The benefits of a positive attitude – and five ways to get it

Think of the best person you’ve interacted with professionally. Did they exude a positive attitude? Here are five ways to tap those benefits.

Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor/File
Members of the Gateway to India Laughter Club in Mumbai demonstrate the lion laugh. Clubs like these meet all over India as a positive way to start the day. Here are five ways to embrace a positive attitude in your life.

There are quite a few things that you can do to improve your financial and personal state without spending even a single dime. One of the biggest is simply improving your attitude – the way you interpret the things around you and the way you relate to others.

Think about it for a moment. I want you to imagine the single most caustic person you’ve ever had to interact with for a long period of time (I certainly know who my person is). Did that person provide any sort of encouragement (outside of fear) to do any sort of constructive work? Did that person make you feel good and properly motivated to do exceptional work?

On the flip side of that coin, imagine the best person you’ve ever had to interact with in a professional way. Did you often go the extra mile when this person asked? Did you try harder in order to please this person? Did you simply enjoy your time in the workplace (or in everyday life) more because of this person?

What a world of difference the people around you make.

Of course, the same is true for you. To other people, you’re somewhere on that spectrum of positivity and negativity between the two people above. The more negative you are, the more others are going to react to you like you did to the negative person. The more positive you are, the more others are going to react to you like you did to the positive person.

To put it simply, the more positive you are, the greater the positive impact you have on your professional and personal life. Here are five areas where it comes through loud and clear.

Career success Positive people get promoted and get raises not just because of their own work, but because they bring out the best in others.

Stress reduction Negativity leads to stress because it convinces you that the events around you are bad. Meanwhile, looking for the positives in a situation convinces you that the events around you are better, which reduces stress. Lower stress has a strong effect on personal health and health care costs.

Teamwork improvement The more positive you are, the better your interactions will be with the people around you. Think simply of how you react in comparison to the people around you – the same general themes are true with regards to how people interact with you.

Customer relations improvement The same idea is true with your customers: the more positive you are with your customers, the better your relationship with them will be and the more business you’ll develop with them.

Motivational improvement This is perhaps the most unorthodox one, but it’s also true. If you look at your work with a positive attitude, it’s much easier to actually do the work than if you apply a negative attitude towards it, no matter what you’re doing.

That’s great, of course, but how exactly can you do that? Here are five specific tactics you can use in your day-to-day life to improve your attitude towards the people and things around you.

1. Come up with a positive response to every situation you meet. Yes, sometimes our first response is negative. I’m never happy when my daughter uses too much toilet paper and proceeds to flood the bathroom, for example. Simply stepping back for a moment and looking for a positive response to the situation, though, can make all the difference. The spilled water can be a close experience with my daughter, as I gather up some towels to mop up the water and allow her to help me as we sing songs while doing it, then I plunk her in the tub as I Lysol the floor, and then we have a fun bath time.

2. Look for the good in other people. Rather than seeking to identify the negative traits in the people around you that you interact with, look for the positive ones. Person A might not be the most skilled person, but he does put forth a lot of effort and ask a lot of good questions. Person B might have a caustic personality, but she does show tremendous efficiency in handling some incredibly complicated projects.

3. Act happy, even if it’s a painted dayglow smile. You don’t have to be happy – often, that’s an impossibly tall order. Instead, just act happy. The more you do it, the more natural it becomes. Even more interesting, the more you do it, the more it becomes a part of you – you actually do feel happier.

4. Drop the sarcasm. Sarcasm can be a lot of fun, but in the end, it’s just negativity wrapped up and packaged as a joke. Drop the sarcasm – you don’t need to ridicule things you don’t like. Just expend your energy elsewhere; don’t even think of the ridicule-worthy things at all.

5. Get plenty of rest and eat a good diet. This (along with exercise) is one sure way to naturally elevate your mood. It’ll increase your energy and focus, decrease your stress, and make it easier to interact with the world.

You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by adding a little more positivity to your life.

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