coworker with things like…

Cleaning up the formatting in the excel file.

Proofreading the report.

Finding cool clipart or photos for the Powerpoint deck.

Being a note-taker for the meeting.

When you do things for other people with no expectation of getting anything in return, you feel good about your actions. There’s a ton of science to back this up.

Random acts of kindness are proven to improve your wellbeing.

However you choose to help others, it’s a habit that is guaranteed to give you a positive boost. 

Achieve Your Goals Through Small Quick Wins

Knowing how you want life to be provides direction, motivation and positivity.

This study from George Mason University shows that achieving your goals is another way to gain more meaning in your life. You can feel you’re in control of where you’re heading every time you accomplish something.

How this translates to your office life is simple.

Break your project goals down into smaller bite-sized tasks that you can do within one hour. Every mini-task you complete is another step closer towards the finish line and bigger picture.

The secret to keeping this going is to celebrate small victories throughout the day. This will help to maintain your momentum.

2) Harness The Power of Gratitude

Right now, you might not feel like there’s anything to be positive about. You’re stuck on the negative things that happen and ignore all the good stuff.

But no matter how much life sucks, there’s always something to feel grateful for.

For example:

You are alive and reading this article.

You have a roof over your head and food to eat.

You’re not in a life-threatening situation.

Life could be worse.

When you sit down and seriously think about everything you can be grateful for, life won’t seem so shitty.

Gratitude promotes optimism, encourages positive emotions and helps to offset all that bad mojo that’s been festering inside you and following you everywhere you go.

When you break the cycle with gratitude, it’s far easier to see the bigger picture and not feel like life is always out to get you.

And when shit hits the fan, it won’t affect you as much.

You're focused on and happy about what you have, not hung up on challenges and setbacks.

Feeling grateful for what you have leaves little room for negativity and that's why it's such a powerful tool for honing a positive attitude. Plus, it’s also a simple little trick to triggering happiness at work without much effort on your part.

3) Hone Your Problem Solving Skills

When life sucks, your first instinct is probably to whine and bitch, right?

We all do it - WINE and bitch.

It might make you feel better for a little while but bitching and moaning about it for days, weeks or longer is not going to do you any favors. You’ll also annoy the shit out of all your coworkers and friends.

Swap complaining for problem-solving.

This instantly moves you from feeling like a victim to being empowered.

You’re in control of how you react to situations.

When you start seeing problems as an opportunity to hone your problem solving skills, you get a totally different perspective on all the crap life throws at you. 

4) Learn to Say “No” To All The Bullshit

It’s really hard to stay positive when you’re spinning so many plates. You know that all too well right now.

Setting boundaries and learning to say “no” to all the bullshit things that don’t serve you is critically important.

This can be a tough one if you’re usually a people pleaser. You feel guilty for letting others down.

You want to maintain a “can do” attitude, but sometimes, a “can’t do” attitude will actually serve you better.

And then there's that nagging feeling you're missing out on something or rejecting an opportunity that could boost your career.

But when you say “no” to something you don't want to do, you’re opening the door to saying “yes” to something better.

You’re saying “yes” to putting yourself first. And, saying "yes" to other new opportunities and possibilities that could genuinely benefit you is the better way to go.

But, for a lot of us saying “no” is hard to do without feeling guilty. So, here’s a little 4-minute clip that highlights a strategy to overcome this challenge.

VIDEO: How to say NO without feeling guilty
YOUTUBE: Sharon Stokes
LENGTH: 3:54
Summary points:
  • Saying no doesn't mean people won't like you (unless they're an asshole!)
  • Fears around rejection, looking weak and not being good enough keep you stuck saying yes
  • Those stories you tell yourself about how people will react to you are false
As you get better at saying “no” for the right reasons, you’ll start gaining more control over your workload and day. You’ll be able to do more with less stress.

And when you really get into the groove, that’s when you reach that magical point of getting in the zone at work. This is when you feel like a hero and you’re overflowing with positivity and happiness.

5) Don’t Compare Yourself To Your Coworkers

Every workplace has an office superstar who seems to have all their shit together and breezes effortlessly through life. It’s like as if everything is going their way.

When life sucks, it's hard not to make comparisons of their life to your own.

Comparing yourself to your coworkers is a fast track to jealousy, resentment and depression.

Plus, it’s a major drain on your energy levels.

Here's why it's unproductive.

It's not an apples-to-apples comparison.

You're zeroing in on their successes versus yours. And their strengths against your weaknesses. This doesn't give the full picture.

Often, you only see what people want you to see. Their life may suck balls too. You're just not aware of it.

Focus on your achievements instead. Run your own race and don’t pay attention to anyone else. If you compete with anyone, make it yourself.

Work on creating more joy and building more of the life you want. 

6) Embrace Simple Pleasures

Take in as many simple pleasures as you can every day so you’ve got plenty of positivity to counteract all the negative shit that comes your way.

It'll help you get through the rough days when you need it most.

Just don’t rely on something super unhealthy for your positivity boosts.

Eating donuts at work every day might get you through the week but those extra inches on your waistline won’t do much for your positivity or health. As a once a week treat, it's fine - just don't go overboard.

Ideally, your simple pleasures should be something that makes you feel good and improves your health and wellbeing.

Meeting up with your BFF for lunch.

Taking a walk in nature.

Petting your dog or cat.

Sipping on your fav coffee, tea or cofftea.

Savoring these moments counteracts your brain’s negativity bias. So, enjoy the little things in life throughout the day whenever you can.

7) Practice Self-Care Every Day

Pressing pause on life for some “me time” can feel like an impossible task when life is kicking your ass. But, no matter how hard it is, you need to.

Think of it this way.

How often do you let your phone battery crash to 0%?

Almost never, right?

Yet most of us think nothing of letting our own energy drain away.

Self-care is super important for keeping yourself energized, just like you do with your phone.

Doing something for yourself every day is a necessity, not a luxury.

You gotta put you first.

This doesn’t have to be lavish spa days or expensive getaways either. It’s slowly sipping on your fav coffee in the morning, going for a walk during lunch, losing yourself in your hobby at night, etc.

The key thing here is to slow down your crazy mind. Doing this is one of the most powerful self-care moves you can make, especially for silencing negative thoughts.

Giving yourself “rest and recharge” periods helps keep a positive attitude. And, one of the best ways to do this during the day is to meditate at work. You’ll be giving your brain a rest and letting it recharge for a bit - just like your phone.

If you haven’t meditated before or are new to it, then check out this newbie’s guide to meditation and you’ll get the hang of it quickly.

Also, know that self-care isn’t self-rewards - as much as we’d like to consider them as being the same. This is about taking care of yourself like you would for your kids, parents, etc.

Here’s a great 5-minute clip that lays it out in more detail along with an action plan for self-care.

VIDEO: A Self-Care Action Plan
YOUTUBE: How to Adult
LENGTH: 5:01
Summary points:
  • Self-care offsets burnout, stress and negativity
  • Find and develop the self-care activities that work best for you
  • Practice self-care throughout the day to keep yourself sane and healthy

When Life Sucks, Positivity Helps You Deal With It

When life is constantly beating you down, it’s super easy to fall into a downward spiral and get trapped.

It’s tough to feel optimistic when life sucks but it's in your hands.

Staying positive is absolutely key. You can’t rely solely on outside sources of happiness when life gets shitty. It also has to come from within you.

And this inner positivity will make you more resilient.

No matter what bullshit life throws at you, you’ll feel ready to deal with it and when it's feasible, you’ll be able to change the situation so that it works in your favor.

It’s time to kick negativity’s ass to the curb and start turning things around.

You got this.

Feel Better,

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